Pirates ace Cole expects to return for 'majority of season'

NEW YORK (AP) Pittsburgh Pirates ace Gerrit Cole expects to come back from a strained right triceps in time to pitch ''a majority of the season.''

Cole was placed on the disabled list Tuesday, retroactive to June 11. There is no specific timetable for his return, but it sounds as though he likely will be sidelined more than the minimum 15 days.

''It's frustrating, but you try to look at the positives,'' Cole said Wednesday at Citi Field. ''I mean, there are a lot worse injuries out there that you can deal with. We should be in play for a majority of the season.''

The right-hander said he doesn't want to put any particular numbers on how much time he might miss. Head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk said it's too early to tell how long Cole could be out.

''We're not going to rush it, and we're not going to take this slow. We need to do it right,'' said Cole, already receiving all sorts of treatment. ''In a situation like this, you don't really want to put dates on anything because you can hit snafus and setbacks here or there and you just don't want to put anything in concrete.

''I would say that the one thing that they've wanted to emphasize is that the beginning of this process is just as important as the end. You need to be able to give time for the tissue to heal and to get the integrity of the tissue back before you resume throwing. And that process can take - everybody's body is different. So I just need to get to a point where I can go through daily motions and not really think about it and not have to substitute my left hand if I'm going to be grabbing something or pulling something,'' he said.

Cole is 5-4 with a 2.77 ERA in 12 starts. He went 19-8 with a 2.60 ERA last season, when he made his first All-Star team and finished fourth in NL Cy Young Award voting.

He was injured throwing a fastball last Friday against the St. Louis Cardinals and left his start in the third inning. Tests confirmed the triceps strain, Tomczyk said.

''I wouldn't really call it pain. Just felt different, and then it kind of manifested itself when I sat down and tried to go back out for the third,'' Cole said. ''It's feeling better.''

Touted prospect Jameson Taillon has taken Cole's spot in the rotation. The big right-hander carried a no-hit bid into the seventh inning of his second major league start Tuesday night, pitching eight shutout innings of two-hit ball to beat the New York Mets for his first career win.

''A 162-game schedule is going to let you know if you have depth - if you have real depth - or if you're lacking depth. It's also going to give opportunities to different guys at different times,'' Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. ''We're all wound together, though. It's not one guy that's going to pick up the slack for Cole. We just collectively as a unit need to go out there and keep ballin', keep playing.''

Taillon's next outing will be Sunday night at Wrigley Field against the major league-leading Chicago Cubs.

''He just gets to go play ball now,'' Hurdle said.

ON BOARD

Pittsburgh signed first-round draft pick Will Craig, a third baseman out of Wake Forest. Craig receives a signing bonus of $2,253,700, the assigned slot value for his selection at No. 22 overall.

ROUGH NIGHT

Jeff Locke (5-5) was ineffective in an 11-2 loss to Noah Syndergaard (7-2) and the Mets.

FLIP-FLOP

Gregory Polanco and Andrew McCutchen switched spots in the lineup, with Polanco raised to the 2-hole and McCutchen dropped to third. Hurdle said the absence of injured catcher Francisco Cervelli was a factor, and the manager would like to keep this configuration moving forward. ''It's kind of based on 10 1/2 weeks of information,'' Hurdle said. ''We'll see how it translates into actual game performance.''

TRAINER'S ROOM

Pirates: Starling Marte exited in the fifth with a swollen cheek after diving for Yoenis Cespedes' single - the ball bounced in front of Marte and hit him under his left eye. The left fielder was smiling as he walked toward the dugout with a trainer. ... Pittsburgh C Chris Stewart, banged up in several areas, got the night off. Stewart was smacked in the left jaw by a backswing Tuesday, then hit by a pitch near his left hip the following inning. He came through concussion evaluations just fine, Hurdle said, and was available off the bench. ... RHP Ryan Vogelsong, on the 60-day DL after sustaining facial fractures when he was hit by a pitch last month, is ''doing remarkable,'' Tomczyk said. Vogelsong's vision keeps improving and it was read as 20/20, Tomczyk said. The pitcher is throwing on flat ground - but not playing catch - and has been cleared to exert himself. ... Pirates C Elias Diaz, on the 60-day DL with a right elbow injury, is taking batting practice on the field and throwing up to 120 feet. The team plans to have him catch a simulated game in Florida in the coming days, Tomczyk said.

UP NEXT

Pirates RHP Juan Nicasio (5-5, 5.34 ERA) starts the rubber game of the series Thursday night against 43-year-old RHP Bartolo Colon (5-3, 3.08). Nicasio went five innings in a 3-1 win over the Mets last week in Pittsburgh but is winless in five road starts this year. Colon is 4-2 with a 1.88 ERA - his lowest against any opponent - in eight career starts vs. the Pirates.

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