What To Expect in Gerrit Cole's Yankees Spring Training Debut on Monday
TAMPA, Fla. – The central theme of Spring Training for the Yankees thus far has been firsts for Gerrit Cole.
He threw his first bullpen session, worked up to his first live batting practice against his teammates and now, Cole is scheduled to make his first in-game appearance starting Monday night's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
After the Yankees fell to the Tampa Bay Rays in Port Charlotte on Sunday, skipper Aaron Boone confirmed that New York's new ace will start and throw one inning. The Bombers' starting backstop Gary Sánchez will also get the start, an integral step for the battery as they work toward Opening Day next month.
"All the firsts for him so far, there’s been a lot of buzz around it," Yankees' manager Aaron Boone said on the right-hander's imminent debut. "I know he’s excited to get going tomorrow and start to get going on that five day routine and I'm sure there’ll be a little buzz especially with a night game at Steinbrenner Field."
For the third exhibition game of the spring, Monday's game – at least for the first three outs – will be high intensity. Cole has proven since reporting earlier this month that every time he toes the rubber, he treats pitching the exact same way.
His meticulous mentality toward his craft will be on full display as he takes the mound in pinstripes for the first time against opposing hitters. Pitching coach Matt Blake explained that Cole has gradually increased his volume as Spring Training workouts have flown by – Monday will be a chance to scale back his pitch count and let Cole physically embrace the moment.
"We’ll pull the volume down a little bit knowing it’s going to be under the lights and his first game with us and a meaningful situation in Spring Training," Blake said, walking through the difference between volume and intensity this early in the campaign. "Obviously not the extent that we’ll have in the regular season but he’ll have a little more amplification in his intensity."
Specifically, Blake is hopeful that Cole can stay within himself despite the gravity of the start. It'll be a good test to get Cole mentally ready for his first appearance at Yankee Stadium down the road, but it's still important that the right-hander gets his work in.
"Try to make sure he gets out there, stays centered, focuses on the things we’ve been working on in his delivery and some of the pitch shapes and stuff like that," Blake said. "I'm not concerned at all about that for him."
Monday also marks the spring debut of Giancarlo Stanton and Brett Gardner – as well as Sánchez. The game is not televised, however, so stay tuned here at Inside The Pinstripes for in-game updates on Cole's performance and a breakdown including Cole's thoughts on how he did following the game's conclusion.
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