TAMPA – Corey Kluber could have been a three-time All-Star and a two-time Cy Young Award winner, but he acknowledges that he is now just part of a group of contenders for a spot in the new 2021 Yankees rotation.
“I understand why he looks like ‘Gerrit and the rest,'” Kluber said, referring to the question marks surrounding a Yankees rotation in which the only pitcher without a care is Gerrit Cole, the $ 324 million ace. team dollars. “I get it. There are some guys without much experience. There are some guys that are coming back from injury. As a group, we can’t pay attention to that. We just have to do our best to prepare and be in a position that hopefully it will release a lot and remove those question marks at the end of the year. “
Kluber’s use of the phrase “Gerrit and the rest” stems from uncertainties in the Yankees’ pitching staff before the 2021 season. After losing pitchers Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton and JA Happ in free agency, The Yankees will have to rely on multiple arms recovering from injury, including Kluber and new signing Jameson Taillon (UCL surgery).
Despite a 98-58 record and a 3.16 ERA in 10 major league seasons, Kluber has been plagued with injuries in consecutive years. He suffered a broken forearm in 2019 after being hit by a comebacker. And a shoulder tear limited Kluber to a single inning in 2020, his first year with the Texas Rangers after being acquired through an offseason trade.
Kluber took to the media after releasing its first official pinstripe bullpen this spring, stating that it is on track for the 2021 campaign.
“I feel really good right now. There are no problems with that now or anywhere else in the rehab process,” Kluber said of his right shoulder, where he suffered a grade 2 tear of the teres major muscle that did not require surgical repair. “Honestly, the way I’d describe it now is that I feel like I’m in a normal place for spring training. I don’t feel like I’m still working on improving my shoulder or anything like that.”
Kluber, one of many players who went through a doubtful offseason before reaching a one-year, $ 11 million deal with the Yankees, praised the club, calling it “the yardstick for any professional sports organization.”
He also expressed his admiration and respect for Cole, who on Thursday called himself a fan of Kluber’s and described him as “a true craftsman.”
“Gerrit’s success speaks for itself. He is one of the best pitchers in the game,” Kluber said. “I think overwhelm is probably the first word that comes to mind. Just the way he’s able to smother the lineups, almost three or four times. Obviously, he has standouts. But things only go so far. You can. See, when you watch him and pay attention, how well he understands pitching and how he can use those extremely impressive things that he has to do and just dominate the lineups. “
Addressing whether the start-and-stop nature of the 2020 season shortened by the pandemic contributed to his shoulder injury, Kluber admitted that he still doesn’t know what caused it.
“I wish I had an answer,” he said. “I spent a bit of time probably trying to find an answer, but I don’t think I ever will. I don’t think we can point out a thing about why it happened when it happened, anything like that. I try to focus on the things that I can control. For myself , that was to rehab the best I could, and now I’m trying to prepare for a season. “