Scott Boras will love Nestor Cortes' somewhat worrisome spring training comments

He's good...right?

Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees
Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

While elbow surgery is the most common long-term pitcher bogeyman, the recovery from shoulder issues tends to be far less predictable (see: Frankie Montas). That's why Yankees left-hander Nestor Cortes Jr. succumbing to a rotator cuff injury, returning to make exactly one start, then succumbing to another one was such a worrisome footnote on 2023's dumpster fire.

Even one strain of the area could mean surgical uncertainty and the potential of a drop-off in a pitcher's arsenal and effectiveness. Two in one season, the second immediately following Cortes' best outing of the year, where he was zipping his hardest heater past the Houston Astros? The timeline for his recovery seemed nebulous at best.

Cortes showed off his offseason throwing program via Instagram a few months back, and reported to camp early alongside Carlos Rodón, a move that was thought to be all about showing a little extra effort ahead of a pivotal season.

Turns out? Yes, it was certainly motivation-related, but Cortes showed up early in part because initially struggled to get "past the hump" with his shoulder injury and called in the team's training staff for some extra help. According to Bryan Hoch, he "expects" to be ready for the start of the season and is still monitoring how he'll "bounce back" ahead of the Yankees' exhibitions in Mexico City. For now, he's feeling good, but any uncertainty in the Yankees' five-man rotation (which kinda doesn't extend beyond a solid five) is music to Scott Boras' slimy ears.

Yankees starter Nestor Cortes Jr. is over the injury hump now...right?

The Yankees have repeatedly reiterated that they moved past both Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery when both pitchers refused to lower their asking price, resulting in a Marcus Stroman signing instead. Montgomery might've made the decision to move on before the Yankees could, sure, but Snell was a genuine possibility ... but not at prices exceeding $200 million.

Though those new rumors ...

Now, with Snell's market remaining dryer than the desert (Mariners? Angels, who won't raise payroll?), Boras has to be reconsidering his posture and dreaming of flagging the Yankees (and other big-market teams) down the second they report any rotation uncertainty. Cortes' comments, while not overwhelmingly negative, would certainly qualify as uncertainty. If neither party is 100% sure the left-hander will be available for Opening Day, the Yankees must strike now on adding a bonafide starter. Odds are, though, the arm will come via trade rather than paying a doubling tax on a short-term Snell deal.

The good news for the Yankees is that whatever aid their training staff was able to provide seems to have resulted in added comfort. Cortes reported "zero" soreness between his recent throwing sessions, and his fastball velocity is where it needs to be this early in camp.

Any injury iffiness from Cortes sounds sickening to fans at this point, especially after the team chose to count on the left-hander rather than target Corbin Burnes or one of free agency's biggest fish.

Cortes' peak will be perfect for this team in a No. 4 role, but the Yankees simply cannot rest on their laurels (Cody Poteet?) if he's not ready to recover, rock and fire. Guess they can't mute Boras' texts until Juan Soto Season next winter after all.