TAMPA – Until Sunday, Roger Clemens' first punch practice session 21 years ago at Legends Field was the standard for the excitement that a new Yankees pitcher created.
The benchmark was raised after Gerrit Cole's one-inning game against four players on Steinbrenner Field.
The other pitchers James Paxton, Luis Severino and Zack Britton watched GM Brian Cashman from behind on the screens to the right of the home plate. Aaron Boone and pitching trainer Matt Blake stood next to the video machine, behind a screen in the back of the hill that captured Cole's every move. Cashman's lieutenants, Jim Hendry and Tim Naehring, sat in the sun-drenched seats behind the plate and near the third base coach Phil Nevin, who was sitting on a box-seat wall.
And when Cole completed 27-pitch training consisting of only fastballs and bills of exchange, around 1,000 spectators applauded the right-hander who had the challenge of leading the Yankees to their first World Series title since 2009.
“It was the first time that I had a standing ovation because I had my first live BP. I can tell you that, ”said Cole, who previously advertised for the Pirates and Astros before signing a $ 324 million nine-year contract in December to become the face of the Yankees' pitching staff.
Clemens came from the Blue Jays on the eve of the 1999 spring training session, and his first BP session was known for Derek Jeter and Chuck Knoblauch putting on catcher gear to face the game's best pitcher who succeeded in throwing inside.
"I liked the way I felt, a good sweat," said Cole of his work, highlighted by every movement that served a purpose. “In the end, I increased tolerance and felt a little bit tired. I felt like I was doing a good job. "
Cole said he would host another live BP session to prepare for his debut in the show season. Since this is scheduled for Saturday at Steinbrenner Field against the Blue Jays and will be broadcast by YES to Yankees fans everywhere on TV, Figure Cole Boone's starter will be.
Working with catcher Gary Sanchez, Cole was faced with imports from minor league players like Hemmanuel Rosario, Matt Pita, Alex Guerrero and Yankees backup catcher Kyle Higashioka, who beat up a badly placed move to the left field.
"He hadn't swung the fastball yet and I threw a badly localized swing count change," said Cole of the field.
Cole also threw a field that seemed like a breaking ball, but wasn't.
"Bad change, I pulled it," said Cole.
According to Cole, the focus was not on switching or fastball.
"The main focus was on the volume, the feeling of well-being, not getting too far tired and trying to keep the action on my fastball every time," said Cole.
It was the third time that Cole was paired with Sanchez, who was asked in this camp to improve the conditions in the lower part of the strike zone.
"It's three times," said Cole when asked about his relationship with Sanchez. "It's as good as three times."
From one broadcast booth and the opposite shelter, Boone Coles experienced intensity and attention to detail. On Sunday he saw it live in a controlled environment.
"Just another high point behind the type of competitor and the intensity and confidence he has when climbing the hill and the seriousness with which he takes it," said Boone of his 29-year-old ace, his first BP session was as serious as Clemens and set the standard for the next high profile pitcher the Yankees import.