One of the highlights of the upcoming World Baseball Classic in March was going to be watching Yankees 2021-22 sensation Nestor Cortes pitch for Team USA as part of its 2017 title defense. The man was clearly excited to do so as well, if his Instagram is any indication.
Unfortunately for Nestor, Team USA, and the Yankees themselves, it’s not meant to be. Ken Rosenthal reported on Monday afternoon that Cortes has been pulled from the Team USA roster due to a hamstring injury.
Yankees LHP Nestor Cortes Jr. out of World Baseball Classic, sources tell @TheAthletic. Was set to pitch for Team USA, but recently tweaked hamstring. Leaves C Kyle Higashioka (USA), 2B Gleyber Torres (Venezuela) and RH Jonathan Loáisiga (Nicaragua) as only Yankees in tournament.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 13, 2023
For those interested, Rockies right-hander Kyle Freeland will take Cortes’ spot on Team USA.
The nature of Cortes’ injury is unknown at the moment, but if it’s a standard hamstring injury, there’s certainly reason to be optimistic that he will be all set to make the Opening Day roster over six weeks from now. The Yankees are set to play the Giants from March 30th-April 2nd at Yankee Stadium, and Cortes has a pretty good chance to start one of those games, though an April 3rd outing at home against the Phillies is also a possibility.
Odds are that both Cortes and the Yankees are just playing it safe and restricting him to exhibition play to work his way back from the tweaked hamstring. The 28-year-old southpaw and defending All-Star is expected to play a key role in the rotation alongside ace Gerrit Cole, newcomer Carlos Rodón, and the ever-tantalizing Luis Severino. Let’s hope that Cortes makes a quick comeback.
Nestor Cortes says he has a low Grade 2 hamstring strain. Plan as of now is no throwing off a mound for a few weeks. He is throwing, however. Not ruling out opening week readiness— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) February 13, 2023
The specifics on Cortes’ hammy injury and rehab have been revealed in the Andy Martino tweet above. As expected, he has his eyes set on Opening Day. If he can’t make it, the odds are that both Domingo Germán and Clarke Schmidt will join the rotation for the first go-around rather than just one of them (in place of the already-out Frankie Montas).