Pirates notebook: Hurdle in no hurry for Cole to star

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CHICAGO -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle talked Thursday morning about how quickly "everybody" wants Gerrit Cole speeding his way down the fast lane of baseball.

The Pirates, said Hurdle, just want him to go out and pitch.

"He's on the front end of, hopefully, a very long career," said Hurdle. "I'm going to do everything I can to slow this process down. Everybody else is in a big hurry for him. They've got him in the HOV lane, which is very unfair. Let him pitch. We're going to let him pitch."

Cole (2-0) muscled his way through six innings Thursday, giving up five hits, four runs (three earned) and two walks.

He struck out 10 and managed to grind out the win despite a wild pitch that scored a run in an even wilder three-run fourth inning by the Chicago Cubs that included a controversial call at home plate.

"I pitched OK. Fortunately, we played a great game as a team," said Cole.

"Some of the ground balls found holes. Finally got [first baseman Anthony] Rizzo to hit to the shift, and he finds the one hole that's in the shift. In those kinds of games, you've got to keep grinding and give your team as many innings as you can. Just try to outlast the other guy and keep plugging away."

Asked if it is hard to maintain focus in a game like that?

"It's definitely not easy, no," said Cole. "You've just got to kind of put your head down and take it pitch to pitch. [Catcher] Tony [Sanchez] and I were on the same page all day. We just kind of grinded it out as a team. I can't say enough for how the guys played behind me and swung the bats when it counted."

Turning down the sound

Edinson Volquez will make his second start Saturday, facing the Brewers in Milwaukee. He is coming off a strong first start Sunday and, according to the Pirates, progressing well.

Volquez had an ERA that reached well into the teens in spring training but lately has shown more control of his fastball and found his curve and changeup.

He has given up just four hits in 72/3 innings in the regular season. He made one relief appearance and the one start while fashioning a 1.59 ERA.

Hurdle said part of the progress stems from Volquez leaving behind all of the extraneous information he picked up while being shipped through five teams since his 2005 debut with Texas.

"I think he got to the point where there was a lot of noise," said Hurdle.

"You're trying to make too many people happy. He was able to dump out that bag of stuff and start writing on the chalkboard clean and fresh again. I'm definitely optimistic about the path he's on."

Mazzaro back in the fold

Right-handed relief pitcher Vin Mazzaro almost surely will make his way back to the Pirates at some point this season.

After clearing waivers earlier this week, Mazzaro accepted his outright assignment and is expected to join the Pirates' Class AAA minor league club at Indianapolis in the next few days.

Mazzaro will earn $950,000, a price tag that might have been the reason why he cleared waivers.

Taillon has surgery

Pitching prospect Jameson Taillon had Tommy John surgery Wednesday in New York and will return to Bradenton,, Fla., later this week to begin his lengthy rehab. The ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction was performed by Dr. David Altchek, and the typical return time ranges from 12 to 18 months.

Another milestone looms

Hurdle quietly reached a small milestone Tuesday night in Chicago, picking up win No. 250 as manager of the Pirates when his club outlasted the Cubs, 7-6.

At some point this season, he almost surely will hit a bigger milestone -- 800 career wins. He currently has 784 between the Colorado Rockies and the Pirates.

Polanco update

Top prospect Gregory Polanco is hitting .433 for Class AAA Indianapolis and has an eight-game hitting streak after Thursday's win against Toledo. Overall, he has had 13 hits in 30 at-bats, including one home run and two doubles.

Jenn Menendez: jmenendez@post-gazette.com and Twitter @JennMenendez.


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