Yankees’ Gerrit Cole could soon face live batters during injury rehab

Gerrit Cole is starting to feel the itch as he continues to build his rehab workload.

The Yankees ace took his latest step Saturday, throwing a 40-pitch bullpen session that was the equivalent of two innings after his first four sessions involved just one up.

Cole threw 20 pitches, sat for a few minutes and then threw 20 more, with Oswaldo Cabrera and Jahmai Jones standing in without swinging.

Assuming he recovers well from Saturday, Cole’s next step could be facing hitters in live batting practice for the first time since he was shut down in March with elbow nerve inflammation and edema.

“That’s certainly a possibility early next week,” Cole told The Post.

Gerrit Cole could soon face some real hitters.
Gerrit Cole could soon face some real hitters. Robert Sabo for NY Post

The reigning AL Cy Young winner did not want to get too far ahead of himself — he still has a ways to go and more boxes to check off before he could return by late June or early July — but his excitement about his progress and how he has been feeling physically was evident.

“Today was a really good day,” Cole said. “Today was a lot of fun. Got a couple stand-ins in. Was able to bump the [velocity] a little bit.”

After a session in which his fastball velocity sat in the low 90s and he threw all his pitches, Cole indicated things were beginning to feel more real as he ups his workload.

“It’s starting to come,” he said.

Pitching coach Matt Blake said he can sense Cole starting to champ at the bit.

New York Yankees starting pitcher Gerrit Cole
New York Yankees starting pitcher Gerrit Cole has been working his way back. JASON SZENES FOR THE NEW YORK POST

“I think that’s a big one for him to check that box,” Blake said. “Each one, he’s gaining confidence in that the arm’s bouncing back and the stuff’s been sharp. For where he is in the progression, I think we all feel pretty good about it.”

Blake said the next step would either be repeating the two-up bullpen session or facing hitters, depending on how Cole bounces back from Saturday.

Once Cole advances to live batting practice sessions, he would need a handful of those before going out on a rehab assignment.

“[He’s] probably a step ahead of where he was when he came into camp this year, which is encouraging,” Blake said. “Probably one notch ahead of a typical spring training progression.”

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