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Gerrit Cole doesn’t want to be a pitching coach, but he can’t help but be helpful

As Luis Gil worked in the bullpen at Tropicana Field on May 10, Gerrit Cole could be seen advising the young pitcher from the side of the mound.

With his leg raised and his arms swaying back and forth, Cole repeatedly mimicked the point in a pitcher’s delivery where they break their hands before their stride toward the plate. The hard-throwing Gil has battled command issues, and Cole wanted to help him with his rhythm and timing.

With Marlon Abreu, the Yankees’ Spanish interpreter, translating Cole’s every word, Gil fixated on his teammate.

“I’m always paying attention to anything that he has to offer for me,” Gil told the Daily News after Cole also gave him some mid-game pointers during his May 7 start.

Just about every pitcher on the Yankees responds the same way when Cole speaks. If the reigning Cy Young winner has something to say, as he often does, they listen.

“He’s really locked in on what we’ve got going on and scouting reports and how can we maximize everybody and get the most out of everyone,” said Clarke Schmidt, who adjusted his recovery routine this season following conversations with Cole. “He’s definitely locked in on that. It’s good to have kind of an extra pitching coach.”

There have been numerous stories written about Cole being an unofficial pitching coach, especially ever since elbow inflammation shut him down in spring training. With more free time on his hands before and during a rehab that continues to slowly ramp up, it’s been easy to find examples of Cole educating his teammates, though that’s something he’s always happily done.

“I think he’s been the same guy,” Carlos Rodón said when asked if Cole has been teaching more since his injury. “He’s always willing to help. He always wants to help.”

What Cole does not want to do is become an official pitching coach whenever his playing career ends. In fact, he burst out laughing at the idea.

“You never say never, but probably not, no,” Cole told The News. “I’m probably going to be in this game until I’m exhausted, and then I’m gonna go home.”

On one hand, the answer hardly came as a surprise. After all, Cole is inked to a $324 million contract, and he has two young children at home. He’ll have better ways to spend his retirement than grinding out long, travel-heavy seasons in a job that pays significantly less than what he’s making now.

But on the flip side, Cole is a savant when it comes to the art of pitching, and he’s obsessed with the profession. He demonstrates this whenever he guides other Yankees or utters longwinded answers on the finest details of his craft.

With all the insight and passion he can provide, would he really just walk away from the game for good once he hangs up his spikes?

“I’d say more likely than not,” said Cole, still chuckling when that point was raised. “I mean, I guess we’ll see.”

Okay, so “Gerrit Cole, Yankees Pitching Coach” doesn’t sound like something fans should expect in the future. Is there any other way he could tutor once he’s no longer playing?

Several former pitchers, including Andy Pettitte, CC Sabathia and Ron Guidry, have worked with the Yankees as advisors and/or guest instructors in retirement. Pettitte, who currently holds the title of special assistant to general manager Brian Cashman, has been the most present this season, hanging around the team, throwing batting practice, watching bullpens, getting up to speed on analytics and generally helping the pitching staff while maintaining a flexible schedule.

“I think Pettitte’s role is a good example of what it could look like for a lot of these guys,” Matt Blake, the Yankees’ actual pitching coach, said when asked about Cole’s coaching prospects. “You have an advisory role that allows you to stay in the rhythm of it, but you’re not on a daily schedule of managing 162 games. That’s something that I would think a lot of the guys like to look at.”

Would Cole be one of those guys?

“Uh… too early to say,” he said.

That’s fair. Cole, 33, isn’t close to retiring, so he won’t have to make any decisions for a while.

That said, he’s certainly built a strong résumé if he ever wants to apply for one of these jobs.

His accolades and stats would help his case, but so would his communication skills and candor.

“He’s got a good way about him,” said Blake, who welcomes Cole’s input in meetings and eagerness to champion ideas being pushed by the Yankees’ pitching department. “He’s obviously got a lot to offer, and he’s pretty direct with his thoughts. But he does a good job of learning where to fit in with the rhythm of the conversation and what guys need in a certain moment.”

Added Luke Weaver, who made tweaks to his changeup following a bullpen chat with Cole on March 29: “He’s very honest. I mean, he’s not trying to hurt your feelings by any means. But he gets the point across, and I think there’s no fluff that’s needed in these types of conversations.”

Every pitcher The News spoke with said that they were grateful for Cole’s inclination to help them. Healthy or not, he doesn’t need to put his extra time and energy into his teammates.

The fact that he always has is appreciated.

“He’s making so much money but still cares like he’s still grinding and he’s still trying to prove more than what he already has,” Nestor Cortes said. “So that’s one thing that I’ve always looked up to him for and have thanked him for, because any other guy could probably just cash it in and be like, ‘Whatever, I’m making so much money that I don’t really care about you.’ But he’s the type of guy that cares about his teammates.”

In relaying that sentiment to Cole, he was asked why he goes out of his way so often. He has his own rehab, his own starts, his own career to worry about.

Yet he’s constantly dedicating his time to other pitchers.

“That’s probably partly just my personality,” Cole said before pausing to think for a few seconds. “I don’t know. Part of it is just ingrained. It’s natural. Part of it is trying to win. I want my teammates to be as good as possible.

“If there’s anything I can do to help that, I very much enjoy that.”


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