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Yankees ace Gerrit Cole will take the mound on Opening Day against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium, and the righty spoke to reporters via Zoom on Wednesday to discuss how he's feeling with less than 24 hours until first pitch.
"Yeah I had trouble sleeping last night so I probably anticipate the same thing tonight," Cole said. "We're definitely excited and looking forward to getting the season started as soon as possible.
"It's always a special day, I think because there's a lot of different emotions. Everyone is tired of spring training, ready for Opening Day. Most people's families are in town, which is special. There's a lot of hope, a lot of excitement, there's a lot of projections, there's a lot of baseball out in front of you. You prepared up to this point and you just want the gates to open and you want it to start. It's always an exciting day, it's an important day, but it's the first of many."
Cole started on Opening Day of the 2020 season in his Yankees' debut, allowing one hit and one earned run with five strikeouts over 5.0 IP. The three-time All-Star understands the honor of pitching on Opening Day and is ready to get to work.
"Very special opportunity, something I don't think I'll ever take for granted," Cole said. "In this organization every year, I feel like you get a fresh slate and you need to go perform and prove yourself in order to keep your job. Again, don't take it for granted, it's very special and looking to get off on a good foot."
Cole is very excited to play in front of his family at Yankee Stadium for the first time, mentioning that it'll be a great moment for his father to be in attendance and enjoy the day.
"Yeah he's going to be here tomorrow, it's going to be pretty special for him," Cole said. "Can't imagine the feeling. I can't imagine what he'll be feeling. It was nice to get him into the playoffs last year and see a postseason start in San Diego. But this is the mecca, this is Yankee Stadium, so he's gonna be pretty fired up.
"...my sister will be here, my mother-in-law is here popping in saying hi to her grandson, and my parents flew in, so we'll have a small little group, but it's a special group."
Despite the warm weather in Dunedin, Fla. -- the Blue Jays' home field this season -- Cole and the rest of the team are ready to head back up north and play a game that counts in the Bronx.
"I actually hadn't thought about that, certainly not bagging on Dunedin, but it's not Yankee Stadium," Cole said. "But the game counts now, so that's different. Getting six innings, getting six ups towards the end of spring training and then you show up the next and you're sore and you gotta remind yourself that all that work doesn't really count. It's different when it counts, it feels better and sometimes it unfortunately feels worse. Love pitching in Yankee Stadium, not knocking Dunedin, I would prefer to be playing here. As long as it counts, as long as it's a real major league game, I think that's all we're looking for."