On Sunday, rumor had it that Gerrit Cole wouldn't appear in the All-Star Game, joining his Yankees teammate Aaron Judge as an absentee addition. If true, that would've left the Yanks without a single All-Star participant.
Not sure what changed or who Cole lobbied during the intervening 24 hours, but things reversed significantly on Monday afternoon.
Not only will the Yankees' ace be participating in the game, but he'll be starting for the American League, becoming the first Yankee pitcher to get that nod since Roger Clemens in 2001. His opponent that year was Randy Johnson of the D-Backs. That game took place in Seattle. This year's game represents the contest's return to Seattle, and Cole will be facing another Diamondback in Zac Gallen. Ain't baseball great?!
In advance of his inning (or two, but probably not) of tossing in Seattle (on his throw day), Cole stopped by the FOX Sports desk during All-Star Workout Day on Monday afternoon to chop it up with Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, and most importantly Derek Jeter. While attempting to break down how he'd approach sending all three legendary hitters back to the dugout, he did take the chance to swipe at Jeter for being unable to play both halves of a doubleheader back in the day, missing the Pirates right-hander in the process.
Yankees ace Gerrit Cole wishes Derek Jeter hadn't ducked him
"He wanted the first one, and he ducked me in the second one," Cole jokingly (with a pained smile) said about a 2014 doubleheader in Pittsburgh where the Yankees split. In the opener, Jeter went 1-for-4 in helping Hiroki Kuroda defeat the Pirates. In the nightcap, he sat while Cole led the Buccos to a 5-3 victory, but pinch-hit late, the biggest indignity of all. Alfredo Aceves took the loss. Jeter faced Tony Watson instead. He singled.
And, to answer the question on everybody's lips: Yes, Yangervis Solarte did tie the game off Cole with a sixth-inning homer.
Cole, a lifelong Yankee fan, surely would've cherished having the chance to face Jeter, even during the later years of his career. Technically, Jeter could begrudgingly step in the box Monday night and give Cole his very best 49-year-old approach, but something tells us the over-competitive right-hander wouldn't be satisfied by that.
He'll get the chance to prove his mettle, with Jeter watching closely, on Tuesday night against the very best the National League has to offer, hoping to slice through the 2023 equivalent of Jeter/Rodriguez/Ortiz. That will have to be good enough.