Cole to miss at least a month, visit surgeon in LA (report)

March 13th, 2024

TAMPA, Fla. -- Yankees ace is expected to miss at least a month of the regular season with a right elbow injury, though no tear in the hurler’s ulnar collateral ligament has been detected, according to a report on Tuesday by MLB Network insider Jon Heyman.

Cole traveled from the Bombers’ Spring Training camp to Los Angeles on Tuesday for an in-person visit with noted sports orthopedist Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said that Cole is scheduled to undergo more advanced testing in California, and that no timeline for the hurler’s return has been decided upon.

“We’re still in the gathering of information, and then everyone’s got to weigh in to determine exactly what we have,” Boone said. “Until everyone weighs in, out of respect to Gerrit, I’m not going to put a timeline on anything when there’s still information to gather and they’ve still got to put it together.”

A unanimous winner of last year's AL Cy Young Award, Cole underwent an MRI exam on Monday after relaying that he has had difficulty bouncing back between outings. He likened his level of fatigue to what he usually would feel after throwing 100 pitches during the regular season.

Cole had more testing performed on Tuesday, including X-rays and a CT scan, when Boone acknowledged that the team no longer expects him to start on Opening Day. That will snap a string of four consecutive Opening Day starts for Cole, who signed a nine-year, $324 million contract before the 2020 season.

The club said it could be several days before it announces a prognosis for Cole, given that it is seeking multiple opinions from doctors and team medical staff.

“Gerrit’s as smart as they come,” Boone said. “He’s just trying to process all of the information as it comes in, and obviously having necessary conversations with our trainers, our doctors, his people, his family. So I think he’s still in the information-gathering portion too, of, ‘What’s the final diagnosis here? What’s the course of action?’”

Since joining the Yankees, Cole has been remarkably healthy, dealing only with a left hamstring strain and a stint on the COVID-19 injured list in 2021. His last time on the injured list for a right elbow issue was in 2016, when Cole was with the Pirates.

“Gerrit has been the cornerstone of durability for a starting pitcher,” said Yankees left-hander Carlos Rodón.

Cole made only one Grapefruit League start this spring, on March 1 against the Blue Jays. He opted to pitch under simulated conditions on the afternoon of March 7 rather than face the Tigers in an evening contest, and tossed only 47 pitches that day.

With Cole unavailable, Marcus Stroman could start the Yankees’ season opener on March 28 against the Astros in Houston. Boone said on Tuesday that Rodón is lined up to pitch the season's second game.

“We’re leaning a certain way [for Opening Day], but I still want to let all the information come in and settle,” Boone said.

Boone added that there are “probably four or five candidates” in camp to fill the No. 5 starter’s job -- a group that likely includes Clayton Beeter, Luis Gil, Cody Poteet, Will Warren and Luke Weaver.

“In my head, I certainly have a favorite, I guess,” Boone said. “But you’re also trying to let things unfold. The reality is we have a long way to go. Two weeks is a long time.”