Nestor Cortes reveals why he came to Tampa two months ahead of Yankees spring schedule

Nestor Cortes is training at the Yankees facility in Tampa.

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Yankees starter Nestor Cortes began his training in the team facility at Tampa way back in December. It was his concern over a shoulder hump that led him to hit training two months ahead of the official schedule.

Following a throwing hiatus in November, Nestor Cortes gradually resumed bullpen sessions in late October after his season was cut short by a second rotator cuff strain in August. By December 3, 2023, he was back throwing in his Miami hometown. However, after 10-15 days, a familiar feeling of stagnation set in regarding his shoulder recovery progress.

Nestor Cortes revealed on Friday that he chose to join the Tampa training staff of the Yankees to address those issues with his shoulder, aiming to overcome the challenges he faced. He expressed satisfaction with the outcome of this decision, indicating that the experience proved to be beneficial for him.

“I felt like I wasn’t getting any progress after about 10 or 15 days [in Miami],” he said. “These guys know my arm here; they know how it moves, how it works. … I trusted the process, worked my tail off with the shoulder, trying to get as strong as possible. I’ve felt good ever since.”

Nestor Cortes’ unique solution


The lefty pitcher embarked on a determined journey to conquer his persistent shoulder issues, racking up airline miles in the process. While Nestor Cortes might not be entirely free of the rotator cuff strains that plagued his 2023 season, he expresses optimism about his condition thanks to a revamped offseason rehabilitation plan.

Undeterred by the initial plateau, Nestor Cortes adopted a unique solution: a weekly commute from Miami to the Yankees’ player development complex in Tampa. Leaving each Sunday or Monday, he dedicated weekdays to intensive rehabilitation and training, returning home on weekends.

This setup offered two advantages. Firstly, the Yankees’ training staff, intimately familiar with Nestor Cortes’ arm mechanics and injury history, could design a meticulously customized rehabilitation program to optimize his recovery and strength development. Secondly, the commute itself served as a form of controlled rest, ensuring he didn’t overexert himself during the recovery process.

Nestor Cortes’ daily routine began with crucial morning shoulder stretches, followed by weightlifting sessions designed to push him toward his physical limits and maximize shoulder strength gains. This dedication and collaboration created a sense of optimism for smoother spring training and a stronger throwing arm.

Pitching coach Matt Blake commented that Nestor Cortes seemed to have been initially apprehensive about addressing his shoulder issues but in a positive manner. He suggested that such experiences often serve as a wake-up call, leading individuals to take necessary action. Blake emphasized the importance of having access to resources and support when dealing with such concerns, highlighting Cortes’s decision to seek assistance in Tampa as a wise one.

Nestor Cortes upbeat about upcoming Yankees season

Nestor Cortes and the Yankees are cautiously optimistic after seeing positive results from his revamped rehab program. Last season, his struggles with post-start recovery led to a disappointing 4.97 ERA over 63 ¹/₃ innings. However, his early spring training performance, including two innings of live batting practice on Wednesday, indicates positive steps forward in his recovery.

While it’s still early, the absence of setbacks in his workload progression is a significant improvement compared to last year’s challenges. This bodes well for Nestor Cortes and the Yankees, offering hope for a more consistent and dominant pitching performance in the upcoming season.

Yankees pitchers Carlos Rodon and Nestor Cortes.

Blake expressed confidence in Nestor Cortes’ progress, noting the importance of gradually increasing his workload, especially during the early stages of the season. He emphasized the need for the lefty to continue managing his workload effectively while focusing on maintaining his physical condition between outings.

Despite battling nagging shoulder issues throughout the offseason, surgery never entered Nestor Cortes’ mind. However, as the season ended with his condition stagnant, he confessed to moments of apprehension.

Seeking second, third, and even fourth opinions, Nestor Cortes met consistent reassurance from specialists: surgery wasn’t necessary. Instead, a carefully structured rehabilitation program presented a clear path forward, even if it demanded patience and dedication to overcome the hurdles.

Blake suggested that at times, individuals may limit their efforts due to uncertainty or caution. However, he noted that Nestor Cortes’ decision to seek assistance and receive comprehensive treatment in Tampa helped him gain confidence and make positive strides in his recovery.

While the New York Yankees plan to sprinkle in extra rest days between starts for Nestor Cortes during spring training, they’re confident he’ll reach a full workload of around 90 pitches by the end of camp. Careful monitoring of his recovery remains crucial as he ramps up, but the pitcher is optimistic that his offseason dedication will translate into a healthy and productive season.


Nestor Cortes expressed that observing his teammates preparing at the Yankees’ complex further incentivized his decision to join them. He emphasized his determination to ensure he fulfilled all necessary requirements, indicating that any potential injury wouldn’t stem from a lack of effort on his part.

The lefty’s health isn’t just crucial for himself, it’s vital for the Yankees’ pitching staff. With uncertainties swirling around the rotation beyond Gerrit Cole, Cortes’ return to form takes on added significance.

Nestor Cortes exudes confidence, aiming to recapture his 2022 magic. That season saw him blossom into an All-Star, sporting a sparkling 2.44 ERA over a career-high 158 ¹/₃ innings. Replicating that performance would solidify him as a cornerstone of the rotation, easing concerns about the team’s overall pitching picture.

The Yankees starter conveyed his belief that once he achieves full health and feels everything is optimal, he has the potential to perform at a level comparable to anyone else.

“As long as I’m healthy, I think I’ll be fine,” he said. “Once I’m healthy, once I feel everything is right, I can be as good as anybody. That’s kind of my mentality.”

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