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Gerrit Cole update: Yankees ace inching toward return after 3rd bullpen session

Yankees Gerrit Cole injury
Gerrit Cole
AP Photo/John Minchillo

New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole threw 29 pitches during his third bullpen session since injuring his elbow in spring training on Saturday, the Yankees revealed.

In an important next step of his rehab, the 33-year-old right-hander began instituting breaking pitches — 13 curveballs — back into his repertoire. His fastball reached 89 mph as he also continues to ramp up his velocity. 

“Fastball profiles were good,” Cole told reporters after his work down in St. Petersburg, FL (h/t AP). “Location was good. Velocity was where we wanted. A lot of strikes.”

Cole has not appeared in a game this season after being shut down in mid-March due to nerve inflammation and edema in his pitching elbow. It is unclear how many more bullpens he will need before he can begin facing live batters but there is hope that he can simulate two ups (innings) within the next week or two.

His next bullpen will be on Tuesday where he will remain in Tampa even with the Yankees finishing up their series against the Rays.

The right-hander is not sure how many more mound sessions he will have before facing hitters, but he said the plan is to simulate two innings in the next couple of outings. At the current trajectory, a return in June is still the expectation.

Upon his initial shutdown during spring training, Cole’s absence was believed to be an almost insurmountable blow to the Yankees’ starting rotation. Entering the fifth year of his nine-year, $324 million contract, he was coming off one of his finest seasons as a pro, winning the 2023 AL Cy Young by going 15-4 with a 2.63 ERA and 222 strikeouts.

Yet without their ace, the Yankees’ rotation has continued to keep things afloat more than admirably. New York starters had a 3.44 ERA this season entering Sunday’s series finale in Tampa, which ranks seventh-best in Major League Baseball.

For more on Gerrit Cole and the Yankees, visit AMNY.com