‘Up-and-down’ guy Nestor Cortes stunned by Yankees choosing him for Opening Day

Nestor Cortes of the New York Yankees

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On Friday, New York Yankees’ left-hander Nestor Cortes received a life-altering surprise when manager Aaron Boone named him the team’s Opening Day starter, leaving the resilient pitcher at a loss for words.

“I’ve always been the up-and-down guy in my career,” Nestor Cortes said. “This was far-fetched for me and I’m happy that Aaron Boone and the organization have the trust in me to go out there for the first game.”

Nestor Cortes’ journey to this crowning moment has been anything but conventional. Drafted in the lowly 36th round, he bounced between teams before finally finding a home and consistent success in the Yankees’ starting rotation.

Despite recognizing the challenges that lie ahead, Nestor Cortes exudes determination to maintain the team’s winning spirit and deliver top-quality performances on the mound. He understands the importance of consistency, especially after a shoulder injury limited his appearances in the previous season.

On Friday, PinstripesNation broke the news of the Yankees zeroing in on Nasty Nestor as their starting pitcher for the Opening Day.

Nestor Cortes finds himself thrust into the spotlight of Opening Day due to Gerrit Cole’s elbow injury, which is expected to keep the Yankees‘ ace out of action for 1-2 months, possibly longer. Although the situation is unfortunate for the team, Cortes expressed his gratitude for being healthy and given this crucial opportunity.

Nestor Cortes thrust into Opening Day spotlight

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Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

Although Gerrit Cole’s injury created the opportunity, being selected as the Opening Day starter is a tremendous honor for Nestor Cortes. He acknowledged the unexpected nature of the situation and expressed his deepest gratitude for the trust that the Yankees have placed in him.

Throughout his career, Nestor Cortes has endured both highs and lows. Now, he has the chance to shine on baseball’s grandest stage, making this opportunity all the more meaningful and special for the determined left-hander.

Nestor Cortes’ breakout season in 2022, which included an All-Star selection, is a testament to his talent and ability. However, he acknowledges the pressure to continually prove himself, both after past successes and setbacks. His immediate focus is on his Opening Day debut, which will be followed by a dedication to a strict rehabilitation program to ensure he is physically prepared for the demands of a five-day pitching rotation.

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After completing a productive four-inning live session on Friday, Nestor Cortes will take the mound again next Thursday, giving him a full seven days to prepare for his Opening Day matchup against the Houston Astros.

“Just blessed that I’m healthy now, happy to be able to be the Opening Day starter,” he said. “Not ideal for us with Gerrit Cole going down, but I’m going to try and pick up where he’s left off.”

Although the altered schedule isn’t the smoothest transition, as Nestor Cortes was previously on a six-day spring training program, the 29-year-old left-hander remains undaunted by the additional rest day, especially considering the shoulder injury he dealt with last season. He confidently assured everyone that he would be well-rested and ready to go for the season opener.

Reflecting on his journey, Nestor Cortes acknowledges the surreal nature of his current situation. Despite facing numerous challenges, including a significant injury setback in 2023, his dedication and perseverance never wavered. The Yankees star expressed his profound gratitude for overcoming those obstacles and reaching this pivotal moment in his career.

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