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Gerrit Cole will relish chance to repeat as Cy Young winner: Ron Guidry

TAMPA — Ron Guidry has stepped into the shoes that current unanimous Cy Young Award winner Gerrit Cole is preparing to wear.

That means the former Yankees ace knows what the current Yankees ace is looking for.

“Everybody’s going to be targeting you next game, because you’re promoted and you’re the best,” Guidry said Friday at Steinbrenner Field before Cole made his Grapefruit League debut against the Blue Jays. ” he said.

“Every team wants to beat you now. Every hitter wants to get a hit. Everybody just wants to beat you. It’s hard to beat those guys. … Just because you’ve had a great, great year doesn’t mean next year won’t be good, too. Someone else might have a great year, so it’ll be hard to emulate what you did. But, It doesn’t take away from who you are. You still have to go out every five days and do the work you have to do.”

Ron Guidry speaks to the media at New York Yankees Old Timers Day. Corey Shipkin of the New York Post

Guidry had little trouble starting his Cy Young year, dealing with everyone’s best shots.

Although his ERA increased over a full run, it was still only 2.78 in 1979 when rotation mate Tommy John finished third behind the Orioles’ Mike Flanagan in Cy Young voting.

The Yankees would sign on to that scenario if it meant that Cole would get more help from the rotation than he did last year, when the rotational axis nearly collapsed.

But Guidry expects Cole to relish the opportunity to have every team and hitter targeting him.

“He doesn’t hold back from anyone. [is what] No. 1 should do it,” Guidry said. “You only pitch better when you play against the best players.”

Not only has Cole broken several of Guidry’s Yankees records in recent years, but the two have developed a strong relationship, one that renews each spring training session when Guidry serves as a guest instructor.

Cole finally won his first career Cy Young Award in November, becoming the second Yankee to win it unanimously, joining Guidry, and called it “deserved.”

He praised Guidry for helping him “get used to the pressure, the role, the organization, and the style of pitching to maximize his contribution to the team.”

New York Yankees starting pitcher Gerrit Cole pitches against the Toronto Blue Jays. Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Guidry appreciates that Cole is a mix of old school and new school.

“He works hard to perfect what he does on the mound,” Guidry said. “He took all the analytical stuff and combined it with a little bit of an old-school style of pitching. He understands that analytically there’s a lot of stuff that comes with it, but there’s also the experience part. Because if you can’t do what you want to do on a baseball mound, analytics are useless. I think he understands that. I think he proved that to himself last year. Don’t worry about all that analytics. Instead, we need to consider a little bit of both.”

It’s a formula Cole will continue to strive to take advantage of this season as he continues to evolve as a pitcher.

Even before he took home the Cy Young Award, he was always trying to add another inch whenever possible, continually making adjustments, and trying to stay ahead of the curve.

Gerrit Cole hopes to continue in the same role as Cy Young in the AL. Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

As a result, Cole achieved overwhelming results last year with 222 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.63 in 209 innings.

Now he will be tasked with finding a way to surpass it.

“I got to see a lot of great pitchers do their thing here,” Guidry said, citing Andy Petite, Mariano Rivera, David Cone and CC Sabathia. “When you have guys like Sabathia and Pettitte, they’re left-handed, so naturally and usually they’re going to go talk to left-handed pitchers.” [like Guidry] Someone who’s done it before. So it was always fun.

“Even though Gerrit is right-handed, it’s fun to talk to him because he understands. I think it’s a combination of being present.”

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