PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Joshua Cohen grimaced on the slope of the mound, watching with a critical eye as his changeup popped into catcher Jeff Glenn's mitt."What didn't you like about it?" Frank Viola asked.The pitch hung too far up in the zone, Cohen bemoaned.With the amount of movement
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Joshua Cohen grimaced on the slope of the mound, watching with a critical eye as his changeup popped into catcher Jeff Glenn's mitt.
"What didn't you like about it?" Frank Viola asked.
The pitch hung too far up in the zone, Cohen bemoaned.
With the amount of movement he put on the ball, Viola assured him, the location was more than fine.
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Cohen smiled, toeing the rubber to continue his bullpen session at the Mets' Spring Training complex. As Cohen worked in a Mets jersey with his name stitched across the back, Viola stood nearby, watching alongside several other Minor League pitching coaches. At one point, general manager Sandy Alderson stepped outside from the clubhouse to watch. Behind the mound, Yankees scout Ben McIntyre perched, taking notes on Cohen's performance.
Prior to the session Wednesday morning, McIntyre had approached Cohen, urging him not to be nervous. There were no big league jobs at stake, despite the VIPs on hand to watch. But for Cohen, it was nonetheless the opportunity of a lifetime, a chance to demonstrate how thoroughly he had won his fight with cancer.
In July 2016, doctors diagnosed Cohen with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that invaded his right cheekbone. Cohen underwent radiation and chemotherapy treatments, which eradicated the disease but sapped his body of strength. It was worth it. As he toed the pitching rubber on Wednesday, inside a roofed structure that guarded against the rain outside, Cohen was cancer-free for 10 months.
"I had to go through hell and back," said Cohen, now 17 years old and a junior at Indian Hills High School in Oakland, N.J. "But I made it."
Once Cohen finished his cancer treatment, he and his parents discussed how to celebrate, how to make the most of his second chance at life. A pitcher at Indian Hills, Cohen's dream was to perform in front of Major League scouts. Through the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Major League Baseball, that dream became a reality Wednesday at First Data Field, where a sizeable group gathered to watch Cohen pitch. MLB coordinated the event concurrently with the Mets, who provided the venue and the coaching staff, and the Yankees, who flew in an evaluator.
"It was my pleasure to see Josh," said McIntyre, the Yankees' assistant director of amateur scouting, who planned a scouting trip to Florida around the opportunity to watch Cohen pitch. "It's a great story. It's inspirational to see a kid so young go through so much already."
Following his bullpen session, Cohen headed to the main stadium, where he met Jay Bruce, David Wright and Tim Tebow, receiving an autographed bat from the latter two Mets. A lifelong Yankees fan, Cohen then met manager Aaron Boone as he watched his favorite team take batting practice.
Soon, Cohen will head back to New Jersey, armed with notes on how to improve as a pitcher -- advice that, Cohen said, will translate as much to his life as to his changeup or curveball.
"It's amazing knowing some of the best pitchers to play or players to play are giving me information and advice," Cohen said. "It's really cool. I loved it."
Added Viola, a former Cy Young Award winner and longtime supporter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation: "That puts everything in perspective, to see his face light up to be able to do something he loves to do. And he was pretty impressive doing it, too."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.