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Yankees ace Gerrit Cole won’t throw for 3 to 4 weeks due to elbow nerve irritation and edema

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole won’t throw for three to four weeks because of nerve irritation and edema in his throwing elbow.

“I think we’ve determined that we just got a little too hot a little too quick,” Cole said before Saturday’s game against Toronto. “I just got to a certain point where we just didn’t hit baseline and recovery. That’s important at this time of the year.”

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said if the team needed a 40-man roster spot that Cole would be placed on the 60-day injured list, which means the earliest the AL Cy Young award winner could be back is late May. The right-hander will need a spring training-like period after he resumes throwing before rejoining the team.

“I feel really comfortable based on all the feedback and the experts that were involved in deciding to go (with) rest,” Cashman said. “Best-case scenario we wouldn’t be dealing with anything, right? But second-best case, right?

The Yankees disclosed Monday that Cole was experiencing issues bouncing back following spring training starts.

The 33-year-old traveled to Los Angeles to be examined by Dodgers team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache, an elbow expert.

“It’s not a common experience for me,” Cole said. “I haven’t really dealt with anything like this before. So anytime you’re going through something for the first time, there’s a little bit of uncertainty, but I had a lot of faith. I felt good leaving the doctor, yeah.”

Cole returned to Tampa on Friday.

Nestor Cortes will start the March 28 opener at Houston in place of Cole.

Cole is entering the fifth season of a $324 million, nine-year contract that pays $36 million annually. He has the right to opt out after the season and become a free agent, but if he opts out the Yankees can void the opt-out by adding a guaranteed $36 million salary for 2029.

Center fielder Aaron Judge did defensive drills on Saturday, including making a leaping catch at the wall, and took part in base-running drills during on-field work.

The 2022 AL MVP hasn’t played in a spring training game since last Sunday and had an MRI of his abdomen the following day.

“The doctors tell me and they’re like, he’s good,” Cashman said. “Just give it some time and get it going again. So, as far as I’m concerned, that’s in the rearview mirror even though he hasn’t played yet. That’s more of a timing issue rather than a concern issue. And he’s a pro, he knows how to get ready and knock the rust off. I’m not worried about it.”

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