Cole pitches into 5th inning in Pirates' loss to Twins

BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole pitched into the fifth inning Sunday in a 6-4 loss against the Minnesota Twins, but likely will need one more start in Florida before joining Pittsburgh's rotation.

Cole worked 4 2-3 innings and gave up two runs on eight hits. He walked one and struck out four.

''It was a productive outing,'' Cole said. ''All four (pitches) were good at certain points in the game. Now, we're looking for the next step, in terms of pitch count and efficiency.''

It was only the second Grapefruit League game for Cole, who was slowed in the first week of camp by a sore ribcage. He indicated he needs another outing, likely on Saturday in a minor league game, to get up to speed for the season.

In four innings against a lineup constructed mostly of backups, Twins right-hander Tyler Duffey allowed four runs on four hits. He walked three and struck out two.

''I was throwing my chase breaking ball with one strike instead of two strikes, and that's where you get in a lot of trouble,'' Duffey said. ''When I got ahead I was fine. When I got behind I left some pitches here and there.''

Duffey, who has a 7.30 ERA in four Grapefruit League appearances, is competing with Ricky Nolasco for a rotation spot.

''Whatever is going to happen will be the best for everybody,'' Duffey said. ''I haven't done myself any favors, I know that much. Whatever happens, happens.

Trying to win a bench spot with the Pirates, Matt Joyce hit a solo homer and an RBI double. Joyce, a non-roster invitee who hopes to make the team as a fourth outfielder, has homered in three of his past seven games.

''It's nice to be squaring up some balls and hitting them hard,'' Joyce said.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Pirates: SS Jordy Mercer was not in the lineup a day after jamming his knee on the third base bag. He has a minor bruise. He is expected to play on Tuesday against the Yankees. . 3B Jung Ho Kang (leg) played third base in a minor league game. Kang is able to run the bases, but has not yet attempted sliding. ''I did better, but it's not 100 percent yet,'' Kang said through his interpreter. ''I'm still getting used to game speed.''

QUENTIN RELEASED

Twins: OF Carlos Quentin was released after he rejected his assignment to Triple-A Rochester. GM Terry Ryan said he expects Quentin will retire.

''He doesn't have much interest in playing Triple-A for us and I don't believe he has any interest in playing Triple-A for anybody else,'' Ryan said.

TOMLIN VISITS

Pirates: Steelers coach Mike Tomlin spoke to the coaches and players in the clubhouse.

''I just shared with the group one of my appropriate cliches for this time of year: Be where you are,'' Tomlin said. ''When you get toward the end of a training session, it's human nature to kind of pack your bags mentally and stick them in the hallway. I always make a conscious effort not to do so. I try to squeeze every drop out of (Steelers camp in) Latrobe that I can . and I encourage these guys to do the same down here in Bradenton.''

Tomlin and Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert visit Pirates camp every spring to gather ideas they might be able to use with their team.

''We're in the beginning phases of formulating thoughts and ideas about what our group is going to look like,'' Tomlin said. ''To see a group in the midst of its team development is exciting for us.''

UP NEXT

Twins: LHP Tommy Milone will start against Boston on Tuesday. He has clinched the No. 4 spot in the rotation and will make his season debut April 8 against the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals.

Pirates: Minor league LHP Steven Brault will start against the Yankees on Tuesday in Tampa. LHP Jeff Locke, who's one of three pitchers vying for two spots in the rotation, will pitch in the controlled environment of a minor league game.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.