| Sports

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Pirates notebook: Analyst predicts big things from Cole

Pirates/MLB Videos

Thursday, March 27, 2014, 5:57 p.m.

BRADENTON, Fla. — Will there be a sophomore slump this year for Pirates righty Gerrit Cole? MLB Network analyst Al Leiter doesn't believe so.

“I don't think that's even relevant,” said Leiter, who pitched 19 seasons in the majors. “He's got great stuff, presence, poise, size — all of the stuff you look for.”

As a rookie last year, Cole went 10-7 with a 3.22 ERA. He'll start the season in the No. 4 spot in the rotation, but Leiter expects him to quickly develop into the ace of the staff.

“Cole's a (first-round) pick, cruised through the minor leagues. There's pressure with that,” Leiter said. “He gets to the big leagues, everything is faster and cooler, and he has success. Do you think he'll say, ‘Oh, no! Holy (moley), now they're counting on me.' That's (hogwash). All he's got to do is be prepared and execute quality pitches consistently. I think Gerrit's going to have a hell of a year.”

Roster moves

Right-hander Brandon Cumpton was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. The move is another indication lefty Francisco Liriano (groin) will avoid the disabled list and will be the Opening Day starter.

Pitcher Kyle McPherson and catcher Nevin Ashley were reassigned to minor league camp. The Pirates have 28 players left in camp and must get down to 25 by 3 p.m. Sunday. Catcher Chris Stewart (knee surgery) will begin the season on the DL.

The Pirates acquired outfielder Keon Broxton from the Arizona Diamondbacks for a player to be named later and assigned him to Double-A Altoona. Broxton, 23, was a third-round pick in 2009.

Last year, he batted .231 with a .655 on-base plus slugging percentage at Double-A Mobile.

Broxton has hit 50 home runs in 566 minor league games. He can play all three outfield spots but mostly has been used in center.

Alvarez gets break

Third baseman Pedro Alvarez did not play in the final two Grapefruit League games. “He was getting a break,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “He'll be ready to go (Monday).” Alvarez appeared in 16 games and batted .277 with two homers, six RBIs and an .838 OPS.

Filling the seats

The Pirates set franchise records for average attendance (7,587) and single-game attendance (8,566 on March 22 vs. Philadelphia) at McKechnie Field. Total home attendance this spring was 91,046. The Pirates have played at McKechnie Field since 1969.

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

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.




Show commenting policy

Most-Read Pirates

  1. Pirates again approach Polanco about contract extension
  2. Reliever Holdzkom among three players cut by Pirates
  3. Reversing the field: Pirates continue to raid Yankees for hidden skill
  4. Steelers’ Tomlin, Pirates’ Hurdle share similar philosophy
  5. Pirates notebook: Locke the choice to be 5th starter
  6. Spring training breakdown: Pirates 18, Phillies 4
  7. Pirates’ outfield may have few defensive peers
  8. Pirates notebook: Locke makes bid for final rotation spot, Tabata cut
  9. Alvarez latest in Pirates’ revolving door at first base
  10. About face: Pirates’ Burnett now digging the shifts
  11. Starting 9: As franchise values soar, do owners hold or sell?