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Yankees' Cole pitches 4 2/3 innings in second minor league rehab start

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NEW YORK (AP) — Gerrit Cole pitched 4 2/3 innings of one-run ball on Sunday in his second start for Double-A Somerset, another step toward returning to the New York Yankees’ rotation.

The 33-year-old Cole allowed two hits, struck out four and walked one against Hartford, retiring his last eight batters. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner threw 44 of 57 pitches for strikes at Bridgewater Township, New Jersey.

“I thought the pitch count landed in a great spot,” Cole said. “Fastball was not very good early, missing in bad places. That definitely progressed to where we executed the last seven or eight of them in a row. Curveball was really sharp. Changeup was really great. Cutter was really great. Slider was — to my eyes it looked OK, but it was coming off the bat hot, didn't seem like it was fooling anybody. Overall, checked a lot of the boxes.”

Ryan Ritter, Cole's second batter, drove an inside fastball on Cole's sixth pitch over the left-field wall for his fifth homer of the season and second in three days.

“I saw his last inning. I saw how he finished. Looked really good,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.

Cole threw 45 pitches over 3 1/3 scoreless innings for the Patriots on Tuesday night in the right-hander’s first game action since his only spring training start on March 1. He was diagnosed then with nerve inflammation and edema and told to rest, and then began throwing bullpens on May 4.

Cole is to make at least one more minor league start; on normal four days' rest he would pitch Friday. His earliest possible return to the Yankees would be the home series against Baltimore from June 18-20.

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A previous version of this story was corrected to fix the dates of New York’s next home series against Baltimore.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb