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Cole to make at least 2 more minor league starts, on track for possible Yankees’ return in June

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NEW YORK (AP) — Gerrit Cole is likely to make at least two more minor league rehabilitation starts, putting the AL Young Award winner on track for a possible return to the New York Yankees’ rotation in mid-to-late June.

Cole said he felt fine a day after his first rehab outing, a 45-pitch effort over 3 1/3 scoreless innings for Double-A Somerset on Tuesday night.

“At least a couple more,” manager Aaron Boone said Wednesday. “I don’t know how many. Is that two? Is it three?”

Cole and Boone weren’t ready to commit to Cole’s next outing. If Cole remained on normal four days’ rest, he could start Sunday and again on May 14, making the earliest possible return the home series against Baltimore from May 18-20.

“We’ll take it start by start, just like we have the whole time,” Cole said. “It was a good day yesterday, so very encouraged.”

A 33-year-old right-hander, Cole had not pitched in a game since his only spring training start on March 1. He was diagnosed with nerve inflammation and edema and told to rest.

A usual progression to is increase pitch count by 10-15 per outing. A third minor league start would mean a higher initial pitch limit for Cole in his big league return.

“I think you got to take into account the performance, really, and use all the information you have at that point to make that decision,” he said.

Cole said modern analytic tools assess how 45 pitches at Double-A compare with the same amount in the big leagues, where adrenaline is likely to be higher.

“Now relative to when I was much younger, we just have a lot better ways to evaluate those 45 pitches, regardless of the competition,” he said. “That’s a blessing about the game today that we didn’t have a long time ago.”

Boone watched the first two innings before the Yankees’ played Minnesota.

“Looked really sharp. Command looked good. Stuff looked good. Life to the heater,” Boone said.

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

By RONALD BLUM
AP Baseball Writer

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