Gerrit Cole showers praise on Ben Rortvedt for keeping ‘damage low’

Yankees starter Gerrit Cole and catcher Ben Rortvedt
John Allen
Sunday July 23, 2023

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Yankees ace Gerrit Cole has expressed his admiration of Ben Rortvedt, who he pitched to for the first time on Saturday, for helping him out of a jam in the fifth and keeping the damage to the lowest. The two established a rapport and the catcher called the game in a way that benefitted the Yankees ace.

Gerrit Cole started the game by putting down the first six Royals hitters, but in the third inning, he surrendered a home run to Nick Pratto, breaking his streak. In the fifth inning, Kansas City managed to put runners on first and third with no outs, but the Yankees ace minimized the impact by allowing only one run at Yankee Stadium.

Gerrit Cole remarked that Trevino had prepared Rortvedt the previous day, and he commended Trevino’s commitment to finding ways to contribute as a valuable teammate

Gerrit Cole pitched to Ben Rortvedt for the first time

Ben Rortvedt got a recall to the MLB roster on Friday following an injury to Jose Trevino. He faced a significant challenge in his comeback to the Yankees lineup on Saturday as he was assigned the responsibility of catching ace Gerrit Cole.

The new catcher didn’t have ample time to work with Gerrit Cole, discussing their game plan for Saturday’s matchup and getting acquainted with each other. However, they delved into the starter’s preferred pitch usage to ensure they were well-prepared for the game ahead.

Before Saturday’s 5-2 victory against the Royals, manager Aaron Boone also acknowledged the challenge for Gerrit Cole to establish a rhythm with Ben Rortvedt, having been accustomed to pitching with Trevino throughout the season. However, Boone was pleased with Ben Rortvedt’s performance after the Yankees secured a 5-2 victory against the Royals.

Throughout the past two seasons, Gerrit Cole collaborated with Trevino in 41 games, resulting in an impressive 2.57 ERA. For the majority of this year, 18 out of his first 20 starts were paired with Trevino behind the plate. Unfortunately, Trevino’s season came to an end due to right wrist surgery, and he had built a strong connection with Gerrit Cole on the field.

Despite the change in battery mates, Gerrit Cole’s performance remained dominant, allowing only two earned runs and striking out 10 batters over 6 1/3 strong innings on Saturday afternoon. With one out in the seventh inning, Cole was taken out of the game, concluding a streak of nine consecutive starts where he had given up three earned runs or less.

Gerrit Cole stated that his approach was to continue making his pitches. He acknowledged that there were instances where they fell behind in the count while trying to execute pitches on the edge and anticipate a swing. At other times, he relied on the strategy of living on the edge and trusting that by consistently making his pitches, the batter would eventually have to make a move to gain an advantage.

Gerrit Cole in action during a Yankees' 5-2 win over Royals, on July 22
New York Yankees

The Yankees’ ace has all praise for the new catcher

Despite having a new batterymate, Gerrit Cole maintained his season-long dominance and showcased an impressive performance. He recorded ten strikeouts and only gave up five hits and two earned runs in a solid 6 ¹/₃ innings of play.

Gerrit Cole expressed his admiration of Ben Rortvedt after the Yankees secured a 5-2 victory against the Royals at the Stadium, clinching their first series victory since the end of June. He mentioned that they made a lot of good pitches and effectively navigated a jam in the fifth inning to keep the damage to a minimum.

Gerrit Cole shared his positive experience working with Rortvedt, describing it as enjoyable. He mentioned that they executed numerous good pitches and managed to escape a difficult situation in the fifth inning, limiting the damage and maintaining efficiency throughout the game, allowing him to pitch until the seventh inning.

However, Trevino played an invaluable role in supporting and guiding Ben Rortvedt during his preparation. Before the game on Friday, Trevino prepared Rortvedt, who was called up from Triple-A after being acquired from the Twins after the 2021 season, for the start. During Saturday’s game, Trevino continued to assist Cole and Rortvedt throughout.

Gerrit Cole mentioned that he had previously worked with Ben Rortvedt during the spring, and he praised Ben Rortvedt as a high-aptitude and skilled player. Cole also acknowledged that Jose Trevino, who is out for the season due to right wrist surgery, played a role in preparing Rortvedt for his start on Friday and continued to assist both Cole and Rortvedt during Saturday’s game.

Boone expressed satisfaction with the battery of Cole and Rortvedt, stating that there were a few minor issues with the pitch clock timing during the game. He noted instances where Cole was initiating his motion while Rortvedt was finalizing the signs, but overall, Boone felt that their collaboration went smoothly.

Ben Rortvedt mentioned that he found the discussions with Trevino and Higashioka to be highly beneficial. He stated that they engaged in thorough pre-game preparations and had meaningful conversations with Trevino both the day before and on the day of the game. Trevino’s continuous support during the entire game, including being present in the dugout to go over various aspects, proved to be immensely helpful for Rortvedt.

According to Gerrit Cole, both Rortvedt and Trevino displayed exceptional attention to detail, not missing any pitches. He acknowledged that Rortvedt was aware that he would be starting, and Trevino’s experience as a catcher helped in prepping Rortvedt for the game. Both catchers contributed significantly to easing Rortvedt into the challenging situation.

Ben Rortvedt acknowledged Gerrit Cole’s status as the team’s ace and emphasized his commitment to supporting him in any way possible. He made it clear that he is there to fulfill the Yankees ace’s needs and wishes during their time together on the field.

The Yankees catcher expressed his feelings about injuries, acknowledging that they can have a significant impact on the team. He sympathized with Trevino’s situation but recognized the importance of quickly establishing a strong rapport with the pitching staff. Ben Rortvedt’s main focus is to learn about each pitcher on the team and fulfill his responsibilities in supporting and communicating effectively with them, ultimately contributing to the team’s success.

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