Pirates notebook: Gerrit Cole will be scheduled for a third rehab start

Gerrit Cole will make a third rehabilitation start with Class AAA Indianapolis on an undetermined date, manager Clint Hurdle said Wednesday.

Cole will throw a bullpen session today, then a date will be set for a third rehabilitation start.

In his second rehabilitation outing Tuesday, Cole posted numbers that did not scream success. But Hurdle said it was a “gear-down” game for him, with focus on repeating delivery and maintaining his arm slot.

Cole allowed five runs and 10 hits in 42⁄3 innings. He struck out three and walked one, throwing 53 of 74 pitches for strikes.

Hurdle spoke to Cole and Pirates special assistant and pitching guru Jim Benedict before the game Wednesday.

“He wanted to call today, he wanted to check in on some guys here and let me know he thought he was in a good place,” Hurdle said. “It was a gear-down game for him in the fact that we gave him a couple goals going in. We wanted him to repeat delivery, maintain arm slot.

“The challenge that can come with that is the young man is also out there competing and doesn’t want to give up runs. We told him [with] the bigger picture, we need to put this step in place, this time out, not to be reactionary for the results we might get, and maintain velocity consistently.”

Benedict, according to Hurdle, told him it was a good outing considering the variables Cole was expected to focus on going into it.

“Jim felt good about everything that happened during the game and it was a positive [outing],” Hurdle said. “ … He feels good.”

Walker sits with sore back

Neil Walker was not in the lineup Wednesday against the Miami Marlins after leaving the game Tuesday with tightening in his lower back.

It’s the same injury that kept him out of the lineup over the weekend in Arizona.

“We thought we’d give him another full day of treatment, see the doctors,” Hurdle said. “The evaluations came back that everything was in a good place.”

Walker was treated before the game and was available off the bench.

Injuries call for adjustments

Hurdle prepared for a game without two players, with Walker and Andrew McCutchen (fractured rib) injured but not on the disabled list.

It will mean challenges, he said rather diplomatically.

“It presents,” he said, before pausing, “some different challenges. None that I haven’t taken on with a coaching staff before.

“You don’t have as many men to work with off the bench. There might be a double switch in place to maximize the player you have. Sometimes you hold onto the most versatile player until the end. The player who can play multiple positions toward the end.”

When all else fails, the Pirates will prepare to be short on options in certain situations.

“There’s some things that you can’t do,” Hurdle said. “You know you can’t do them going in. There’s some matchups you might run into you’re just going to run into, you don’t have a counter-punch for.”

Gap in the lineup

Hurdle said they will handle the No. 3 spot in the lineup by committee until McCutchen returns.

He used Russell Martin there Wednesday against Miami right-hander Tom Koehler, but chose Josh Harrison Tuesday against Marlins left-hander Brad Hand.

“You look at batting averages against … who’s hit and had success with runners in scoring position,” Hurdle said. “I don’t see the need to try and lock into one right now.”

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

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