Pirates notebook: Cole struts stuff, but can he stick?
BRADENTON, Fla. — Gerrit Cole will face far greater challenges in his career than the lineup of Spain's World Baseball Classic entry, which probably matched up at a Double-A level. But the Pirates' top prospect seemed to take it seriously, anyway.
He struck out the first six batters he faced.
He struck out the first two on seven pitches.
He struck out the third with a fastball so overwhelming that Rafael Alvarez's bat wound up in the seats.
In all, Cole tossed three scoreless innings with two singles and a walk in the 10-0 shutout of Spain on Tuesday at McKechnie Field.
Something to prove?
“I just treated it like every other start, tried to nail the delivery in the bullpen and take it out to the game,” Cole said. “I wanted to be aggressive.”
To this point in the spring, Cole has been charged with one run and has seven strikeouts over five innings. But it would appear he's just warming up. In his first outing Feb. 27, radar guns tapped his fastball at 91 mph to 92 mph. On Tuesday, it was 94 mph to 97 mph, closer to the norm.
Cole, of course, is capable of triple-digits.
“He went out there with a purpose and intent,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “I loved the pace and rhythm. I loved the downhill angle of the fastball, the low strikes, the breaking ball was sharp. ... It was a very good day for Cole.”
The question is, will it matter?
Cole was told entering spring training that he was in the rotation mix, but nothing the Pirates have said publicly supports that. Earlier this week, pitching coach Ray Searage cited four others — Jonathan Sanchez, Jeanmar Gomez, Kyle McPherson and Jeff Locke — as the candidates for the final opening.
“They haven't told me I'm out,” Cole said. “I'm still here. As long as I'm still here, I feel like I've got a chance.”
Asked what Cole needs to do the rest of this spring, Hurdle replied simply: “He needs to go pitch. That's all.”
Gaby gone wild
Gaby Sanchez's encouraging spring continued with a home run hit so far it might have made it all the way to Madrid. It came in the fifth inning, and it cleared the new grandstand high above left field, roof and all.
“They ever find it?” Sanchez asked afterward.
Not in the bleachers.
Sanchez is 5 for 13 in Grapefruit League action, with two home runs and a double. He keeps crediting his surge on the renewed health of his right knee.
“It just feels like things are back to normal more than anything.”
Sanchez played third base again, part of the Pirates' plan to expand his defensive options. But he did so while Cole was dealing. Not one ball came his way.
Or any way, most of the time.
“I might as well have been out there with my arms folded,” Sanchez said. “The kid's good.”
Jeff Karstens (shoulder) pitched a two-inning live batting practice Tuesday and said afterward he expects to be ready for the start of the season. He'll need another live BP before pitching in a spring game.
Russell Martin (shoulder) could “probably” resume catching as soon as Saturday, Hurdle said.
Dejan Kovacevic is a sports columnist for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @Dejan_Kovacevic.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates notebook: Phillies’ Burnett not demanding trade
- Selig: Pirates’ rebirth a positive step for baseball
- Wednesday’s scouting report: Dodgers at Pirates
- Rossi: Liriano no ace, but he’s Bucs’ key
- Outfielder Polanco driving force for Pirates in victory over Dodgers
- Pirates notebook: Polanco, Puig held out of series opener
- Biertempfel: One man’s cause to canonize Roberto Clemente
- Tuesday’s scouting report: Dodgers at Pirates
- Pirates notebook: Bucs to target pitching on trade market
- Pirates notebook: Pirates recall Decker, send Cumpton back to Indy
- Pirates notebook: Huntington staying patient as trade deadline approaches