Gerrit Cole’s stardom eclipsed by his humility, teammates, coach marvel

Yankees' rotation stars Carlos Rodon, Nestor Cortes, and Gerrit Cole are with Aaron Judge at George M. Steinbrenner Field, Tampa, Fl, during the 2024 spring training.

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Even though Yankees ace Gerrit Cole is hurt and can’t play, he’s still helping his pitching teammates in a big way. He won the 2023 AL Cy Young Award for being the best pitcher. But he’s been on the injured list since the start of this season with an elbow nerve problem. He can’t return until at least May 28th.

But that hasn’t stopped Gerrit Cole from contributing. Despite his injury, he’s been acting like an extra pitching coach for the Yankees’ staff. The ace has a history of mentoring younger pitchers and giving them advice over the years. Pitchers like Nestor Cortes, Carlos Rodon, Marcus Stroman, and Clarke Schmidt have all benefited from Gerrit Cole’s guidance.

The impact showed on Monday when Cortes pitched a gem, allowing just two hits over eight scoreless innings in a 7-0 win over the Marlins. And behind the scenes, Gerrit Cole was ready to assist any pitcher who needed his wisdom and expertise.

While he can’t take the mound himself, the humble Gerrit Cole is making sure he elevates his teammates’ games in whatever way he can. His leadership is rubbing off, even as he recovers from injury.

Cortes mentioned that despite earning a significant income, the ace remains actively involved with the team, demonstrating commitment by being present and engaged. Cortes expressed admiration for this dedication, noting that instead of solely focusing on personal gain, Gerrit Cole prioritizes improving the careers of others.

“He’s making a ton of money and he’s still there, on the front lines with the guys,” Cortes said. “He could easily just cash it in and not care about other people’s careers. But something I respect about him is that he does make it his problem to make you better.”

For pitcher Nestor Cortes, Gerrit Cole’s mentorship goes way back. In 2022, right in the middle of Cortes’ huge breakout season as an All-Star, Cole was an invaluable guide. The veteran ace took lots of time to help the up-and-coming Cortes.

Gerrit Cole would sit down with Cortes after his starts and analyze every detail with him. He’d even pull Cortes aside during games to offer real-time advice and tips. Whether it was in the clubhouse or on late-night flights after road trips, Gerrit Cole was always there with words of encouragement for his teammate.

Nestor Cortes and Gerrit Cole are at the Yankees training facility in Tampa, FL.
Charles Wenzelberg /NYP

Cortes was so grateful for Gerrit Cole’s steady mentorship that he paid his elder the ultimate compliment. Despite being an established star himself now, Cortes still looks up to Cole and follows his lead, on and off the field. Their bond shows the value an experienced veteran can have in nurturing younger talent.

He expressed his respect for Gerrit Cole, noting that despite his significant earnings, Gerrit Cole maintains a humble demeanor. Gerrit Cole responded with a simple thank you with a humble expression on his face.

Gerrit Cole as a lifeline support to pitching teammates

Cortes explained that Gerrit Cole holds a unique perspective on the game compared to pitching coaches due to their extensive experience. He noted that the Yankees ace focuses more on providing insights during the game rather than extensive pre-game planning. Cortes suggested that Gerrit Cole may observe certain aspects during a player’s first or second at-bat and then strategize on how to improve the approach or better face the player in subsequent encounters.

 “He has a different view of the game from the pitching coaches because he’s done it for so long,” Cortes said. “He’s more about in-game insights than game planning. Maybe he’ll see something during a first at-bat or a second at-bat — what can you do to make it better now or to face the guy better a third time around?”

When newcomer Marcus Stroman threw his first bullpen session at Yankees camp, veteran Gerrit Cole was watching intently. Soon after, Stroman received a thoughtful surprise – a long text message from Cole with a detailed assessment of his pitching performance.

