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Yankees ace Gerrit Cole expected to begin season on injured list due to elbow issue

Cole will reportedly visit Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles for further testing

New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole has reportedly been shut down from throwing and is expected to begin the season on the injured list due to a right elbow issue.

The New York Post reported Wednesday that Cole could miss one-to-two months and will fly to Los Angeles this week to meet with sports surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache and undergo further testing.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone on Tuesday ruled Cole out for Opening Day as the team was awaiting results from an MRI.

"His recovery, before getting to his next start, has been more akin to what he feels during the season, when he's making 100 pitches," Boone told reporters. "When he's at 45 [pitches] and building to 55, he usually doesn't have the recovery issues he's having.

"I think there's a level of discomfort, but I wouldn't describe it as he's in pain."

Boone said during Wednesday's Yankees game against the Boston Red Sox that "There's still more [testing] to go. ... As of now, it's still going through the test phase."

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Gerrit Cole started 33 games for the Yankees during the 2023 season, posting a 2.63 ERA, 0.981 WHIP and 222 strikeouts in 209 innings. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Gerrit Cole started 33 games for the Yankees during the 2023 season, posting a 2.63 ERA, 0.981 WHIP and 222 strikeouts in 209 innings. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The Post reports that the 2023 AL Cy Young Award winner is expected to miss an "extended period" of time, but the Yankees are hoping for Cole to return in May or June.

The initial readings of Cole earlier in the week were optimistic, with the belief the issue could be resolved with rest and other conservative treatments, but ElAttrache has recommended more testing, raising the level of worry.

Even if a May or June return is in the cards, Cole will still need time to allow for inflammation to subside and then restart his throwing program in order to return to the mound at 100 percent.

Cole, 33, is in the fifth year of a nine-year, $324 million contract with the Yankees signed in 2020.

Where do the Yankees go without Cole?

If Cole is expected to miss months of the season, that will prompt questions for general manager Brian Cashman as to whether he will find a replacement in the free-agent market or via trade. The Yankees have reportedly held talks with free agent Blake Snell and with the Chicago White Sox about starter Dylan Cease.

Nothing has materialized yet, but losing Cole for any amount of time would create a big void in the Yankees' starting rotation.