Yankees' Gerrit Cole dominates in 3 1/3 scoreless innings in first rehab start

Cole did not allow a run and struck out five batters on Tuesday

Gerrit Cole made his return to the mound in a rehab start Tuesday at Double-A Somerset and looked like his old self.

Cole threw 3 1/3 innings against the Hartford Yard Goats, allowing zero runs, no walks and two hits and striking out five.

The New York Yankees ace threw 45 pitches, which was right in line with the 40-50 Somerset manager Raul Dominguez planned to hold Cole to heading into the game. Of those 45 pitches, 34 went for strikes, and his fastball sat between 94 and 96 mph, according to My Central Jersey's Mike Ashmore.

"It felt really great to get back out there, get back in the flow of things, get some adrenaline," Cole said afterward.

Cole, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, hasn't pitched for the Yankees this season after being shut down during spring training due to right elbow inflammation.

Neither Cole nor manager Aaron Boone would say how many minor-league rehab starts would be needed before Cole will receive the green light to return to the Bronx.

"Definitely closer rather than farther away. It should be right around the corner here," said Cole, who added that he will let his body determine when he's ready to return.

The absence of their ace hasn't slowed the Yankees this season. Following Tuesday's 5-1 win over the Minnesota Twins, they have a 43-19 record, tied for best in all of MLB. Luis Gil, Marcus Stroman and Carlos Rodón have led the way in the rotation. Gil has been a pleasant surprise with an 8-1 record, 1.82 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 85 strikeouts.

Should Cole get a second start in Somerset, he would be lined up to take the ball Sunday, when the Patriots finish a six-game home stand against the Yard Goats.