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Yankees ace Cole pleased with progress after two-inning simulated game

New York Yankees Gerrit Cole - The Canadian Press

TAMPA,Fla, (AP) — New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole is pleased with his comeback progression from a right elbow injury after throwing two, 15-pitch innings in a simulated game on Saturday.

Cole faced minor league hitters on Derek Jeter Field in front of his family and a large gathering of rookie-level players at the Yankees’ player development complex in Tampa, Florida.

“We hit all our goals,” Cole said. “We did exactly what we wanted to do today. Threw a lot of strikes, so pretty good.”

Cole threw to hitters for the first time since spring training before Tuesday night’s game with Seattle at Yankee Stadium. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner is looking to face hitters again in about five days.

“Get after the recovery and try to get back on the bump middle next week,” Cole said.

Cole made one spring training start, on March 1, and the Yankees announced 10 days later the 33-year-old right-hander’s elbow was ailing. He was diagnosed with nerve inflammation and edema and told to rest.

He didn’t throw off a mound again until May 5, the first of five bullpen sessions leading up to his initial session against hitters.

Cole likely would need four or five minor league starts before rejoining the Yankees, a timeline that makes a late June return possible. The right-hander said he didn't know yet when he would start a minor league assignment.

JT Brubaker threw a pair of simulated innings in his rehab program following Tommy John surgery in April 2023. The Yankees acquired the right-hander from Pittsburgh in March. Brubaker was the Pirates' opening day starter in 2022.