Well, for Nestor Cortes, it's a start
DUNEDIN, Fla. — Nestor Cortes finally pitched in a spring training game Saturday afternoon and felt good afterward.
And that is the only element of importance to take from an outing in which he allowed five runs, three hits and three walks in 3 1/3 innings of a 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays.
“Commanded my pitches pretty well, I thought,” said Cortes, who in mid-February pulled out of the World Baseball Classic, where he was to pitch for Team USA, with a hamstring strain. “Some would call it a [bad)] start, but after going out with the groin [in Game 4 of the ALCS against Houston] and not able to pitch in a real game until today after dealing with the hamstring all spring, I thought it went pretty well.”
Although he hadn't appeared in a game until Saturday, Cortes had been pitching in simulated games, his most recent one coming last Monday, when he threw 47 pitches. He threw 52 pitches Saturday and believes he’ll be able to be built up in the range of 85 to 90 pitches by the time he takes the mound in the regular season.
Aaron Boone said before the game that Cortes will get two more starts in spring training before getting slotted into the fourth or fifth spot in the rotation.
“My main focus was get through today, and I did, so that’s a plus for me,” Cortes said of where he fits into the rotation after being brought along more slowly than the other starters in camp. “I think my next one is five days from now, and then we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”
Tommy Kahnle, who will start the season on the injured list with biceps tendinitis, suffered a setback when he was unable to throw Friday after playing catch Thursday. "[It] slows his clock a little bit until he can throw and bounce back and keep building,” Boone said . . . Lefthander Carlos Rodon (forearm strain), also slated to start the season on the IL, started his throwing program Friday. “Said he felt good this morning,” Boone said.