Day 4 of Spring Training at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida, saw the Yankees get several pitchers extended work on the field and sides Sunday morning and afternoon.
Chief among New York's arms in action was ace right-hander Gerrit Cole, who attracted a crowd and threw live batting practice, exiting the mound to cheers from fans on hand.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone met the media after the group's latest workout, doling out updates on Cole and a handful multiple other starters. Below are five takeaways from Boone's latest session.
On Gerrit Cole...
Tampa has been buzzing since Cole stepped foot into Spring Training with the Yankees, making his latest move forward in pinstripes when he threw live batting practice to catcher Gary Sanchez. Cole threw 27 pitches, striking out five batters and inducing one pop up against one hit -- catcher Kyle Higashioka, according to MLB.com's Bryan Hoch -- in the session.
"There's a little buzz when he walks to the mound and there's obviously an excitement with the crowd that's around and a lot of our guys out to see him, but just another peak behind kind of the competitor, the intensity, the confidence he has when he gets on the mound and the seriousness with which he takes it," Boone said of Cole. "So, obviously, he was just working fastball, changeup today. I thought his execution for Day 1 -- for any day, frankly -- was really good."
On Gary Sanchez...
Working with Cole for only the third time, Sanchez and the new Yankees ace continue to build their relationship as they get acclimated. Cole discussed the development in communication between the two in their latest session, and they left a similar impression on Boone when asked about the pair's chemistry.
"I think good," Boone said of Sanchez's rapport with Cole. "I know I think Gary sees how specific and how much Gerrit understands his craft -- I think Gary's taken to that, I think understands that and I know Gary has already started to dive into, 'OK, what are Gerrit's strengths that we need to accentuate and make sure we're working on,' and just developing that relationship so Gary can be that, one of those instant-feedback guys for Gerrit because he's the one back there catching. So important that that relationship gets established and continues to get developed."
Gerrit Cole. Pitching. To an actual batter. In a Yankees uniform. pic.twitter.com/iPfwFWrTdx- Yankees Videos (@snyyankees) February 16, 2020
On Jordan Montgomery...
Making a run for a spot in the rotation with past experience as a starter, Jordan Montgomery also threw live batting practice Sunday. Boone evaluated the effort by the lefty, who returned late in the 2019 season from June 2018 Tommy John surgery continues to show promising signs.
"Another one excited about," Boone said of Montgomery. "He was the one guy that had two ups. Obviously, I think he threw 35 or 36 or so pitches. Another guy that I thought executed really well today, really being intentional with some of the things he's working on -- being able to strike his secondary stuff, being able to drive his fastball in on right-handed hitters. I thought today was another good buildiong block for him and another confidence builder as he gets ready to go here."
On Clarke Schmidt...
Perhaps one of the lesser-known arms in the mix, given his age, Clarke Schmidt stood out to Boone as well in live batting practice Sunday. Not to be discounted for a spot in the starting rotation, Schmidt -- who turns 24 on Thursday -- is the Yankees' No. 3 pitching prospect behind fellow righties Deivi Garcia (No. 1 overall) and Luis Gil (No. 4 overall), according to MLB Pipeline's 2019 Prospect Watch, but turned heads at Double-A Trenton near the end of 2019 with a 2-0 record, 2.37 earned-run average and 19 strikeouts to one walk in 19.0 innings pitched over three starts.
"Not to keep getting too excited about everyone, but I thought it was a really good day for our pitchers," Boone said. "Day 4, I feel really good about where guys are, including Clarke -- is definitely one of those guys. You got a peak at today -- just the ability to fill up the strike zone with really good stuff. Really good command, feel of the breaking ball and a presence to him on the mound. There's a confidence to him as well. He seems to have a really good understanding, at a young age, of who he is and what he wants to do and he was terrific today."
On Luis Severino...
The Yankees' ace as a two-time All-Star selection from 2017-18, Severino returned late in 2019 and contributed into the postseason after missing most of the season due to injuries. As he progresses through February with health chief among his goals for 2020, Severino is ramping up his regimen after he threw a side bullpen -- first of the spring -- Sunday.
"Good," Boone said of Severino's bullpen. "Again, fastball, slider -- I thought his fastball command was really sharp. We'll start incorporating the changeup more in his next sides, but I thought really good. I thought fastball, slider combo -- I think he threw 25 pitches today, so another good step for him and keeping him on track."