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Pirates

Pirates notebook: Cole says throwing session goes 'really well'

| Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016, 6:27 p.m.
Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole delivers during the sixth inning against the Mariners on Wednesday, July 27, 2016, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole delivers during the sixth inning against the Mariners on Wednesday, July 27, 2016, at PNC Park.

Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole said Saturday he's running out of possible starts as his team attempts to make a push for one of two National League wild-card spots.

On Saturday, he took a step toward making a September return. Cole, who was placed on the disabled list Aug. 30 with right elbow inflammation, threw 30 pitches — all fastballs — from a mound. It was Cole's first time pitching off a mound since Aug. 24 against Houston, his most recent start.

“It went really well. I felt pretty good,” Cole said. “I'm just going to keep trying to work hard.”

Cole said his plan is to get to PNC Park early Sunday for some light throwing before throwing another side bullpen session Monday or Tuesday.

In five August starts, Cole posted a 6.08 ERA. Opponents hit .353 with a .953 on-base-plus-slugging percentage against him. He allowed 12 hits in back-to-back starts against the Dodgers (Aug. 13) and Marlins (Aug. 19).

Cole made just two starts in June as he dealt with a right-triceps strain. He was behind schedule in spring training because of right rib inflammation, a preseason injury that prevented the right-hander from making his first start until April 9.

Cole's placement on the disabled list was retroactive to Aug. 25, meaning the earliest he is able to rejoin the active roster is Friday.

“I'm not concerned,” Cole said of his Saturday bullpen work. “I was pleased with the work today, though. I thought it was good.”

Cervelli prefers no rest

Saturday's game against the Brewers marked catcher Francisco Cervelli's sixth straight start behind the plate — the Pirates had an off day Thursday — and his 11th in the past 12 games.

Cervelli missed more than a month with a broken hamate bone in his left hand between mid-June and mid-July, so his total workload won't come close to his career high of 130 games from 2015. Still, manager Clint Hurdle said Saturday the Pirates will continue to check in on and monitor Cervelli down the stretch.

“We won't overuse him. But we're gonna use him as long as he feels ready to go and post up and grade out well and show that there's no fatigue in play,” Hurdle said. “So he's adamant about the games that he's already missed that he doesn't want to miss a whole lot more. We'll see how that plays out.”

Cervelli entered Saturday's game hitting .262 with a .672 OPS. He hit .284 with four extra-base hits and five RBIs in 67 August at-bats.

The addition of Chris Stewart on Friday to the active roster means the Pirates have three catching options among Cervelli, Stewart and Eric Fryer. Asked about his conversations regarding rest with Cervelli, Hurdle said the catcher's preferences on the subject have been made clear.

“He keeps telling me that's what the offseason's for,” Hurdle said.

Cervelli did not register an at-bat Saturday. In four plate appearances, he walked three times and was hit by pitch in the eighth inning. He later scored on a John Jaso single.

Flashback to 1971

The Pirates uniforms were a different hue Saturday — a white pullover with a mustard gold hat — to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the 1971 World Series championship.

Prior to the start of Saturday's game, the Pirates had an on-field ceremony honoring the 1971 team. In attendance were Gene Alley, Steve Blass, Gene Clines, Dave Giusti, Jackie Hernandez, Bob Johnson, Bruce Kison, Don Leppert, Milt May, Bill Mazeroski, Al Oliver, Bob Robertson, Manny Sanguillen, Rennie Stennett and Bill Virdon as well as family members of Nellie Briles, Roberto Clemente, Danny Murtaugh and Willie Stargell.

“It's always good when we rekindle our history and our tradition. Usually these guys are excited to be back. They get embraced by the fans, the players,” Hurdle said of past Pirates' World Series teams. “They usually come in with their own set of questions, too, about what's going on here and how we're doing. It's never not good when they show up.”

Mazeroski, who turns 80 on Monday, threw out the ceremonial first pitch to his grandson, Billy.

Andrew Erickson is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at aerickson@tribweb.com or via Twitter @AErickson_Trib.

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