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Pirates coaches still learning about Cole

| Sunday, June 9, 2013, 10:54 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole delivers during an intrasquad game Friday, Feb. 22, 2013, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.

CHICAGO — The Pirates' coaching staff is familiar with pitcher Gerrit Cole after working with him in spring training. But with Cole set to make his big league debut Tuesday, there still are things the coaches need to learn.

“The foundation is in place. We'll see where it goes,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “You just talk to people — engage, look him in the eye and talk to him. Not small talk. Not, ‘How ya doing?' and not waiting for an answer. It will be interesting to get his feedback.”

Cole will report to PNC Park on Monday to get settled and reacquainted with the coaches; it's an off day for the team. Pitching coach Ray Searage plans to call Triple-A Indianapolis pitching coach Tom Filer.

“I'll talk to Tommy and ask if (Cole) is a guy you can converse with during the middle innings of a game, during the down time, or if he's a guy you have to stay away from and let him be in his own little world,” Searage said.

Some of the responsibility for keeping Cole's emotions in check will fall on catchers Russell Martin and Michael McKenry.

“He's going to be geeked. There's no way around it,” Searage said. “You try to keep both his feet on the ground. That's where Martin or McKenry, whichever is behind the dish, will help out.”

For a newbie, there's a fine line between enjoying the debut experience and having it be overwhelming. Hurdle, who played in his first major league game not long after graduating from high school, said he believes Cole, 22, can handle it.

“I was 20,” Hurdle said. “Gerrit's been to college. He's got a little more experience. He's in a much better place than I was. This isn't a high school kid coming up.”

As he did at Indy, Cole will wear No. 45 with the Pirates.

During his radio show Sunday, general manager Neal Huntington said the front office ideally would have liked Cole to remain at Indy a while longer. But the move was forced by injuries to Wandy Rodriguez, Jeanmar Gomez, Jeff Karstens and James McDonald.

“This probably is a little early (for a callup),” Huntington said. “There are still things he needs to work on. The worst reason you can have for bringing a prospect to the majors is need. We've been able to avoid that until now.”

Huntington indicated it's still undetermined whether this is a spot start or if Cole will remain in the Pirates' rotation the rest of the season.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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