How a Steak Dinner — Organized By Gerrit Cole and Brett Gardner — Brought the Yankees Closer Together

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Across Major League Baseball, Gerrit Cole is best known for his abilities on the mound. 

His intensity, meticulousness and sheer skill while toeing the rubber bring his teammates together as he keeps opposing hitters at bay.

Instead of watching Cole sizzle fastballs past hitters this past weekend — and sniffing another tally in the win column — his Yankees' teammates were smelling steaks.

On New York's off day leading into the final two games of this weekend's series against the Washington Nationals, Cole and outfielder Brett Gardner organized a players-only dinner for some team bonding. 

"I think it's great," reliever Chad Green said Saturday morning. "I think it's just a time for guys to get to know each other more just to talk about baseball when we're not actually out there competing. So it's good to just talk baseball and get other guys opinion and just nice to sit and relax and have a nice dinner."

With the COVID-19 pandemic — along with baseball's extensive health and safety protocols in an effort to limit the chances of players being exposed to the virus — those in Washington D.C. for the weekend were relegated to the club's hotel. 

Typically, as veteran left-hander J.A. Happ explained on Sunday, players will take advantage of any and all opportunities to "go here and there" on a road trip, grabbing a meal or two and enjoying the local cuisine. 

"It's a little weird to not feel the freedom of being able to go out and about," the southpaw said. "But at the same time, we certainly understand why."

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Even back in the Bronx, less of an ability to head out after a long day at the ballpark means these ballplayers and their families need to fend for themselves in the kitchen.

"I love to try new restaurants," left-hander James Paxton said. "Not being able to go out to dinner, I'm challenging myself in the kitchen, trying to come up with different meals and keep on cooking so that's probably the biggest change for me, the amount of cooking I'm doing."

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Courtesy of the ace of the staff, the Bombers made the most of a night cooped up indoors. 

Zack Britton recalled he and his teammates settling in to the hotel's "banquet area" for the night, watching a full slate of MLB games. After all, it was Opening Day for the rest of the league after New York kicked off the season with a rain-shortened win on Thursday.

"If anything I feel like maybe we'll have a little bit more team bonding passing some of these off days," Britton said. "I'm not sure how it's going to look going forward, but the biggest thing that we're doing is to try to stay in the hotel and be safe and be healthy."

Needing to stay indoors at the team hotel extended into this week as well.

Both the Yankees' road games against the Phillies were postponed due to the Miami Marlins' COVID-19 outbreak. While the situation surely wasn't ideal — as New York was unable to depart from Philadelphia for a handful of days, even with no games — manager Aaron Boone called the experience "pretty comfortable" overall.

"There's gym access, I know a couple of our pitchers were able to get outside and actually play catch, we've had team meals and things like that," Boone explained. "We have some really good dedicated spaces in the hotel so guys are able to move around and get out of their room at least a little bit."

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As for the grub that Cole and Gardner served to the team, evidently Green and his teammates would give a five-star review.

"It was great," he said. "Can't complain about a good steak."

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