PITTSBURGH -- As this year's No. 1 Draft pick Gerrit Cole prepares to begin his tenure with the Pirates in Bradenton, Fla., this week, the club's previous first-rounder, Jameson Taillon, is nearing the end of his first professional season.
Following some time in extended spring camp, Taillon reported to Class A West Virginia in late April, where he has pitched all season. After a four-inning outing on Friday, the right-hander has now logged 79 2/3 innings in 20 starts.
The numbers aren't stellar -- a 4.52 ERA, 83 hits allowed -- but the progress behind the numbers has been encouraging to the Pirates.
"Jameson has had an interesting year," general manager Neal Huntington said of the 2010 No. 2 overall Draft pick. "At about any time, Jameson can blow away just about any low-A hitter with his breaking ball. It's been a bigger focus on, for the big picture: Command the fastball, command the fastball, command the fastball. Don't rely on the breaking ball to get a weak hitter out."
"As a result," Huntington continued, "Jameson will get hit. The 19- and 20-year-olds, they can hit a fastball. And so it's about a bigger-picture development for Jameson."
Even as Taillon's fastball command continues to develop, he has maintained stellar control. He's walked only 18 and has struck out 80. Left-handed hitters are batting just .211 against him, while right-handed batters are hitting at a .304 clip.
"We'd rather have him challenge hitters and learn what he can and can not do," Huntington said. "He is learning that even at 97 [mph] or 100 [mph], it can't be in the middle of the plate. He is learning some very valuable lessons this year, and we are very pleased with where he is developmentally. We're putting him in position to win in Pittsburgh, not in low-A ball."
Hurdle ejected after disputing call at second
PITTSBURGH -- For the second time this series, manager Clint Hurdle was ejected by second-base umpire Brian Knight.
Sunday's ejection came in the ninth inning of a 5-4 loss to the Reds, after Knight ruled Josh Harrison out when the pinch-runner attempted to steal second. The call came at a crucial time, too, as Harrison was trying to move into scoring position with no outs and the Pirates trailing by one.
"I saw the throw, glove on the ground and then a tag applied," Hurdle said afterward. "I thought the tag was more toward the top of the body and the hand was already in there. I had him safe."
Replays did, too, though that was of little consolation.
"I kind of stood there in disbelief," Harrison said. "I was in there."
The call wound up costing the Pirates a run, as Neil Walker immediately followed with a double. Walker was later stranded on third to end the game.
On Friday, Hurdle was ejected by Knight for arguing a called third strike on Garrett Jones. The Pirates lost that game as well. Hurdle has now been ejected four times this year.
Maholm will have shoulder checked by Andrews
PITTSBURGH -- Pirates left-hander Paul Maholm will get a second opinion on his ailing left shoulder from noted orthopedist Dr. James Andrews on Monday.
Maholm was placed on the disabled list Friday due to a left shoulder strain. The injury has been a nagging one, Maholm said, that has also plagued him in previous seasons. This time, though, the discomfort didn't go away, prompting Maholm to be shut down after making a five-inning start on Wednesday.
General manager Neal Huntington cautioned against reading too much into Maholm's visit to Andrews.
"We wanted to get a second look at the shoulder in terms of what is going on and how we best move beyond it," Huntington said.
Maholm, who made his Major League debut in 2005, has never been on the DL before.
Lincoln ready to stretch out in spot start
PITTSBURGH -- When he was called up on Aug. 6, Brad Lincoln transitioned from a starting role at Triple-A Indianapolis to working out of the bullpen in Pittsburgh. He will return to being a starter, at least temporarily, for the second game of Monday's doubleheader against Milwaukee.
The longest outings Lincoln has had since his callup have been just two innings, far from the work of a starter. He has remained stretched out during bullpen sessions, though, and estimated he'd be able to throw 60-75 pitches.
"I've just been doing some bullpens in between my appearances out of the bullpen itself," he said.
In 19 starts with Indianapolis this season, Lincoln was 7-8, with a 4.19 ERA and 94 strikeouts compared to 21 walks. He made one Major League start this season, the second game of a doubleheader against Washington on July 2.
"I'm pleased that they have decided to let me have the opportunity [to start]," Lincoln said. "That's what I have been doing my whole career, so hopefully, it will go good for us."
Hanrahan, Veras likely out for twin bill
PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates' bullpen situation has gotten complicated leading into Monday's doubleheader.
Joel Hanrahan and Jose Veras both pitched in three consecutive games over the weekend, meaning that both are likely unavailable on Monday. Bucs manager Clint Hurdle has a policy that he won't use a pitcher for four consecutive days. The loss of Hanrahan and Veras leaves the Pirates without their top two closer options.
With Brad Lincoln also unavailable because of his scheduled start Monday, the Pirates also used Jason Grilli and Daniel McCutchen during their 5-4 loss to the Reds.
A roster move prior to Monday's game, or after the first game on Monday is possible, in order to add depth to the bullpen.
"You've got to be creative," Hurdle said. "You're looking for some length out of your starter. And you always have the option to add another pitcher tomorrow, add one after the first game, whatever."
Second baseman Neil Walker is hitting .410 (16-for-39) in 12 games against Cincinnati this season and has reached base safely in his past 15 games against the Reds.
The Pirates surpassed their 2010 attendance total on Sunday, with a crowd of 29,967. They finished the weekend having drawn 1,624,084 fans in 64 home dates, compared to last season's total of 1,613,399.
Pirates right-hander Evan Meek (right shoulder strain) began a rehab stint with Class A Advanced Bradenton on Sunday. Meek pitched one inning, allowed one hit and struck out one.
The Pirates signed right-handed pitcher Aaron Heilman to a Minor League contract on Sunday and assigned him to Triple-A Indianapolis. Heilman had a 6.88 ERA in 32 appearances with Arizona earlier this season. He was released by the D-backs in July and spent about a month in the Phillies' organization before being released on Saturday.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. Laura Myers is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.