Yankees pitcher Cortes emerges pain-free from first spring training start after injury-marred 2023

New York Yankees starting pitcher Nestor Cortes (65) throws a pitch during the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Minnesota Twins Monday, Feb. 26, 2024, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Nestor Cortes wasn’t exactly nasty in his first spring training appearance, but the New York Yankees left-handed emerged from Monday’s game against Minnesota feeling good.

After an injury-marred 2023, it’s a start.


“Everything positive, pitches really crisp,” Cortes said after allowing two runs and seven hits with four strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings. “And most important, got out of there healthy. So a big step forward.”

Cortes went 5-2 with a 4.97 ERA in 12 games last year and made just one start after May 30 while dealing with a rotator cuff injury.

Yankees third baseman DJ LeMahieu made his spring training debut and stayed in the game after taking a bad hop infield RBI single by Jair Camargo off the face in the third.

LeMahieu said he was fine after the ball hit his glasses near the top of his nose.

LeMahieu singled in two at-bats. He was slowed by a foot injury in 2023 and hit just .243.

“I feel good,” LeMahieu said. “Good to be out there today. I felt good running. Been feeling really good swinging. Just moving better. I feel prepared and I have a good foundation, and ready to keep building for the long haul.”

Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton went 0 for 3 as the designated hitter in his first game after another injury-marred season.

A markedly slimmer Stanton lined out twice, including a 104.3 mph drive to center on his initial at-bat.

Stanton hit .191 average with 24 homers and 60 RBIs last season, and has not played a full season since 2018, the first year after New York acquired him from the Miami Marlins.

Sho-time starts today, Yamomoto takes the hill Wednesday

Shohei Ohtani will make his exhibition debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers when he serves as the designated hitter for Los Angeles today against the Chicago White Sox.

Los Angeles has been taking it slowly with the two-way star, who signed a record $700 million, 10-year contract during the offseason. The two-time MVP is coming off right elbow surgery last September that will keep him from pitching this year.

Ohtani did take live batting practice on Sunday, with Dodgers manager Dave Roberts saying the sport’s biggest star looked “good.”

The 29-year-old Ohtani is further along in his recovery than Los Angeles anticipated, and the team hopes he will be available when the Dodgers and the San Diego Padres open the regular season by playing a two-game series in Seoul, South Korea, on March 20 and 21.

“Most importantly is his health,” Roberts told reporters. “So if it lines up, great. And if it doesn’t, then we’ll still move on from there.”

The Dodgers also announced that right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto is scheduled to make his first Cactus League appearance on Wednesday against Texas.

Los Angeles gave the 25-year-old Yamamoto a $325-million, 12-year deal in December after bringing him over from Japan, where he won three straight Most Valuable Player awards in the Nippon Pacific League.

Yamamoto will wear a custom-made glove featuring the Japanese flag on the outside of the webbing.

Homecoming for Hernández

The Dodgers and former World Series star Kiké Hernández agreed to a $4 million, one-year contract.

When Los Angeles agreed to trade outfielder Manuel Margot to Minnesota, it opened up a spot on their bench for Hernández, a free agent after finishing the 2023 season with the Dodgers.

The 32-year-old utility player has spent the vast majority of his career with Los Angeles, first from 2015-20 and then again during the second half of last season after Boston traded him back to the Dodgers.

Hernández hit .237 with 11 home runs and 61 RBIs in 140 games with the Red Sox and Los Angeles in 2023.

Montgomery to Boston?

The Boston Red Sox have touched base with free agent left-hander Jordan Montgomery as they search for another starting pitcher, preferably one that can fit in at or near the top of the rotation.

Manager Alex Cora confirmed an ESPN report that the Red Sox held a video conference meeting with Montgomery “recently” but declined to get into specifics.

“I think we’re working (to add a starting pitcher),” Cora said. “We’re working hard towards that. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. But we’ve been working hard the whole offseason. It’s not a lack of trying.”

The 31-year-old Montgomery starred for Texas last fall, helping the Rangers win the franchise’s first World Series. Montgomery went 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA in appearances against Houston.

Phillies trio to make debut Wednesday

Bryce Harper, catcher J.T. Realmuto and third baseman Alec Bohm are expected to make their initial spring training appearances on Wednesday when Philadelphia hosts Atlanta.

Harper is transitioning to first base full-time this season after moving there last year when he returned from Tommy John surgery. Bohm, who hit a career-best 20 home runs last season for the Phillies, has been slowed by a neck problem.

Buxton’s back

Twins center fielder Byron Buxton is set to play in his first spring training game Tuesday after having offseason arthroscopic surgery on his troublesome right knee.

“The getting back on the horse in the outfield part for him is real,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “It’ll take a game or two because he may play half the game, probably not even that much, tomorrow. It’ll take a few games for him to get comfortable back out there in the field, but I don’t think once he’s out there, I don’t think it’s going to take that long.”

Buxton also had a cleanup procedure on the knee in 2022. The second overall pick in the 2012 amateur draft, the 30-year-old Buxton made his major league debut in 2015 but has not made it through a full season without landing on the injured list. In 85 games in 2023, Buxton batted .207 with 17 home runs and 42 RBIs.

Carpenter sits

The St. Louis Cardinals scratched veteran designated hitter Matt Carpenter before Monday’s game against Miami with a bruised left wrist.

Carpenter re-joined St. Louis — where he played from 2011-21 — in January with a one-year deal. He was hit by a pitch in Sunday’s game against Houston, and the 38-year-old’s status is day to day.

Rocky return for Roansy

Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Roansy Contreras’ bid to return to the majors didn’t get off to the best start. The 24-year-old right-hander allowed two runs and four hits with a walk and no strikeouts in two innings against Toronto.

Contreras is hoping to bounce back after a bumpy 2023 in which he was demoted to the minors after going 3-7 with a 6.59 ERA. His fastball velocity dipped after a solid April and he eventually landed at the team’s minor league complex in Bradenton to try to figure things out.

Though Contreras wasn’t particularly crisp, his fastball averaged around 95 mph on Monday.

The Pirates potentially have two open spots in the starting rotation alongside Mitch Keller, Marco Gonzales and Martín Pérez.

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