Gerrit Cole threw his first live batting practice of the spring on Monday and he had Gary Sanchez behind the plate.
One of the storylines of the spring — and beyond — will be who the Yankees team with their ace after Cole had so much more success pitching to Kyle Higashioka than to Sanchez.
Perhaps complicating matters is the arrival of Robinson Chirinos, who is in camp on a minor league deal. He caught 16 of Cole’s starts in Houston in 2019 and Cole mentioned his relationship with Chirinos last week.
“In 2019, we were able to be on the same page,’’ Chirinos said. “Gerrit is a tough guy to catch. He likes to talk. It was a challenge.”
In those 16 starts two years ago, Cole had a 2.46 ERA. He also worked with Martin Maldonado and in those 10 outings, had a 1.57 ERA.
Cole, in his first season with the Yankees, struggled at times with Sanchez in the game. Over eight starts, Cole had a 3.91 ERA, which led to a switch late in the year, as Higashioka took over as Cole’s personal catcher. In those seven starts — including the postseason — Cole finished with a 1.79 ERA.
And while the Yankees seem set with Sanchez and Higashioka, Chirinos said he’s not thinking about beginning the season in the minors.
“That’s not where I have my mind right now,’’ Chirinos said. “I know those guys are really good and have been here a long time. I came in this spring to show I’m healthy, let [the Yankees] choose and make a decision.”
Chirinos is also rooting for Sanchez to bounce back.
“He’s working hard,’’ Chirinos said. “That’s the only thing you ask as a teammate. Hopefully he turns around and leaves the bad years in the past. He’s a huge key for this team.”