Gerrit Cole takes shot at Pirates during introduction with Astros
Gerrit Cole didn't show any nostalgia for the Pirates on Wednesday when he was introduced for the first time as a member of the Houston Astros .
The Pirates traded Cole, their 2017 opening day starter, to Houston on Saturday.
"I'm tremendously excited," Cole said. "How do you ask for anything more than to be coming to the (defending) world champions?"
Last season, Cole went 12-12 with a career-worst 4.26 ERA. He led the National League in starts (33) but also served up the second-most home runs (31) in the league.
"It boils down to command (and) executing pitches," Cole said. "There are a lot of contributing factors. I'm just going to trust what I do, continue to use the resources around me and soak up as much as I can from the veterans on this team. I'm looking forward to working with (catcher) Brian McCann."
Cole also said he's willing to take "a new approach" on the mound after working the past five years with Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage.
"I know there are some things the Astros do that are different," Cole said. "I'm looking forward to hearing those things, and hopefully, getting a lot better."
Cole is eager to take notes from Justin Verlander, a 13-year veteran who is one of the game's premier power-throwing right-handers.
"I love the mindset that he wants to learn," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "It's refreshing for me, and it makes me happy. I think there'll be some good competitive fire among our pitching staff."
The Astros tried to trade for Cole last July. When those talks stalled, they sent three of their top 11 prospects to the Detroit Tigers for Verlander.
The Pirates got four players in exchange for Cole. The Astros gave up big league reliever Michael Feliz, swingman Joe Musgrove, third baseman Colin Moran and minor league outfielder Jason Martin. Moran was rated Houston's eight-best prospect.
Cole was aware the Astros targeted him last summer and is eager to get going with his new club.
"Obviously, the organization values me very high, and that always feels good as a player," Cole said. "And it's refreshing to come to an environment where the team is willing to continually put resources into the club and continue to move forward and try to provide the best possible product for its fans."
Until he someday gets to face his old club on the field, that will have to serve as Cole's parting shot at the Pirates.
Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.