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Pirates notebook: Hurdle says Cole responding well to rehab starts

| Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014, 9:45 p.m.

The Pirates felt like the sky was falling upon them Tuesday.

Not only did they disclose reigning MVP Andrew McCutchen's rib injury, but rehabbing starter Gerrit Cole — on the DL with a lat strain — acknowledged to the Tribune-Review that his shoulder and arm did not respond well following his first rehab start July 28. Cole described the day after as “brutal.” His second rehab start was pushed back from Saturday to Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the Pirates got some better news. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said he spoke with Cole on Wednesday and said Cole responded well to his second rehab outing.

Cole will throw a bullpen session Thursday and a third rehab start on a date to be determined.

“He feels good,” Hurdle said. “He wanted to let me know he felt he was in a good place.”

Cole allowed 10 hits and five runs in 4 13 innings Tuesday at Indianapolis. His radar gun readings raised red flags as his fastball dropped from 95-96 mph in the first three innings to 91-92 mph in the fourth inning. Hurdle said not to read too much into the results. Cole said the velocity drop was by design.

“It was a geared-down game for him,” Hurdle said. “We gave him a couple goals going in. We wanted him to repeat his delivery and maintain arm slot. … The bigger picture is we need to put this stuff in place this time out and not be reactionary to what results we might not get.”

Cole has not pitched in a major league game since July 4. He also made a trip to the DL with shoulder fatigue in June.

McCutchen still idle

Andrew McCutchen provided a bit of a tease Wednesday as he sat at his locker with a bat in his hands, the wrap that had encased his abdomen a day earlier was no longer present.

“I just have a bat in my hands,” McCutchen said.

McCutchen (ribs) was asked if he noticed improvement.

“It's not like I can really pinpoint if I'm better because I'm not doing anything physical,” McCutchen said. “Everyday stuff? I'm fine. No problems at all.”

Morris excelling with Marlins

Former Pirates reliever Bryan Morris would look good in the Pirates' embattled bullpen.

Morris posted a 0.29 ERA in 31 13 innings entering Wednesday since the Pirates traded Morris to Miami earlier this season for the 39th overall pick in the draft. What's changed for Morris? Not much.

“Pitch usage isn't much different. There are times when I use the fastball more over here, but it's pretty much the same,” Morris said.

Morris said he has not made any mechanical changes. He had a 3.80 ERA the first two months of the year with the Pirates.

“(Mechanics) are the same. It was just one of those stretches (in Pittsburgh) where I didn't have much rhythm,” Morris said. “Even when I missed the barrel, they were still finding holes. The results were worse than how I felt like I pitched.”

Walker out

Pirates second baseman Neil Walker (back) was held out of the lineup after leaving Tuesday's game in the eighth inning with back discomfort.

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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