Cole earns promotion to Class AA Altoona
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CLEVELAND -- The Pirates promoted right-hander Gerrit Cole from Class A Bradenton to Class AA Altoona Friday after two months adjusting to pro ball in the Florida State League.
Cole, 21, started 13 games and went 5-1 with a 2.55 ERA. He struck out 69 and walked 21 in 67 innings. The Pirates officially will add him to the Curve roster Wednesday, and he will make his first start against New Britain that night.
"We're working on the same things, we're just working on it at a more challenging level," assistant general manager Kyle Stark said. "We're working on it at a level that's less forgiving."
Cole had a 1.96 ERA in his past 10 starts. He has held opposing batters to a .217 average this season.
"When you get to a place where you're continually better and performing better, you want to make sure you can [raise] that level of opposition where there's more challenges for him as well, and I think that's what we've done," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
While in Bradenton, the Pirates wanted Cole to improve the command of his fastball, which can reach 100 mph but is hittable when it is flat or elevated.
"I think that it's something that he will probably continue to battle," Stark said. "When he's got [downward] angle to his fastball, it's really tough to hit. It's something that he's made significant strides on."
The Pirates gave Cole an $8 million signing bonus in August.
Charlie Morton had Tommy John ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow Thursday, but it is likely his rehabilitation already has begun.
"The day of surgery, the day after surgery, they're already starting to work it and try to get that extension back," said Brad Lincoln, who had such surgery in 2007.
More important, Lincoln said, was the mental adjustment.
"You know you just went through major surgery, you're going to be out for at least a year and just trying to cope with that and realize that, 'Hey, I need to work that much harder to get back to where I need to be," he said.
Lincoln said the focus of Morton's rehabilitation likely will be strengthening his right shoulder.
"You don't want to let any of your other body parts weaken to put more stress on the part you've had surgery on," he said.
Lincoln's recovery took about 13 months, but he said 15 to 16 months passed before he felt comfortable on the mound and confident in throwing breaking balls.
Garrett Jones started the month of June well, hitting .344 with two home runs and two doubles in 10 games. He had a hit in 10 of his past 11 games entering the game Friday against the Cleveland Indians.
He has had similar streaks in the past, but generally returned to the numbers posted in 2010-11, when he hit a combined .245.
"What has happened to most hitters, comparables like Garrett, I've worked with, they get to this spot right here, and then you know what they want to do?" Hurdle said. "They want to ratchet it up a couple more notches. Before you know it, we're headed back in the other direction.
"Embrace where you are while you're there and then just stay with that."
First Published June 16, 2012 12:00 am