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Yankees' Nestor Cortes cleared 'a big step' Wednesday

TAMPA, Fla. -- After Nestor Cortes struck out Juan Soto three times in live batting practice on Tuesday, he made clear that the most important part of the day’s work was actually how he would feel on Wednesday.

Cortes, an important Yankees rotation piece who saw his 2023 season spoiled by shoulder/rotator cuff issues, was eager to see how he would bounce back physically the next morning from the adrenaline and exertion of throwing to big-time hitters on the main field, with fans in the seats. Manager Aaron Boone was, too.

“Feels good,” a smiling Cortes told SNY on Wednesday afternoon. “It’s a big step.”

Cortes, whose velocity is sitting at 90-92 mph -- right where he wants it -- looked sharp in Tuesday’s session, carving up Soto with well-located fastballs on the hands and offspeed stuff away.

So far, he has checked every box to return to the Yankees’ rotation at full strength, hoping to recapture his 2022 All-Star form.