Nestor Cortes hit hard by Blue Jays as Yankees lefty makes spring debut: ‘Not a nasty start’

DUNEDIN, Fla. — The Blue Jays refused to take it easy on Nestor Cortes in his spring debut on Saturday.

The Yankees southpaw, sidelined up to this point by a hamstring injury, faced an Opening Day-esque Toronto lineup in his return to the mound. That combination resulted in Cortes allowing five earned runs, including homers to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Whit Merrifield, over 3.1 innings of work. Cortes also walked three and struck out four.

“Not a nasty start,” Cortes said after the game, a nod to his nickname. But considering the hamstring injury and the groin issue that led to a premature playoff exit last October, Cortes was happy with his command and thought his stuff was better than he expected in his first game action of 2023.

His manager agreed.

“I thought he was all right. I liked the life on his fastball,” Aaron Boone said. “Got some swing and miss with it. Made a couple mistakes probably cutter-, slider-wise.”

Boone would have preferred that Cortes not face a talented Jays order right out of the gate, but the skipper acknowledged a need to get the starter out there with spring training a few weeks from ending.

“It doesn’t matter,” Cortes added when asked about Toronto’s lineup. “At this point, with my first outing, as long as I get out of there healthy and feeling good about myself, [that’s] the most important thing for me.”

Cortes threw 52 total pitches, three shy of his target, so he tossed a few more in the bullpen after exiting. The plan is for him to make two more spring training starts. Cortes will aim for 60-65 pitches in his next outing and then 75-80 in his last exhibition start. His goal is to be in the 85-90 range when he makes his …read more

Source:: The Denver Post

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