Pitcher Gerrit Cole will make another rehab start with Class AAA Indianapolis, manager Clint Hurdle said Tuesday.
The intention is for Cole to get to seven innings and closer to 90 pitches, after completing six innings and throwing 74 pitches in his most recent outing.
Cole will travel with the club to Detroit, then leave and join Indianapolis for a Saturday start.
The Pirates have no plan beyond that right now, and it sounds like a return to the active roster would be next if all goes well.
“We don’t have the urgency to even map that out,” Hurdle said. “I think he’s in a spot now, at six [innings] and 74 [pitches], which we believe the next time he’s going to go seven and close to 90. I think it’s going to put him in a very good position to come back here and help this club.
“We’ll see though. I don’t know. He hasn’t pitched.”
Hurdle said it was important to be patient for several reasons.
“We make decisions with the player in the room, based on their history, history we’ve had with other players. … With what he was dealing with, I think we felt best served getting this guy back into rhythm, into repeating delivery, into repeating arm slot,” Hurdle said.
Cole went on the disabled list with right lat soreness July 9.
The Pirates recalled pitcher Brandon Cumpton from Class AAA and optioned Casey Sadler back to Indianapolis.
For now, Cumpton will be used out of the bullpen.
“I would probably not jump him into high-leverage situations just yet because it’s not something he’s got a lot of experience doing,” Hurdle said. “Game situations and the way games get played, it might force it that way, but it’s not something that’s at the top of the list. We’re looking for multiple innings first.”
Cumpton is 3-3 with a 4.98 ERA in 10 starts for the Pirates this season. With Indianapolis, he has gone 5-4 with a 3.03 ERA in 12 games. He made an appearance Sunday, pitching a scoreless inning of relief.
DL unlikely for Walker
Neil Walker was not in the lineup again and was not expected to be available off the bench. But he is improving, Hurdle said, and it is becoming more unlikely that a stint on the disabled list will be necessary.
“On the back side of it, where you can’t reach it,” Hurdle said. “He’s showing improvement … and going through the examinations with the doctors. Again, anybody who’s had a back challenge, I think we all have different degrees of concern from time to time, and then when you find out that maybe some things you were concerned about aren’t in play, it can help the process. We’ve been able to isolate what he needs to work on to recover. He was in a better place [Monday] and better place [Tuesday].”
The team has not identified the specific problem or injury Walker is experiencing.
“I don’t know if it’s murky,” Hurdle said. “I know they continue to tell me it’s lower-back tightness. I usually don’t ask more questions than that. … I don’t need to murk up the picture, because that’s what I would do if I got involved with that.”
Barmes ready for rehab
Shortstop Clint Barmes will begin a rehab stint with Class AA Altoona today, then eventually move on to Indianapolis.
“It won’t be quite like revisiting spring training, but he has been out six weeks,” Hurdle said.
Barmes will be tasked with playing five innings, then seven and, finally, complete games before returning to the majors.
He went on the DL with a groin strain July 6.
DH time for Alvarez
Asked if Pedro Alvarez could be the designated hitter tonight and Thursday in Detroit, Hurdle said: “There’s a chance.” That is about as close to a yes as Hurdle likely would give a whole day before a game.
Jenn Menendez: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @JennMenendez.