Pirates notebook: Cole's return will alter rotation

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Gerrit Cole will return to the rotation Saturday, but his spot in the rotation is currently the only certainty.

The Pirates will activate Cole from the 15-day disabled list, where he will have spent 24 days because of fatigue in his right shoulder. Cole pitched a six-inning, 84-pitch simulated game Monday at Tropicana Field.

Manager Clint Hurdle did not disclose what Cole's return would mean for the five current members of the rotation. Edinson Volquez was due to start Saturday on normal rest.

"We're in discussions right now about what that will do to the rotation," Hurdle said.

As of Wednesday, Vance Worley was scheduled to start today, Brandon Cumpton Friday and Jeff Locke Sunday, all against the New York Mets at PNC Park.

The fact that each pitcher in the rotation has performed well recently complicates the decision.

Cumpton tossed seven shutout innings in his most recent start and has a 3.09 ERA in his past four starts. After Locke's 71/3 innings of three-run ball Tuesday, he has a 2.54 ERA in four starts since rejoining the rotation June 8.

Worley has walked one and struck out nine in two solid starts, one of which included seven scoreless innings. Volquez sandwiched an eight-run, 21/3-inning disaster between seven scoreless innings and eight innings of one-run ball in his three most recent starts.

Locke and Cumpton have minor league options remaining, while Worley does not.

The starting rotation has performed well in June even in Cole's absence, posting a 3.29 ERA this month.

No concussion for Marte

Starling Marte did not sustain a concussion when his head collided with Sean Rodriguez's knee on a steal attempt Tuesday night, Hurdle said.

Marte passed a concussion test Wednesday morning. He also had a swollen right middle finger that he jammed on the second-base bag.

"The reports back from the hotel were all of a positive fashion, there was nothing negative leading us more toward a concussive state," Hurdle said. "He showed up back, slept well, feels much better [Wednesday] than he did [Tuesday]."

Josh Harrison started in left field Wednesday.

Marte has a .375 average with five doubles and a home run in his past 13 games, with a hit in 12. In 10 games since moving to the No. 2 spot, he has hit .318 and scored nine runs.

Errorless streaks ends

Jordy Mercer's error in the first Wednesday ended a 54-inning streak in which the Pirates had not committed an error, their longest such streak this season. The Pirates turn 69.8 percent of balls put in play into outs, the eighth-best mark in the majors. According to Defensive Runs Saved, a metric provided by Baseball Info Solutions that attempts to quantify how many runs a player or team saves or allows compared to the average, the Pirates rank fifth in the league at 21 runs above average.

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

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