After starting the 2023 season on a slight delay and skipping the World Baseball Classic, Nestor Cortes got right back into his 2022 groove, taking aim at the Orioles (as per usual) in his second outing of the season.
It went smoothly, despite Baltimore's attempts to muddy the waters with the umpire. Or did the umpire act alone? Either way, somebody tried to harsh Cortes' mellow, and while he shrugged it off in the moment, he was less pleased in the postgame locker room.
After the first inning, the umps ordered Cortes to color in the white No. 44 on the back of his glove, deeming it a distracting violation of code. Per the letter of the law, whoever complained was technically right, but ... Cortes throws with this glove constantly. Either way, this created the first blacked-out 44 in the Yankees locker room since Reggie Jackson took a swing at Billy Martin.
If this was a trick to get him off his game, it did not work; he allowed just two runs, both of which were surrendered by Albert Abreu, who relieved him.
Following the conclusion of the game -- a 5-3 Yankees win -- Cortes was asked about the sudden onset of an issue with his glove, the same model he's used since 2017. He said it didn't bother him.
It angered him, but it didn't bother him.
Yankees Nestor Cortes: It's all good they took my glove, but it also pissed me off.
According to Cortes, he believes it was all umpire Bill Miller (though Anthony Santander and the Orioles were probably excited to put some cracks in the left-hander's armor).
And, according to Cortes' left arm, the distraction had no ill effect. Dominance of the Orioles was par for the course for Cortes on Masters Sunday. Career against the O's -- one of the teams that gave up on him between Yankees stints -- he's 4-0 with a 1.37 ERA, with 56 Ks and only 29 hits allowed in 39.1 innings.
Actually, taking the numbers into context, yesterday's near-shutout was one of his worst-ever results against Baltimore. Blame it on the glove, we guess.