NEW YORK, NY – Yankees pitcher Nestor Cortes is the latest player to drop out of the World Baseball Classic. A hamstring strain in his right leg is the cause for the lefties exit. That leaves only three players from the Yankees to represent in the WBC. Infielder Gleyber Torres will play for Venezuela, righty pitcher Jonathan Loaisiga heads to team Nicaragua, and catcher Kyle Higashioka with the USA squad.
With projected starter Frankie Montas on the disabled list the Yankees held onto Cortes’ right leg, and strained it enough so he’ll stay in Tampa to get ready for the upcoming season.
It was a little over two months ago when Cortes showed up on the set of a reality series called, “The Tryout.” He was one of the judges who made his way to the Huggins- Stengel field in St. Pete, Florida.
Cortes was as humble as can be, as he inspected the pitcher’s mound on the legendary diamond. Another one of the judges named Doc Gooden gave Nestor some tips on what to throw in certain situations. The Yankees most reliable pitcher had his juices flowing. Nestor then looked at me and asked if he can chuck a few. I ran 60 feet and 6 inches into the catcher’s box before he changed his mind.
Here I was an aging ballplayer, getting ready to catch a Major Leaguer’s pitches. This wasn’t any big leaguer, Cortes for me was the Yankees true ace. He threw a few fastballs before he started going into his funky motion. A variety of pitches connected with my mitt. Everything he threw to me had a spin. I was catching pitches that had a wicked movement.
After his eighth pitch I realized that this dude from Miami was wearing sneakers on the mound. They just weren’t any pair of sneakers. Cortes’ kicks were the Nike Air Jordan 1 OG SPX Travis Scott Reverse Mochas. I pleaded with him to take them off so he won’t ruin them. I offered him a pair of my cleats I had in the trunk of my car. All he cared about was throwing a few more pitches. He told me he had another pair of them back home as I made my way behind the plate.
Nestor’s stuff was nasty. His pitches were filthy as the movement handcuffed me. The last three pitches were rising fastballs, and then he walked off the mound. He thanked me profusely while I thanked him for making my day.
Yankees Community Advisor Ray Negron, who was also one of the judges, taped the whole thing. I believe I thanked Ray more for taping the experience than I did Nestor for creating it.
I had first-hand knowledge in seeing what this nasty lefty threw hitters during the season. He told me it was the first time he threw since his early departure from last October’s playoff game.
Even though he didn’t go full speed and wasn’t wearing the proper footwear, he lived up to his nickname of
It’s a shame that Team USA will not have Cortes on the mound so the world can see a 2023 version of Cuba’s greatest pitcher, Luis Tiant.