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Pirates

Pirates notebook: Cole mentioned 'discomfort' after recent start

| Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016, 1:38 p.m.
Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole labors through the fifth inning against the Astros on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole labors through the fifth inning against the Astros on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016, at PNC Park.
Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole throws during the first inning against the Astros on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole throws during the first inning against the Astros on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016, at PNC Park.

MILWAUKEE — Gerrit Cole ran sprints on the field before Sunday's game, a final workout before he flew to Los Angeles to have his sore elbow examined on Monday by orthopedic specialist Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

A group of reporters waited for Cole in the visiting dugout at Miller Park, but Cole did not break stride.

“I'm going to wait to comment until after the doctor's visit,” Cole said as he walked into the clubhouse.

General manager Neal Huntington said Cole complained of “discomfort” on the outside of his elbow after his last start. Last Wednesday, Cole gave up five runs in five innings and took the loss against the Houston Astros.

The culprit for Cole's recent poor performance — he's 0-3 with a 7.06 ERA over his past four starts — might be a bone spur. Sources told the Tribune-Review that an MRI issued by the Pirates did not reveal any ligament damage.

Huntington said it's too soon to say whether Cole will wind up on the disabled list. With rosters allowed to expand Thursday, the DL probably will be an option only if Cole is disabled for 60 days, which would open a spot on the 40-man roster.

Schugel returns

Reliever A.J. Schugel was called up from Triple-A Indianapolis. To open a spot on the active roster, utilityman Adam Frazier was optioned to rookie-level Bristol.

Frazier will be recalled when Bristol's season ends Thursday.

In previous years, a pitcher such as Jameson Taillon (who started Saturday) would have been optioned as a paper transaction and simply would've stayed with the Pirates until his recall date.

“MLB has become adamant that guys have to report (to the minors),” Huntington said. “The goal was to keep Jameson on routine. If we optioned Jameson, he could no longer stay with the team. He couldn't have thrown his side (session), his in-between work, his recovery work.”

Brault en route to Chicago

The Pirates will make another roster move Monday when Steven Brault is brought up from Indy to take Cole's turn in the rotation against the Chicago Cubs.

On Thursday, Brault worked just two innings against Louisville and gave up three runs on three hits. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said the outing was designed to be brief in case Cole's condition did not improve.

“(Brault) wasn't pulled for ineffectiveness,” Hurdle said. “We just wanted a tune-up.”

Glasnow on mend

Huntington and his lieutenants are mulling the next step for Tyler Glasnow, who made an abbreviated rehab start Saturday with Indy. Glasnow worked just three innings, gave up three hits and three walks, and struck out three.

“He threw the ball healthy. He just wasn't efficient,” Huntington said. “Our staff decided it was best to cut him off. He had two real high-stress innings in the second and third. Loaded the bases with nobody out, pop-out, punch-out, punch-out. He got out of them, which is encouraging.”

Mercer as good as gold?

Shortstop Jordy Mercer made three fine defensive plays on Saturday, including a barehanded grab and throw to record the game's final out. The Brewers challenged the call, but it stood after a replay review.

“The only play I had was to barehand it and get rid of it,” Mercer said. “I knew it was going to be close. But the more we watched the replay, the more we thought he was going to be out.”

The highlight reel stuff is good, but Hurdle is more appreciative of Mercer's overall consistency.

“There's no bling,” Hurdle said. “There's nothing flashy that catches your eye. He shows up. You talk about a guy who epitomizes the city he plays in. He punches the clock.”

Mercer is tied with Asdrubal Cabrera of the New York Mets for second among National League shortstops with a .986 fielding percentage. The leader is Philadelphia's Freddy Galvis (.988).

“I think (Mercer) is a Gold Glove shortstop,” Hurdle said. “I get to see him every day. Sometimes, the Gold Glove is attached to the bat. He's made progress there this year. All I know is, if (Gold Glove voters) got to see him every day, they'd love him as much as we do.”

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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