Can anyone do it like Nestor? Yankees give it a try

April 4th, 2023

NEW YORK -- “Nasty Nestor” starts are still an event, and not just on the Yankee Stadium concourses. Look no further than the access tunnel between the players’ parking lot and the clubhouse, where Nestor Cortes’ teammates spent part of Monday afternoon toying with the affable left-hander’s iconic pitching delivery.

Hours before Cortes donned special mustache-clad cleats to spin five innings of one-run ball, picking up the win in an 8-1 victory over the Phillies, arriving players attempted to replicate the funky windup that has confounded big league hitters over the past several seasons.

“It was great,” Cortes said. “When I turned the corner and saw them [recording], I was like, ‘Oh, gosh,’ but it turned out to be good.”

The clear winner was , who committed to the bit so strongly that we refuse to believe he hasn’t practiced it in a mirror at home. Cole nailed it, beginning with Cortes’ pre-windup fiddling in the glove, then producing not one, not two, but three leg swings before the delivery.

and also delivered nicely, and Cortes mentioned (though we must deduct points because he tossed right-handed).

“He’s such an important part of our team, not only with what he does on the mound, but in the locker room as well,” manager Aaron Boone said of Cortes. “He’s a great story for a lot of people out there.”

Added first baseman : “It’s always fun playing behind him. The crowd loves him. He brings good energy on the mound and in the dugout.”

Strangely enough, the final impression in the video clip looked almost nothing like “Nasty Nestor” -- and it came from the real Cortes, who crow-hopped three times before grinning widely as he pretended to toss a ball.

He saved his best stuff for the game, scattering seven hits but limiting the Phils to Edmundo Sosa’s run-scoring hit in an 80-pitch effort.

“They were making me throw the ball over the plate,” Cortes said. “They were definitely putting the bat on the ball.”

After spending his spring playing catch-up, a week or so behind the rest of the Yanks’ starters because of a strained hamstring that forced his exit from the World Baseball Classic, Cortes displayed his athleticism. He sprinted to first base in the fourth inning, receiving a throw from Rizzo to retire Darick Hall.

“It was good to see him get over there and cover [first base],” Rizzo said. “He told me to get everything I could, but I knew he’d be there.”

Cortes’ play of the night came in the fifth inning, on the final pitch he threw. J.T. Realmuto laced a single to right field, where it was scooped by right fielder . With Brandon Marsh skidding to a halt after being held at third base, Cordero threw home, air-mailing his toss above catcher .

“I was trying to be aggressive there and make sure I hit the cutoff man, but the ball slipped out,” Cordero said through an interpreter.

Fortunately for Cordero, Cortes was positioned perfectly behind home plate. Cortes snapped a throw to third baseman , who slapped a tag on Marsh for the final out of the inning.

“Right spot at the right time,” Cortes said. “It’s something that gets covered in the Minor Leagues a ton. Here, we touch on it every now and then. And in Spring Training, that’s what it’s all about. We work on backing up bases, and it showed today.”