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AL Cy Young Award winner Gerrit Cole to make season debut for Yankees on Wednesday night vs. Orioles

NEW YORK (AP) — AL Cy Young Award winner Gerrit Cole is to make his season debut for the New York Yankees against the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday night after recovering from nerve inflammation and edema in his right elbow that had sidelined him since spring training.

A 33-year-old right-hander, Cole made three starts during a minor league injury rehabilitation assignment.

“This is still part of a process for him. He’s not at full strength yet,” Yankees bench coach Brad Ausmus said Tuesday. “But the medical staff and the coaching staff feels like he’s certainly strong enough to make a start up here, but there’s going to be watchful eyes on him because we certainly want Gerrit Cole for the entire season. But this is a great first step because we need him back in the rotation.”

Cole threw 45 pitches in his first start on June 4 and 57 in his second on June 9, both at Double-A Somerset. He threw 70 pitches Friday for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, striking out 10 over 4 1/3 innings while giving up two hits and allowing an unearned run.

Cole struck out 19 and walked none over 12 1/3 innings in three minor league rehab outings.

He made his only spring training start on March 1, then was told to rest. He began throwing bullpen sessions on May 4.

“This is another step in returning him to full Gerrit Cole Cy Young form,” Ausmus said.

Cole was a unanimous winner of last year’s AL Cy Young after going 15-4 with 222 strikeouts while leading the AL in ERA (2.63) and innings (209).

A six-time All-Star, Cole is in 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.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

The Associated Press