TAMPA — Nestor Cortes feels like he’s ready to get back into the Yankees’ rotation.
The left-hander, on the 15-day IL with a strained groin, threw live BP for the first time since the injury on Saturday and was encouraged by how he felt. Cortes believes he’ll be able to rejoin the rotation during the upcoming series against the Twins in The Bronx next week after throwing another bullpen Monday or Tuesday.
“It was great,’’ Cortes said after his three-inning, 45-pitch outing against minor leaguers at the team’s Player Development complex. “It went as I expected.”
Cortes said there was no discomfort on any of the pitches — including a handful of sidearm pitches, which he threw to make sure those didn’t cause an issue.
“That tests my groin more, when I drop down,’’ Cortes said.
He also fielded some bunts and the injury wasn’t a concern.
Cortes noted that he got his velocity up to 92-94 MPH on some pitches, which is where he wants to be during games.
“I never stopped throwing [while on the IL], so I don’t really have to build myself back up,” Cortes said.
His return would be a rare bit of good news for a Yankees team that has staggered into September, with their once overwhelming lead of 15 1/2 games cut to five heading into Saturday’s game against the Rays at Tropicana Field.
Luis Severino has so far reported no problems after his rehab start on Friday with Low-A Tampa, as he looks to rejoin the rotation when he’s able to come off the 60-day IL on Sept. 12.
While the return of both starters would no doubt provide a boost, the team’s major issue has been a lack of offense and that’s not something Cortes and Severino can solve.
Domingo German, who has filled in for Severino, has been especially effective, including in Friday night’s loss to the Rays.
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