Major League Baseball's ongoing postponement is poised to benefit the Yankees on the field in a big way.
If the league's latest proposal comes to fruition, rather than starting the season with several key contributors on the injured list, extra time before a potential Opening Day gives New York a better chance to recover from injuries before embarking on the 2020 campaign.
But what about off the field? How has the coronavirus-induced hiatus impacted the Bombers' relationships between teammates?
For two Yankees' right-handers – Adam Ottavino and new ace Gerrit Cole – the extra time off has strengthened their budding relationship as not only teammates, but friends.
"It's been great," Ottavino told Jensen Karp, host of 'The No-Sports Report' podcast. "I mean, it almost feels like a game day, bullpen day, you know, he comes rolling in and we challenge each other and we try to make each other a little better and work on our game together. And it's been nice to get to know him during this time."
Once a week, the two hurlers convene at Ottavino's home to throw a bullpen, aligning their throwing programs to coincide on that one day. Cole lives 15 minutes away in his new $5.6 million estate in suburban Connecticut, typically playing catch with skipper Aaron Boone who also lives close by. With a turf mound in Ottavino's backyard, however, the reliever's residence is the best place to toss a 'pen.
"When we got broken up from Spring Training, we talked and I told him I have a mound at my house so let's utilize that," Ottavino explained to Karp. "Whatever you're comfortable with, we'll figure it out as we go, but let's not be strangers."
Leading up to baseball's shutdown in mid-March, Ottavino and Cole had already established the beginnings of a close-knit relationship. The right-handed reliever referred to what's transpired up to this point as being in the "right place at the right time."
"I knew him a little bit and I knew him from some Players Association meetings and competing against him and we had some mutual friends," Ottavino recalled. "Then this year when he signed I was at the stadium during his press conference cause I was training that day at the stadium.
"Right before spring training, he moved in to Connecticut. So we trained together for about a week at the stadium before heading off the Tampa. So really it just kind of been in the right place at the right time to get to know the guy."
Yankees fans may recall this Instagram post from Ottavino's feed earlier this spring, showing the two pitchers throwing together amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beyond sharing equipment once a week, however, Ottavino expressed his gratitude to be able to "feed off" one of the best pitchers in the game.
"He's a really smart, so I mean ultimately we kind of vibe in that way cause we're both into the same stuff with baseball," Ottavino said. "It's nice to be able to feed off of each other. And it's made for a made for a good time. It's nice to see one of the best up close like that."
For more from Karp's podcast – The No-Sports Report – click here.
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