Notes: Cole 'huge fan' of Ohtani; Gio's swing

April 5th, 2021

NEW YORK -- can’t envision a day when the Yankees would surrender their designated hitter to get his bat in the lineup, but the ace right-hander is intrigued and impressed by the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani, who touched 100 mph nine times and smacked a 451-foot homer on Sunday against the White Sox.

“I’m a huge fan of Shohei Ohtani; what a magnificent talent,” Cole said. “I certainly can throw the ball as hard as him, but I can’t hit it as far as he can. There are certainly people that can hit it as far as he can and can’t even throw it anywhere close to the way that he can throw it. I’ve just sat in the fan seat and rooted for it.”

Cole recalls being nudged by the Angels’ Mike Trout one afternoon, with the center fielder telling the then-Astro: “You’ve got to watch this guy’s [batting practice].”

“I snuck out for a couple, and it’s impressive -- impressive to all parts of the field,” Cole said. “Pitching against him certainly is a tough out. I only got to see him throw like one time, but he was firing 93-mph splits. That had me on the front of my seat as well.”

Ohtani is 3-for-11 with a double lifetime against Cole, who has said the pitcher/outfielder has been “given a gift.” The Yankees will see the Angels in the Bronx for a four-game series June 28-July 1, then they are scheduled to visit Anaheim from Aug. 30-Sept. 1.

Barrel cured
removed any doubts about his surgically repaired right elbow this spring, whipping throws across the practice infields at odd angles with ease. His confidence in his bat surged after a barreled ball this weekend.

Urshela smoked a 107-mph single in the Yanks’ 5-3 victory over the Blue Jays on Saturday, and the Bombers’ third baseman believes that was a preview of a season filled with similar line drives. Urshela had surgery in October to remove a bone spur from his throwing elbow, an ailment that sent him to the injured list in September.

“When I hit the ball on the barrel, I know I’m not too late,” Urshela said. “I feel like I’m more focused on keeping my barrel in front and drive the ball, whether the pitch is inside or outside. I feel pretty good.”

Urshela scuffled during Spring Training, collecting six hits in 40 at-bats (.150), and he opened the regular season with two hits in his first 11 at-bats. Urshela said that he is close to finding the rhythm that produced a .310/.358/.523 slash line over the 2019-20 seasons (133 OPS+).

“The timing, I need to keep working on that,” Urshela said. “I’m trying to keep the same routine and all that stuff from the last couple of years. That’s what I’m doing right now. I’m feeling better every day.”

Extra work
volunteered for early batting practice on the Yankee Stadium diamond Monday afternoon, working with hitting coaches Marcus Thames and P.J. Pilittere to reverse a 1-for-12 start through three games.

“He wanted to just get out there a little bit early today,” manager Aaron Boone said. “Everyone's trying to find that good feeling here as you get started. It was just a few extra swings for him on the field, and something he wanted to do.”