Nestor Cortes shows his nasty midseason form against St. Louis

Nestor cortes is at the Yankees 2023 spring training games.

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Nestor Cortes, the Yankees’ most popular starting pitcher, didn’t have a “nasty” experience in his first spring training outing. However, in his second spring start, he looked like he was in midseason shape while pitching from the mound.

In Thursday’s 1-1 tie with the Cardinals at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium, the left-hander pitched four scoreless innings, taking another step away from the hamstring strain that kept Nestor Cortes out of the World Baseball Classic.

Nestor Cortes had seven strikeouts against a St. Louis lineup full of regulars. He only gave up two hits and didn’t walk anyone. The Yankees starter threw 66 pitches, which was the number he had planned to throw for the day.

Nestor Cortes got a lot of weak contact by moving quickly and using some of his signature trickery while keeping the strike zone full. His pitches were far better than his first game, where he gave up three hits, five runs, three walks, and four strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings.

“It’s always good to see him look that sharp,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone told. “A good day’s work of building that volume. And the reality is watching it, it was crisp, it was sharp. He was throwing the ball where and how he wanted to.”

Paul Goldschmidt, the first baseman for the Cardinals and the winner of the National League’s Most Valuable Player Award last year, was out twice by swings from Nestor Cortes. The two base hits he let through weren’t particularly hard. In the first inning, center fielder Tyler O’Neill hit a single to right, and in the fourth, catcher Willson Contreras got on base when a line drive hit the glove of diving shortstop Anthony Volpe.

Nestor could also feel how his hamstring was doing in the second. Lars Nootbaar, who plays left field for the Cardinals, hit a ground ball to first baseman Anthony Rizzo when there were two outs in the inning. Nestor Cortes ran quickly toward the bag for a moment. After a few steps, he stepped back and smiled as Rizzo changed gears and ran to the bag for the out.

Nestor Cortes at 2023 Yankees spring training camp on Feb 18.

Last year, one of the best parts of Nestor Cortes’s All-Star season was when, on April 23, he dived headfirst to beat Guardians outfielder Steven Kwan to first base. Boone said that it was a play that helped “the legend of Nestor” grow.

Nestor Cortes laughed when asked if he was ready to make a similar play on Thursday.

“Today, I wouldn’t have done that,” he said. “I’m sure I’ll be able to do it by the first week of April.”

That’s when Nestor Cortes is likely to play his first game of the regular season. If the southpaw sticks to his five-day plan, he’ll pitch for the Yankees against the Nationals in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday in their last spring training game. Then, he will start his first game of the year next Sunday at Yankee Stadium against the Giants.

Rodon firms up as Nestor Cortes flies high

Carlos Rodon pitched for the first time since March 9, when he was diagnosed with a mild left forearm strain. The Yankees’ biggest offseason signing besides Aaron Judge was a reliever who threw 15 pitches at Steinbrenner Field. He only threw fastballs and didn’t go all out.

“It was good,’’ said Rodon, who will start the regular season on the IL. “Just keep chugging along … week by week, day by day. It’s the truth, but that’s how rehab goes. It [stinks].”

Carlos Rodon and Nestor Cortes, who are among Yankees players with injuries, are watching others training at spring camp in Tampa, Fl.

Rodon said that if he feels good on Friday, he wants to play catch from 90 feet and then plan the next week, which will include another bullpen, but this time with breaking balls. He only played one game in the Grapefruit League before he was shut down on March 5. He started throwing up again six days ago.

Cabrera dazzles, Stanton gets right field

In the fourth inning, Oswaldo Cabrera hit his third preseason home run. It was a solo shot from the right side of the plate and the first home run the switch-hitter hit this spring from the right side.. So far this spring, only Cabrera, Jasson Dominguez, slugger Andres Chaparro, and third baseman Josh Donaldson have hit more than three home runs for the Yankees.

Adam Hunger

Giancarlo Stanton made his first start of the spring in right field for the fourth game of the spring, and it appears that he will be starting there again on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium. When asked if that was the plan, Boone said, “We’ll see.” He had just said that he would be fine with playing Stanton in the outfield from the start of the regular season.

If Stanton played right field, Aaron Judge would move to center field. This would make up for the fact that Harrison Bader started the season on the IL with a strained oblique. The DH spot would then be open for Gleyber Torres or DJ LeMahieu.

Ron Marinaccio came in as a relief pitcher and threw two innings with no runs scored. In five spring games, he has a 1.42 ERA and has struck out 12 batters in 6 1/3 innings.

On Friday, the Yankees will play their last split-squad game with Gerrit Cole starting against the Twins and Yoendrys Gomez against Baltimore.

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