Yankees’ Gerrit Cole to begin stretch of rehab games Tuesday

New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, who has yet to pitch this season because of nerve inflammation in his right elbow, will make his first minor league rehab start Tuesday.

The reigning American League Cy Young Award winner could throw about 50 pitches for Double-A Somerset versus the visiting Hartford Yard Goats, Yankees manager Aaron Boone stated Sunday.

Boone said Cole, 33, is expected to need at least two outings before the right-hander would be cleared to make his season debut for New York.

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“I try not to get ahead of myself with it,” Boone said. “Let’s just keep checking boxes, keep moving the needle. Ever since he got shut down, I feel like it’s moved in a good direction the whole way. It’s just about continuing to move toward that point.”

Cole landed on the injured list in late March and has progressed enough to throw bullpen sessions versus live hitters.

In his most recent outing Thursday at the Yankees’ complex in Tampa, Florida, Cole threw 43 pitches over three innings against minor leaguers.

New York’s pitching staff has thrived without Cole, although right-hander Clarke Schmidt is out at least a month because of a right lat strain.

Cole has been one of the majors’ most durable pitchers, making at least 30 starts in every season since 2017, except for the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign. He went 15-4 while leading the AL in ERA (2.63) and innings pitched (209) last season. He struck out 222 and walked 48.

The six-time All-Star is in his fifth season with New York after previously pitching for the Pittsburgh Pirates (2013-2017) and the Houston Astros (2018-2019). He is in the fifth year of a nine-year, $324 million contract.

In 300 career major league starts, Cole has a 145-75 record with a 3.17 ERA, 2,152 strikeouts and 471 walks in 1,859 innings.

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