Gerrit Cole threw his first live batting practice of the spring on Monday and had Gary Sanchez behind the plate.
One of the stories of the spring, and beyond, will be who the Yankees team with his ace after Cole was far more successful pitching Kyle Higashioka than Sanchez.
Perhaps complicating matters is the arrival of Robinson Chirinos, who is in camp on a minor league contract. He caught 16 of Cole’s starts in Houston in 2019 and Cole mentioned his relationship with Chirinos last week.
“In 2019 we were able to be on the same page,” Chirinos said. “Gerrit is a tough guy to catch. Likes to talk. It was a challenge. “
In those 16 starts two years ago, Cole had a 2.46 ERA. He also worked with Martín Maldonado and in those 10 starts, he had a 1.57 ERA.
Cole, in his first season with the Yankees, struggled at times with Sanchez in the game. In eight starts, Cole had a 3.91 ERA, leading to a trade at the end of the year when Higashioka took over as Cole’s personal receiver. In those seven starts, including the postseason, Cole finished with a 1.79 ERA.
And while the Yankees appear to be ready with Sánchez and Higashioka, Chirinos said he is not planning on starting the season in the minors.
“That is not what I have in mind at the moment,” Chirinos said. “I know those guys are really good and have been here a long time. I came this spring to show that I’m healthy [the Yankees] choose and make a decision. “
Chirinos is also encouraging Sánchez to recover.
“He’s working hard,” Chirinos said. “That is the only thing you ask as a teammate. Hopefully he turns around and leaves the bad years in the past. It is a great key for this team ”.