Yankees' Aaron Boone on Gerrit Cole's rehab start: 'Another good step along the way'

While the Yankees get ready to take on the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday night, the reaction to Gerrit Cole’s first rehab outing with Double-A Somerset on Tuesday is still dominating the airspace in New York.

Manager Aaron Boone was peppered with questions about his ace – how Cole fared, what Boone saw and when can the Yankees expect the right-hander back on the team?

The skipper, who has yet to talk to Cole since his first rehab start, said that while Tuesday’s outing was “another good step along the way,” he still doesn’t have a timeline on Cole’s return, adding that “the next few days will be important.”

“That’s something we’ll continue to work through,” Boone said about Cole’s next steps in the rehab process. “Obviously Gerrit will pour a lot into that, and we’ll just keep taking it day by day, but at least a couple more [starts]. We’ll see if it’s, I don’t know how many – is it two is it three – it’s gonna be what is best and we’ll come to that decision as we go.”

When asked if Cole will pitch Sunday which would be his next turn in the rotation, Boone still wasn’t sure, saying “I’d rather see him [first].”

Regardless of when the 33-year-old pitches again, Tuesday’s performance gave Boone and the organization confidence that he’s on the right track and will pitch in the Bronx again at some point this season.

Cole finished his night by going 3.1 innings, allowing two hits, no earned runs, no walks and striking out five on 45 pitches (34 strikes).

“I got to watch most of his first two innings before we went out for the game and I thought he looked really sharp,” Boone said. “Command looked good, stuff looked good, life to the heater.”

Boone also said he thought Cole did a great job of controlling and harnessing that shot of adrenaline that comes with pitching in a professional game for the first time in a while, something the right-hander does extremely well when healthy and “why [he is] who he is.”

When Cole does eventually return to the Yankees starting rotation, he’ll join a staff that has pitched to an AL-best 2.73 ERA this season. Adding the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner to the mix almost seems unfair.

Of course, a decision will have to be made about where on the schedule Cole can come back and assume his throne atop the rotation.

“It won’t be hard to slot him in so I’m not worried about it,” Boone said. “We’ll get there when we get there.”

Because of how good New York has pitched this season – and that goes for the bullpen, too, who has a 2.88 ERA entering Wednesday – the Yankees can be extra cautious with bringing Cole back into the fold if they want to.

But no matter where the Yanks are in the standings or what circumstances they’re in, that will not determine Cole’s timeline.

“This is about Gerrit and making sure he’s in the best place to be the best version of himself when he comes back. Obviously, we know the impact he can have so I don’t think where we are matters that much,” Boone said.