The Yankees’ Gerrit Cole pitches during live batting practice at George...

The Yankees’ Gerrit Cole pitches during live batting practice at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

TAMPA, Fla. — Gerrit Cole, throwing his first live batting practice of the spring on the main diamond at Steinbrenner Field early Wednesday afternoon, was Gerrit Cole.

Meaning, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner was sharp, pleased with his “location” and with his repertoire overall in the 36-pitch session.

“Two non-competitive [pitches] out of 36, so that’s pretty good,” said Cole, throwing the equivalent of two innings to a group that included Anthony Rizzo, DJ LeMahieu (who singled hard to left in his first at-bat), Gleyber Torres and Anthony Volpe.

Said Aaron Boone: “The cutter was really good, threw a really good changeup, landed a breaking ball. The slider, which has been slow to get going for him, I thought was really good. Fastball, he was really in control of the number. He was mid-90s. Got it to places he wanted it to go. Pretty sharp out there.”

Which surprised no one.

For Cole, “obsessive compulsive” is not too strong a description when it comes to his preparation and attention to detail. When he takes the mound in any circumstance, even in spring training sessions such as Wednesday’s, he more often than not flashes stuff that appears in midseason form.

And so, with Cole getting through the outing healthy, the most important element of the afternoon may well have been the work of 24-year-old rookie catcher Austin Wells.

Wells, with Jose Trevino being at least a couple of weeks behind the rest of the position players as he recovers from a calf strain, has a chance to depart the spring as the club’s primary catcher.

Establishing a rapport with the Yankees’ ace, notoriously finicky when it comes to his catchers, would go a long way toward that end.

And the early reports could be summarized this way: so far so good.

“He’s obviously really intelligent,” Cole said.

Wells did not catch Cole in any games the final month of the 2023 season after his call-up Sept. 1 — Ben Rortvedt caught all of Cole’s starts after Trevino was lost for the season in late July to a right wrist injury — but the pitcher observed Wells closely.

“I thought that right away his game-calling was exceptional,” Cole said, mentioning Wells’ work in a three-game sweep of the Astros at Minute Maid Park Sept. 1-3.

Wells said coming into the spring building a “relationship” with the 33-year-old Cole was among his priorities.

“I think it’s been a good first two or three times that I’ve caught him,” said Wells, who previously caught Cole in the bullpen. “Looking forward to more.”

Wells, the Yankees’ first-round pick in the 2020 draft (taken 28th overall) and considered a defense-first receiver during his ensuing climb through the Yankees’ minor- league system, impressed more than a few members of the pitching staff last September with his abilities behind the plate, a group that obviously included Cole.

Wells did not catch Cole in 2023 but the rookie said he started the relationship-building process nonetheless.

“Just picking his brain, trying to be as attentive as possible when he’s pitching, and then into this spring, same thing,” Wells said. “Picking his brain and trying to understand why he’s throwing what pitches in certain counts and [getting] a feel for that.”

And though Wells certainly doesn’t lack belief in himself, hearing Cole’s comment about his game-calling clearly meant something.

“It’s great. It gives me confidence,” Wells said. “And the more that I catch him, the more confidence I have too. Just to be able to be the battery with him and be there to help guide him and him guide me as well. I look forward to continuing that relationship and continuing to build, hopefully, his trust.”

Trevino, who was Cole’s primary catcher last season before being lost for the season in July because of a torn ligament in his right wrist that required surgery, is expected to be ready for Opening Day. That means he’s still the betting favorite to be behind the plate March 28 in Houston. Still, Wells making the impression he has so far on Cole is not insignificant.

“I don’t anticipate it taking much work,” Cole said of clicking with Wells. “He’s well prepared.”

More Yankees headlines

Newsday LogoSUBSCRIBEUnlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months
ACT NOWSALE ENDS SOON | CANCEL ANYTIME