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Gerrit Cole Ready to Go For Opening Day, Gerrit Cole Ready to Go For Opening Day
 
LAKELAND, Fla.  Between innings, Gerrit Cole emerged fr om the third-base dugout at Publix Field, skipping into a jog as he ventured back to the visitor's clubhouse beyond the right-field wall.Cole broke a sweat on Friday afternoon, throwing 64 pitches while striking out five over 3.1 innings in a 6-2 victory over the Tigers.His second outing in Grapefruit League play was a procedural step in the right direction. Five days prior, Cole delivered 50 pitches in his first in-game appearance of the spring.What makes this year atypical, however, is that the next time Cole toes the rubber on a big-league mound, he'll be ascending the dugout steps on a brisk afternoon at Yankee Stadium, set to face the Red Sox on Opening Day.Cole will begin the regular season this month with the fewest amount of spring training innings  Nicolas Meloche Jersey under his belt in his career (5.1). Excluding his first spring with the Yankees in 2020when COVID-19 brought Grapefruit League play to a screeching haltthe only other time Cole has thrown le s than 10 spring innings was 2016. Even then, he was up to 6.2 frames.Asked on Friday if he's at all concerned about his need to continue building up when games actually countwhile doing so in a colder climate rather than humid afternoons in the Sunshine StateCole didn't hesitate."No," he said."It's really the same progre sion I've done for like 10 years," he  Lanny McDonald Jersey added.Cole's skipper didn't seem worried about the situation either."I think he's ready to go," Aaron Boone told reporters after watching Cole's latest start.On Friday, especially early on, Cole looked like an ace in midseason form. The right-hander was blowing fastballs by big-league hitters, striking out the likes of leadoff man Akil Baddoo and future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera.Cole's fastball touched 99.5 mph on Friday, averaging 97.2. He used all of his secondary pitches and filled up the zone, throwing 42 of his 64 pitches for strikes.Scroll to Continue"I thought he looked good," catcher Kyle Higashioka said. "Velo is there, stuff looks good, worked his way out of a jam that one inning which was good. Nathan MacKinnon Jersey  I mean you always like to see how a guy can work himself out of a jam early in spring, that's kind of a good gauge to see wh ere he's at."That jam came in the third. After allowing a triple off the bat of Detroit's No. 2 prospect Riley Greene, Cole walked the next two hitters he faced, laboring and loading the bases.He buckled down, striking out Baddoo for a second time before inducing a weak pop-up to shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa. He ended up permitting his only earned run of the day a few pitches later as second baseman Gleyber Torres couldn't hang on to a throw fr om third baseman DJ LeMahieu, allowing Javier Bez to reach on a fielder's choice."Quality pitches, got the pitch count wh ere we wanted, worked in a little traffic Paul Kariya Jersey , a little bit of high leverage. That's good," Cole said.In a perfect world, Cole makes another start or two before the regular season begins. With an abbreviated spring training this year, plenty of pitchers acro s the league are bracing for Opening Day on an expedited timeline, trying to build up as much as po sible before heading north.That in mind, it's safe to a sume Cole won't be pitching deep into the game when he opens the season in the Bronx next week. His pitch count for that contest remains a mystery, but odds are, it won't be too much higher than his 64-pitch outing on Friday.That's notable because Cole has averaged 97 pitches in his first outing of the year since his  Calvin Pickard Jersey first full season in 2014 (again, excluding the 2020 season). The only time he didn't reach the 93-pitch mark in his first start of the year was in 2017 (76 pitches).New York will have a stable of arms ready and waiting in the bullpen next Thursday, ready to bridge the gap between Cole and the final out. With two extra roster spots, the Yankees will be bringing as many as 16 pitchers on their Opening Day roster.Again, nobody is thrilled about Cole's workload to this point, but it's an immovable obstacle. The most important thing is that New York's ace is healthy and throwing the ball well. He'll just need to be efficient next Thursday if he wants to be in line for a victory in Game 1 of the regular season.MORE:
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