Pirates notebook: Cole nearing return to rotation

PIRATES NOTEBOOK

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Gerrit Cole threw a bullpen session Thursday and reported no pain or tightness in the right latissimus dorsi muscle in his back that sent him to the 15-day disabled list.

"We're on track for another full side [bullpen session] in a couple days," Cole said Friday. "I feel healthy. It's about getting back into shape at this point, I think."

Cole went on the DL July 9, retroactive to July 5, because of pain and tightness in the lat. He left his start July 4 after five innings.

"[Pitching coach] Ray [Searage] said it went very well," manager Clint Hurdle said of the bullpen session. "It was fastball-changeup, it was 30 pitches. So after he settles down we'll revisit and plan the next step."

Cole said he was not feeling any pain when he threw. He went through soft-tissue treatment in addition to rest, which helped relieve the pain and tightness. He also stretched a lot.

"Trying to get the muscles to fire right, I guess," Cole said. "It was a mess in there for a little bit. The few days and the treatment has helped a lot."

Left-handed run

Beginning Friday night with Colorado Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa, the Pirates are scheduled to face four consecutive left-handed starters and six in their next eight games.

"It'll give our guys a chance to see some consistent left-handed pitching, which we've not seen in two years," Hurdle said.

The Pirates have faced only 12 left-handed starters this season and the fewest left-handed starters of any team in baseball since the beginning of the 2013 season.

The left-handers could give Gaby Sanchez and Josh Harrison some playing time if Hurdle chooses to sit Pedro Alvarez, Gregory Polanco or Ike Davis. Sanchez started Friday night, but Harrison had the night off as Hurdle allowed him to rest after the whirlwind that was his first All-Star Game appearance.

Rockies manager Walt Weiss said he did the same thing with outfielder Charlie Blackmon.

"With four days off, you hate to sit either one of the lefties, Polanco and Alvarez, for any significant amount of time, just to see what you got," Hurdle said.

Rockies pitching hurting

The Rockies rotation has a 5.33 ERA, last in the National League by almost a run. They rank last in strikeouts per nine innings, walks per nine and home runs per nine.

Pitching in Coors Field doesn't help, but injuries have been the main culprit. The Rockies learned Friday that Tyler Chatwood will have his second Tommy John surgery, and Brett Anderson, Jordan Lyles, Eddie Butler and Jhoulys Chacin each have been hurt as well.

"Our depth has been tested in a lot of ways and on the mound is one of them," Weiss said. "Everyone has to deal with it at some level in this league. It's tougher to overcome it on the mound than it is with your position players."

Bill Brink: bbrink@post-gazette.com and Twitter @BrinkPG.


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