Nestor Cortes had a productive day on Saturday, checking off several items from his to-do list.
It was his first start of the spring, his first experience with the new pitch clock, and an official step towards being ready for the upcoming season.
Despite allowing a couple of home runs in a 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays, Cortes felt good and was satisfied with his stuff.
He will have to wait for his next start to aim for a statistically impressive outing in the Grapefruit League, which holds little significance.
Cortes missed the first month of camp rehabbing a hamstring strain, and his previous injury concerns seemed to be behind him on Saturday.
He pitched for 3 ¹/₃ innings, allowing three hits and five runs, striking out four batters, and touching 93.7 mph with his fastball.
Cortes was pleased with his arsenal, which he believed was “actually better than I thought.”
Although his pitching wasn’t perfect, the Blue Jays had a legitimate major league lineup, and Cortes will have two more spring starts to sharpen his stuff.
Despite missing a few Grapefruit League starts, Cortes is slightly ahead of where the Yankees expected him to be at this point of spring.
If there are no setbacks, he could slot into the fourth spot of the rotation.
Manager Aaron Boone initially believed Cortes would be the No. 5 and get an extra day, but the lefty’s progress has been impressive.
This year, all players are learning the rhythms and adjustments of the newly introduced pitch clock, but Cortes always has been a quick worker.
His different windups will be unaffected by the clock, and he did not feel rushed or out of gas after his first true experience with the timer.
Tommy Kahnle, who has been dealing with right biceps tendinitis, started a throwing program on March 10 but didn’t throw as scheduled on Saturday.
Boone did not believe Kahnle would require additional tests but acknowledged that it would slow his clock a little bit.
Carlos Rodon, who has a mild strain of the brachioradialis muscle in his left forearm, played catch on Friday for the first time since his injury and is expected to miss at least a few weeks.
Harrison Bader, who has a left oblique strain, is not swinging or doing any baseball activities but is “doing better than we anticipated,” according to Boone.
Bader is expected to miss at least the first couple of weeks of the season.
Jonathan Loaisiga, who left camp to pitch for Nicaragua in the World Baseball Classic, made his return to the Grapefruit League and threw a scoreless inning.