TAMPA — It took about a decade longer than they would have liked, but Gerrit Cole finally threw his first pitches as a Yankee on Wednesday, as the team got a look at the $324-million pitcher when he arrived to spring training and threw his side session in pinstripes.
And while the bullpen session wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, Aaron Boone was still impressed with his new top pitcher.
“His attention to detail is special,’’ the manager said. “It was a good first day for him.”
Cole had a lengthy chat with Boone and other staff members after the session, which is what stood out most to his new manager.
“To get to have a conversation with him and to see him confirming all those things we saw from him this winter when we got to meet with him [was good],’’ Boone said. “How specific he is about everything he’s doing and just that understanding of every pitch he makes, what he’s doing, what it needs to look like and his mechanics involved with it.’’
It’s that mindset that attracted the Yankees to Cole, both when they drafted him out of high school in 2008 and when they inked him to the nine-year deal this offseason in the richest contract ever for a pitcher.
“He’s arguably the game’s best pitcher, so we’re adding a bona fide ace to what we already feel like is a really good rotation,’’ Boone said.
Cole is set to meet the media on Thursday. He was the key offseason move for a team that reached the ALCS a year ago, and lost to a Houston team led by Cole.
“We feel like he’s that anchor at the top,’’ Boone said. “When you have an ace, it’s not only about the greatness they provide on that day, but it’s also that they eat up a lot of innings. It has that trickle-down effect and will make our great bullpen even better. I’m excited to have him come here. I know this is place he wants to be and feels like it’s a little bit of destiny, him finally getting here.”
Gary Sanchez caught Cole’s bullpen, which featured just fastballs and changeups, but the catcher also is looking forward to seeing what’s to come.
“We just added one of the best pitchers in the game to our team,’’ Sanchez said through an interpreter. “We had a really good rotation. That’s what I believe. And now we had the opportunity to add Gerrit Cole. It’s great. If you look up what he has done the last couple of years, he has been incredibly impressive. To add someone like that now to our team, it just gets better.”
Sanchez said he’ll enjoy catching him more than hitting against the right-hander.
“Facing a guy like him who throws hard, you have to look for a pitch and not miss that one pitch,’’ Sanchez said. “You only get one chance. So it’s tough. You don’t have a lot of time to put the ball in play. All the pitches he has, trying not to miss the one that you get, that’s what makes him very hard to hit.”