Pirates notebook: Cole using spring training to get 'feel back'

Rob Biertempfel
| Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, 6:15 p.m.

DUNEDIN, Fla. — For Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole, his first outing of spring training was about getting comfortable.

Cole pitched two innings Friday in a 4-2 loss against the Toronto Blue Jays. He allowed two runs on three hits in the first, then tossed a 1-2-3 second frame.

“This one was about timing and getting the feel back for everything,” Cole said.

This spring is different for Cole in that he knows he'll break camp with the big league team. But his preparation process remains the same.

“Work fast, keep balls down in the zone, and build arm strength,” Cole said. “Hopefully that feel (for pitches) comes back by April.”

Cole is using his full arsenal, although the bulk of his offerings are fastballs. He threw more four-seamers in the second inning, when he blew called third strikes past Dan Johnson and Ryan Goins.

Speed bump

Jameson Taillon gave up a one-out single in the third inning, but in a way it was a good thing. With speedy Munenori Kawasaki at first base, Taillon got to work on controlling the running game — one of his top priorities this spring.

“Runners have taken advantage of me in the minors,” Taillon said. “That's one of the last things I have to take care of (before reaching the majors). I'll never be a one (second) flat to the plate. But if I can hold the ball and mix my looks (to first base), mix in a quick step here and there and show a good pick move, I think that's the package I need.”

Injury report

Travis Snider hasn't played in a spring game, but manager Clint Hurdle indicated Snider might be used as the designated hitter Sunday against the Philadelphia Phillies. Snider is being brought along slowly after having offseason foot surgery and slicing his finger in a sweet potato-chopping accident before camp opened. ... Righty Phil Irwin was scratched from the list of scheduled pitchers Friday. Without elaborating, Hurdle said he's awaiting an update on Irwin's status. ... Josh Harrison had a large ice pack strapped to his shoulder Friday morning but said it was due only to minor soreness. ... Travis Ishikawa, who has been out with a sore right hamstring, tentatively is scheduled as a bench player for Saturday's game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Around the horn

Clint Barmes played five innings at shortstop, his usual position, against the Toronto Blue Jays. On Saturday, he is slated to start at second base. “He's going to be moving around in that utility middle position,” Hurdle said. ... Pirate City will be one of four regional host sites in July for the annual MLB/USA Baseball Breakthrough Series, which gives top high school players exposure to college recruiters and pro scouts.

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

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