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Pirates owner Nutting: Cole decision won't be based on money

| Tuesday, June 25, 2013, 10:03 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole throws a 96 mph fastball, the first pitch of his MLB career, against the Giants on Tuesday, June 11, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates chairman of the board Bob Nutting stands near the team logo before the home opener against the Cubs on Monday, April 1, 2013, at PNC Park.

Pirates owner Bob Nutting was adamant that any decision general manager Neal Huntington makes about prized pitcher Gerrit Cole's future will not be based on money.

“I'm like any fan in the ballpark,” Nutting said Tuesday. “I love watching Gerrit pitch. It's been remarkable what he's been able to do. And I really do believe that these decisions have to be based on when the player is ready, what are the needs of the team. It's not any arbitrary timeline or deadline. These are decisions based on baseball and on having the team execute at the highest possible level.”

Cole, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft, is off to a 3-0 start with a 3.44 ERA, but Huntington has strongly suggested in recent days that Cole might be returned to the minors once A.J. Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez rejoin the rotation.

That's led to a public outcry that the Pirates' primary purpose for demoting Cole would be to save money. If Cole gets enough major league service time in 2013, he could be eligible for Super 2 status that grants players an extra year of arbitration eligibility. That would cost the Pirates millions of dollars down the road.

Huntington has denied Super 2 would be a variable, and Nutting backed that.

“We've been criticized for rushing players, and we've been criticized for bringing players up too slowly,” Nutting said. “I recognize that there's never a perfect time. But what was critical for Gerrit was that he was ready to perform when he came to Pittsburgh. He's been given an opportunity. And frankly, I think it's pretty exciting that we're in a position that this kind of a decision has to be made because of how well our pitchers have pitched. We have some really challenging decisions.”

The Pirates have said Cole is set to make his next scheduled start, Friday at PNC Park against Milwaukee.

Dejan Kovacevic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at dkovacevic@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Dejan_Kovacevic.

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