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Pirates notebook: Cole passes test; Davis trade completed

| Sunday, June 15, 2014, 12:42 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole delivers to the plate during the first inning against the Cardinals Friday, April 4, 2014, at PNC Park.

MIAMI — Clint Hurdle said Sunday's bullpen session represented a “big day” for right-hander Gerrit Cole, meaning Cole had to throw well — and without discomfort in his fatigued shoulder — if he was to return to the starting rotation.

By all accounts, Sunday was a big day and a good day for Cole soon.

Cole threw all of his pitches in a 34-pitch bullpen session at Marlins Park. Cole said his shoulder felt “good” afterward and was generally pleased with the execution of his pitches. Cole is eligible to come off the disabled list Thursday.

“A little rusty on timing,” Cole said of the throwing session. “The ball was up, but it was defined. It was good. It felt like a normal midweek 'pen.”

Hurdle said pitching coach Ray Searage, who observed the session, and Cole were “pleased with the volume of work.”

How does the shoulder feel?

“Better,” Cole said. “It didn't feel bad last time. It felt good. It feels good again.”

The next step for Cole will be to throw a simulated game in Pittsburgh after the team's off day Monday. Hurdle said Cole could return from the disabled list during the team's next road trip, which includes trips to Wrigley Field and Tampa Bay.

Cole said his next big day is Monday.

“You can tell on the recovery end,” Cole said. “It's usually the following day that tells you how good you felt the day before. (Monday) will be a big day.”

Davis trade complete

The Pirates announced Sunday the player to be named in the Ike Davis trade is left-handed pitcher Blake Taylor, a second-round pick from the 2013 draft.

Taylor was selected from the high school ranks and has not pitched in 2014. He limited Gulf Coast League batters to seven hits in 21 innings last season.

Players cannot be traded until a year after signing a professional contract. Right-handed pitcher Zack Thornton was also traded to the Mets as part of the Davis deal in late April.

Taylor is a relatively polished prospect who has three pitches.

Walker could swing Tuesday

Pirates second baseman Neil Walker (appendectomy) heightened his running workouts Sunday at Marlins Park after doing some light running Saturday, just six days after surgery.

“Hopefully, by Tuesday, he is going to swing his own bat a little bit and maybe play some catch,” Hurdle said.

Josh Harrison played second base Sunday.

Walker has been one of the Pirates' more consistent offensive performers, yet without him the club tallied a 17-hit game Friday and a season-best 18-hit performance Saturday.

When Walker returns, the Pirates could have their deepest lineup in recent memory.

Liriano update

Hurdle said Francisco Liriano (oblique) could begin light throwing Tuesday in Pittsburgh. Liriano has been limited to cardio work.

Hurdle said the mental break might be as important as the physical break for Liriano, who struggled with consistency prior to his injury.

“We're going to be very open-minded with his return,” Hurdle said. “No. 1, we have to get him to the point where he can throw the ball without any discomfort, and I think it's actually good for him right now to unplug, mentally.”

Liriano is expected to miss at least a month because of the injury.

Pepper games

To make room for Vance Worley on the 25-man roster, the Pirates optioned Michael Martinez to Triple-A before Sunday's game. The Pirates had an empty 40-man roster spot to accommodate Worley. … Andrew McCutchen is playing like a player of the month. In June, McCutchen has posted a .415 average, a .483 on-base mark and a .981 slugging percentage. He leads the majors with 17 extra-base hits this month and has seven home runs.

Travis Sawchik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at tsawchik@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Sawchik_Trib.

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