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Yankees ace Gerrit Cole making first start since bout with COVID Monday vs. Angels

Gerrit Cole Yankees
Yankees ace Gerrit Cole
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees are getting their ace back as manager Aaron Boone announced on Sunday that Gerrit Cole will take the mound on Monday night against the Los Angeles Angels in the Bronx.

Cole hasn’t pitched since July 29 after testing positive for COVID-19 in which he experienced “the full gamut” of “mild symptoms.”

“I’m feeling good. Ready to go. Very much looking forward to it,” Cole said on Sunday before the Yankees’ series finale against the White Sox. “I played catch on Saturday and then I threw on Sunday so I’ve been throwing for a while.”

“I threw a no-hitter in the bullpen, I’m ready to go,” he joked.

The 30-year-old had been dealing with some persistent struggles on the hill before testing positive for the virus, posting a 4.68 ERA in his previous 10 starts, including seven runs allowed on July 29 — his most recent outing — against the Tampa Bay Rays.

There will be questions about his stamina after his bout with COVID, but Cole is expecting top-notch stuff and a shortened leash on Monday.

“No, I don’t think [it will impact my stamina],” he said. “I don’t think we’ll push the limits by any means because the recovery will be important. But I’m ready to pitch.”

Cole is one of 11 Yankees who contracted COVID this season — an alarming number for a team that was able to ease its restrictions by eclipsing the 85% vaccination mark. The outbreaks and his positive test continue to mystify the four-time All-Star.

“If I had an idea of what behavior I did or how I got it, I would certainly advocate for an adjustment, but I have no idea where I got it. I have no idea how to avoid that,” Cole said. “Outside of just going to dinner with my wife and being able to spend time with my family — which neither of those caused COVID and they probably have a healthier lifestyle [now] than last year — it’s not like we’re going to grimy bars till 4 AM in the morning. There’s awareness there. I think we just maybe keep our fingers crossed, get a few booster shots from the immune-compromised people and hopefully, we’ve overcome the most of it.”

Regardless of the onslaught of positive tests and injuries, the Yankees are rolling. Entering Sunday’s action, they were 6.5 out of first in the American League East and just 2.5 behind the Boston Red Sox for the final AL Wild Card spot.

“I think we’ve done a really great job,” Cole said, ruing the Yankees walk-off loss at the Field of Dreams Game in Iowa against the White Sox on Thursday. “We’re playing good baseball but we still feel like we can play just a little bit better. Just find a way to win that game in Iowa, find a way to just get that extra series sweep. Those games go a long way in terms of the standings in terms of really extending the roll of excellent play.

“We’re putting ourselves in good positions to do that and now we’re just looking for the final piece to push it over the edge and get white-hot here. We’ve had a good next-man-up mentality and playing a good brand of baseball.”

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