Yankees ace Gerrit Cole in his minor league rehab assignment...

Yankees ace Gerrit Cole in his minor league rehab assignment with the Somerset Patriots, the team's Double-A affiliate, taking on the Hartford Yard Goats in Bridgewater, NJ, Tuesday, June 4, 2024 Credit: Ed Murray

All eyes will be on Gerrit Cole Wednesday night when he makes his 2024 debut against the Orioles.

As is usually the case.

But the Yankees will be keeping an extra close watch on the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner as Cole, who started the season on the injured list with right elbow inflammation, will be continuing at the big-league level the pitch-count buildup accomplished during three rehab starts in the minor leagues.

“There’s going to be watchful eyes on him because you want Gerrit Cole for the entire season,” bench coach Brad Ausmus said before Tuesday night's game. “This is a great first step because we need him back in the rotation. It’s good to have him here.”

Ausmus, pinch hitting for Aaron Boone on Tuesday as the Yankees manager was attending the high school graduation of his son, Brandon, smiled before referencing Cole’s in-game contributions to players, pitchers especially.

“We’re going to miss his coaching abilities in the dugout, I guess one day a week,” Ausmus said.

Cole struck out 10 over 4 1/3 innings Friday night in Rochester with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the third start of his rehab, throwing 70 pitches.

The righthander, who flew to Boston on Saturday afternoon to join the Yankees there, sounded, when he spoke to reporters at Fenway Park before that night’s game, like a pitcher ready to return. Though the decision to finish off his rehab in the majors wasn’t solely Cole’s decision, the pitcher would not have been activated without him saying resolutely that was his desire.

“I’ve just got to get the pitch count up,” Cole said Saturday, using the phrase “really strong” to describe how he felt toward the end of Friday’s outing. “I mean, the team’s playing well. It’s not a situation where you come in and, like, disrupt the distribution of innings with your bullpen when everything’s flowing so well. And making sure that you’re laying some rubber on the road a little bit so if you do get into a spot [in-game jam], you have enough to get out of it.’’

He, and the Yankees, clearly feel Cole has enough.

Hamilton, Poteet to IL

It wasn’t just Anthony Rizzo going to the IL Tuesday. The Yankees announced righty Ian Hamilton, who has a 4.55 ERA in 27 games, was placed there with a right lat strain. The Yankees said Hamilton will not throw for 3-4 weeks. In addition, righty Cody Poteet, who has filled in well for the injured Clarke Schmidt in the rotation, hit the IL with a right triceps strain. Righty Clayton Andrews was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and lefty Anthony Misiewicz was signed to a major league contract and selected to the active roster as corresponding moves. Poteet, who made one spot start in April and then three overall in Schmidt’s absence, is 3-0 with a 2.14 ERA overall.

Extra bases

Righty Nick Burdi, on the IL for the second time this season with right hip inflammation, said he hopes to throw a bullpen at some toward the end of this week…Righthander Scott Effross, on the IL since camp broke recovering from lower back surgery, is scheduled to start a rehab assignment Wednesday with Single-A Tampa.

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