Yankees ace Gerrit Cole gets great news from Dr. Neal ElAttrache's final elbow exam

New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays
New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays / Cole Burston/GettyImages

Hey, real quick, is it a good thing for a fan's mental health if they know the name of the top elbow surgeon in the country from memory?

This time, said memorization had a rare positive conclusion. Yankees ace Gerrit Cole flew across the country to Los Angeles on Wednesday, following a battery of tests on the east coast performed on his balky elbow. Once he landed, he was harassed by a cameraman, then slid into hiding until the end of his meeting with Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Thursday afternoon, baseball's foremost Tommy John surgeon (shoutout to Dr. James Andrews, the expert emeritus, though).

Dr. ElAttrache examined Cole's scans from afar, but determined that even though the Yankees' doctors couldn't spot a UCL tear, he wanted to provide a sense of finality with an in-person visit. That resulted in a few preemptive victory laps, an awful lot of pacing, and some late-night Twitter notification attentiveness.

And it paid off! Though the good doctor was probably pretty enthusiastic about the potential of getting another surgery on the books, he ultimately determined that the Yankees' examination was correct. Cole can try an aggressive bout of rest and rehab, and should be back in 1-to-2 months, if all goes well (or, perhaps, only slightly longer if it doesn't).

Yankees ace Gerrit Cole doesn't need Tommy John surgery, per Dr. Neal ElAttrache

Now, who fills Cole's Opening Day role? That ... has yet to be determined. Marcus Stroman wants to remain on his current routine -- and, for what it's worth, probably wants to stay lined up to face the Toronto Blue Jays in the Yankee Stadium home opener. He won't be filling the role. Neither will Carlos Rodón, likely a smart move by Aaron Boone, especially for mental health purposes.

Hopefully, whoever steps in won't be a permanent replacement; it seems likely that the Yankees dodged a season-ending katana here.

Cole opted for MRIs, X-Rays and scans after initially resisting, battling an inability to recover between stunted starts and bullpen sessions. It wasn't shocking that the Yankees' ace, one of the most meticulous pitchers in the game, agreed with experts that as many examinations as possible were necessary before he could chart a recovery course.

And now, past 10:00 PM on the east coast? It's time to track that airport camerman down once again. Cole will embark on a regimen that includes experimental treatments, prescribed rest, and zero knives. Knowing the Yankees' Cy Young, he'll strive to be back on the mound sooner than most believe. In the meantime, he'll be an unparalleled pitching coach, stepping into an advisory role as Andy Pettitte's right-hand man. Cody Poteet and Luke Weaver are in for a masterclass.

Crucially, though, whenever he does return, he'll be the ace once again, without a copilot. Blake Snell's not walking through that door. Free agency has ended for these well-taxed Yankees This season is his -- and, amid a wave of exhales, it didn't evaporate on Thursday night.