Pirates notebook: Rotation could have Cole back soon


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MIAMI — Gerrit Cole threw a bullpen session Sunday and said he felt good, setting him up for a possible return to the rotation in the next week or two.

Cole, who is on the 15-day disabled list because of right shoulder fatigue, threw 34 pitches in his second time on a mound since the DL stint began.

“Little rusty on the timing, the ball was up, but it was defined,” Cole said. “So it was good. It felt like a normal midweek ’pen.”

The bullpen felt better than the first side session he threw Thursday, Cole said, though he noted he also felt good the first time out.

“You tell on the recovery end,” he said. “It’s usually the following day tells you how good you felt the day before. [Today] will be a big day.”

When the Pirates return to PNC Park for this week’s series against the Cincinnati Reds, Cole will throw a simulated game. That could happen Tuesday or Wednesday, but Cole said the plans are “flexible” because of today’s off day. The team could be deciding how to structure the rotation, and Cole’s return to it, heading into the road trip to Chicago and Tampa Bay. Cole is eligible to come off the DL Thursday.

Player named in Davis trade

Minor league left-hander Blake Taylor, the Pirates’ second-round draft pick in 2013, went to the New York Mets as the player to be named later in the April 18 trade that brought Ike Davis to Pittsburgh.

Taylor, 18, had a 2.57 ERA in 21 innings last season for the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Pirates.

The Pirates had to wait until a year had passed since Taylor signed his contract, which was June 14, 2013.

Right-hander Zack Thornton also went to the Mets in the deal.

Injury updates

Neil Walker, sidelined after an appendectomy, could swing a bat and play catch as early as Tuesday, manager Clint Hurdle said. Walker has resumed running.

Francisco Liriano could resume throwing Tuesday. So far, Hurdle said, Liriano has been limited to cardio work. He is on the DL because of a strained left oblique.

“We’re going to be very open-minded with his return because number one, we got to get him to the point where he can throw the ball without any discomfort,” Hurdle said. “I think it’s actually good for him to unplug mentally.”

Stop-gap solution sent back

Infielder Michael Martinez was optioned to Class AAA Indianapolis before Sunday’s game to make room for starter Vance Worley.

Because Josh Harrison left Wednesday’s game after rolling his ankle, and with Walker already on the DL, the Pirates called up Martinez to provide insurance against an injury to Jordy Mercer or Clint Barmes. Harrison returned Saturday and went 3 for 5.

“Once we got Josh in play [Saturday] night, he had the full complement of challenges that had to be made to play a game, and he performed them all above and beyond any expectation of injury,” Hurdle said.

By officially selecting Worley’s contract, the Pirates filled the final vacant spot on their 40-man roster.

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


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