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Yankees’ Aaron Boone has no worries over Gerrit Cole’s velocity slip

TAMPA — Gerrit Cole got through his fifth and final Grapefruit League start on Friday feeling healthy and ready for the regular season.

Next up is Opening Day in The Bronx.

Cole tossed 5 ²/₃ innings of one-run ball against the Twins, working his pitch count up to 84 without issuing a walk and striking out three in his final spring tuneup.

“It was a good day,” Cole said after the Yankees’ 6-4 loss at Steinbrenner Field.

Cole’s fastball averaged 96.4 mph — down a tick from where it was earlier this spring — but neither he nor manager Aaron Boone was concerned.

“I saw a lot of 94-95, but I saw some sevens and eights, too,” Boone said. “I think he was wanting to do some different things, wanting to get his changeup involved a little bit more today, do some things from a sequencing standpoint. I thought it was a good day for him of things he wanted to accomplish heading into Opening Day.”

Gerrit Cole throws against the Minnesota Twins in the first inning of a spring training baseball game.
Aaron Boone
Getty Images

After walking off the mound in the sixth inning, Cole got a high-five from his son, Caden, who was waiting in the stands just next to the dugout.

Across five starts this spring, Cole posted a 3.32 ERA with 27 strikeouts and only one walk in 21 ²/₃ innings.

Aaron Judge’s arm works just as well from left field as it does from right field.

Making his fourth start of the spring in left field on Friday, Judge got much more action than he did in the first three games, including a chance to throw out Twins infielder Edouard Julien as he tried to stretch a single into a double.

Judge went back to the left-field wall to field the ball on a bounce, then turned and fired to nab Julien at second base.

Aaron Judge throws to second baseman Wilmer Difo, who tagged out Minnesota Twins Edouard Julien.

Judge, who could start at times in left field at Yankee Stadium so Giancarlo Stanton can play in right, also tracked down an array of fly balls and handled them well.

“Those are classic tester left field balls,” Boone said. “The slicer over towards the line, the slicer back in the gap, obviously a great throw. Good to see him have some balls unique to left field. Thought he looked really comfortable.”

Jimmy Cordero threw 1 ²/₃ scoreless innings in relief of Cole and struck out three, further strengthening his case to make the Opening Day roster. His spot seems all but locked up.

“Cordero has put himself right there in a good spot,” Boone said.

Carlos Rodon (forearm muscle strain) came out of a bullpen session Thursday feeling good and will likely throw another bullpen session on Monday, when he will mix in breaking balls. If he continues to feel healthy, a live batting practice session would come next.