The Pirates don't anticipate shutting down former top-pick Gerrit Cole this season, using a systematic analysis of Cole's innings pitched and frequent communication with the right-hander to make sure they aren't overworking him.
Cole is on a pitch count this season -- as are all Pirates pitchers -- though team officials declined to say what that limit was or how close Cole is to reaching it.
"A big part of our development system, a big part of what we do, and how we do it is to put him in a position to be able to complete a major league season," Huntington said.
The Pirates expect Cole to throw more pitches and innings this year than he has in his life but believe he has the physical frame, the strength and the repeatable delivery that will help him endure.
"We're going to be smart," Hurdle said. "We're going to challenge him as well because we want to continue to grow him when those times are appropriate. But there's not anything saying right now that he's going to be cutoff prematurely. We think we're in a very good place."
Cole has thrown 412/3 innings in the majors this year and 68 innings in the minors. He threw 132 innings in the minors in 2012, his first professional season.
He never threw more than 123 innings in three collegiate seasons at UCLA.
Parting with prospects
The Pirates are more willing to part with a blue-chip prospect in a trade this season because they have more of them in their system now than at any point in Huntington's tenure.
But Huntington said the Pirates will not overpay, saying years of control will still be an important factor when trading away an elite prospect.
Legendary first pitch
Legendary Entertainment founder and CEO Thomas Tull threw out the first pitch Sunday at PNC Park. Tull, who is a part of the Steelers ownership group, helped bring the filming of "The Dark Knight Rises" to Pittsburgh in 2011.
Legendary helped produce the recent Batman trilogy, "The Hangover" trilogy and the Jackie Robinson biopic "42." All Pirates players received "Legendary" sweatshirts this week, embroidered with their jersey numbers.