Gerrit Cole’s mentorship doesn’t stop there. Pitching prospect Clarke Schmidt says he picks Cole’s brain nearly every day as he aims to fulfill his first-round potential. According to Schmidt, the Yankees ace has coached him on everything from maintaining composure on the mound to reading batters’ swings and adjusting his approach.

Aside from literally tying his shoes, Schmidt credits Gerrit Cole for guiding him through virtually every aspect of pitching. His willingness to share wisdom and provide honest feedback exemplifies the veteran leadership so valued in the Yankees clubhouse. His impact is leaving an indelible mark on the club’s pitching staff.

“I feel like I’ve learned more in the past year than I ever have in my career,” Schmidt admitted when talking about Gerrit Cole.

Gerrit Cole’s dedication to mentorship goes beyond the ballpark. He’ll often re-watch that day’s starter’s outing at home, then send them a text that night or have notes ready the next day. During games, Gerrit Cole vividly tracks every pitch from the dugout, discussing strategy with fellow pitchers and predicting what might come next.

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instagram-gerritcole45

For newcomer Marcus Stroman, Gerrit Cole’s emphasis on controlled breathing between pitches struck a chord. Stroman is a firm believer in breathwork’s benefits, so hearing the ace preach similar philosophies provided reassurance. Through detailed analysis and sharing wisdom cultivated over years, Gerrit Cole’s leadership shines both on and off the field.

“When you’re talking with him, it gives you more confidence,” Stroman said. “It’s almost like, I knew I felt like that, and I knew I was doing that, but when he gives you confirmation, you feel really ready to rock.”

Last week against Arizona, Carlos Rodon worked out of a jam, stranding a runner on third in a scoreless first inning. As Rodón returned to the dugout after escaping trouble, Gerrit Cole approached with a plastic coffee stirrer, using it to demonstrate adjustments to one of Rodon’s breaking pitches. Cole looked like a conductor, and Rodón listened intently, nodding in agreement.

Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake marvels at what he calls Gerrit Cole’s “care factor” – his devotion to helping teammates improve. Whether breaking down mechanics with props or offering words of wisdom, Gerrit Cole’s leadership profoundly impacts the staff.

Blake said, “He understands the value of what good clubhouses look like and how important it is to bring guys along.”

Cole’s dedication wins admiration

Yankees ace Gerrit Cole watches solar eclipse at Yankee Stadium on April 8, 2024.
@pcaldera

On Opening Day, Nestor Cortes had a rough start against Houston, allowing four runs in the first two innings. But the Yankees rallied for a 5-4 win, and after Cortes exited, injured ace Gerrit Cole pulled him aside in the dugout. The ace, dubbed the “Yankees’ extra pitching coach” by broadcaster Michael Kay, discreetly covered his mouth at times to avoid being lip-read as he discussed Cortes’ outing.

Gerrit Cole is sidelined until at least May 28th while recovering from an elbow nerve injury. But the 33-year-old Cy Young winner has still found ways to mentor teammates despite not pitching. His impact is felt by pitchers like Carlos Rodón, Marcus Stroman, and Clarke Schmidt.

Though missing significant time for the first time in his 11-year career, the potential Hall of Famer isn’t sitting idly. Whether breaking down mechanics or offering encouragement, Gerrit Cole’s leadership resonates deeply with the staff.

Cortes’ dugout chat was just the start. All season long, Gerrit Cole has guided the Yankees not from the rubber, but from wherever his voice can be heard. His selfless commitment to elevating those around him exemplifies why he’s so revered in the clubhouse.

Gerrit Cole mentioned that he finds joy in sharing the knowledge he’s acquired and supporting his teammates to succeed. He also emphasized the importance of focusing and contributing positively during each game, aiming to make a difference within the limited timeframe.

“I enjoy sharing the blessing,” Gerrit Cole said, “sharing the wealth of information that I’ve been given and I like to see my teammates succeed. “Every time we have a game, we have 2 1/2 hours that we have to lock in and hopefully we’re doing something to contribute to that.”

“That’s who he is,” manager Aaron Boone said.

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