Gerrit Cole started on the mound for the Yankees on Monday, and though he threw just one inning, he showcased exactly why the Yankees are confident he'll be their ace for years to come.
Cole opened up his outing getting Adam Frazier pop out to shortstop, then struck out Bryan Reynolds for the second out of the inning. He walked Cole Tucker, but recovered to strike out Josh Bell to end the inning.
All told, Cole threw 20 pitches (12 strikes), and according to those in Tampa, hit 98 mph on the stadium radar gun.
"It was exciting," Cole said after his outing. "I had fun. We executed a lot of good pitches."
The "we" Cole mentions is he and Gary Sanchez, who worked together in a game for the first time on Monday. Though every good pitcher-catcher relationship takes time to build, Cole is confident the two will mesh together without any issues.
"I definitely feel comfortable with him, enough to go out there and attack," Cole said. "I think we're there to go ahead and execute pitches at this point. Now, we want to in a better spot in September and October than we are now, and that's just going to come with experience. There's a will to get better on his side and there's a will to get better on my side. So we'll try not to think about it too much and let it come about organically."
Spring Training is all about preparation and Cole knows that the execution of his pitches is much more important than anything else, especially this early into camp.
"You're out there pitching.," Cole said of his first start of the spring. "I'm not out there just going through the motions in a sense. That's why I like pitching in spring training games as opposed to stuff on the back field. But, location isn't going to be midseason form at this point.
So, the objective is to hit the tolerance that you want to hit -- 20 good pitches is good -- and make sure the action on the pitches is where you want. I think we really threw a few poor misfires but the rest were pretty competitive. So we had a high level of execution."
Cole is expected to take the mound for the Yankees again on Saturday when they take on the Tigers.