7/23/2014 10:30 P.M. ET
Rehabbing Cole throws sim game without issue
By Stephen Pianovich / MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- Gerrit Cole's second and more cautious rehab process of the season saw its first simulated game Wednesday at PNC Park. The hard-throwing righty tossed 70 pitches and said he wasn't bothered by the tight right lat that put him on the disabled list earlier this month.
"It felt good," Cole said. "It was a little rusty in some areas, but it got better as it went on."
Cole (7-4, 3.78, 1.307 WHIP in 14 starts) noted he worked on all of his pitches with Pirate hitters standing in the box. He was unsure what the next step would be, but facing live competition in a Minor League rehab appearance is likely in Cole's near future. He has not pitched in a game since leaving with the injury after five shutout innings against the Phillies on July 4.
Tightness in the muscle located in the middle of the back was an issue for Cole when he left the start, and he said effects of the injury lingered for about a week afterward. But Cole added it was not on his mind while throwing the simulated game, crediting the careful process he's gone through since tweaking it.
"We were cautious with it early instead of really aggressive, gave it time to bounce back," Cole said. "We tried to focus on feeling good when I started throwing rather than working through stuff, and I think it's paid off so far."
A rehab start was not part of the regimen after Cole spent almost all of June on the DL with fatigue in his throwing shoulder. In his first start after that injury, Cole tied a career-worst giving up five runs and did so on seven hits in just four innings. His next start was the one against Philadelphia where he allowed three baserunners (one hit) in five frames before exiting.
While he got back on track one start later, Cole learned a lesson from being touched up by the Mets.
"Coming in against the Mets, there were still some things I needed to clean up," Cole said. "I was able to do it in four days coming back against the Phillies. But at this time in the year, you can't come out not sharp and give games away. … It's important to come back and give quality starts; if it takes longer, so be it."
Pirates place Marte on disabled list, recall Morel
PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates placed Starling Marte on the seven-day concussion disabled list Wednesday, five days after Marte took a 93-mph fastball off the helmet. Infielder Brent Morel was promoted from Triple-A Indianapolis to take Marte's roster spot.
Marte was beaned by Rockies reliever Adam Ottavino and initially stayed in Friday's contest before eventually being removed for a defensive replacement. The 25-year-old sat out Saturday, pinch-hit on Sunday and started Monday. However, he was out of the lineup and unavailable off the bench Tuesday night against the Dodgers, as complications from the ball to the head apparently worsened.
"It's a very difficult situation to assess," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "The way they feel one day may not be the way they feel two days later because the lingering effects of what can stimulate them, whether it be light, whether it be exertion, whether it be heat, whether it be all those things."
Marte went 0-for-4 in his brief return to the order, and he is hitting .255/.328/.385 with a team-best 21 steals during his third Major League Season.
Meanwhile, Morel is making his second stint with the Bucs this season. The 27-year-old also was on their roster for a short period in May, appearing in one game.
Morel has a .229 average in 195 career Major League games -- all of which were with the White Sox before 2014. In 73 games for Indianapolis this season, Morel hit .246 with three homers and 37 RBIs.
Alvarez out of lineup due to knee injury
PITTSBURGH -- Pedro Alvarez was not in the Pirates' starting lineup Wednesday, one day after tweaking his left knee while running the bases.
Manager Clint Hurdle said after the game that Alvarez was available as a pinch-hitter if needed in the Pirates' 6-1 win against the Dodgers, but he was not used.
Alvarez was on the field and took batting practice Wednesday. He exited Tuesday night's contest with "left knee discomfort" which Hurdle said happened when he broke out of the box on a double in the fourth inning. Josh Harrison took over for Alvarez, and the utilityman is starting at third base against Dan Haren.
Alvarez is hitting .239/.326/.410 with 15 homers and 47 RBIs this season. Especially lately, however, the attention has been on his arm rather than his bat. Before leaving the game Tuesday, Alvarez committed his 21st throwing error of the season -- his fifth in 12 games, all of which came on throws.
Alvarez has led the Majors in errors the last two seasons, and tops that list once again in 2014. However, he never had more than 16 throwing gaffes in one season.
First number, last word
1.538: Neil Walker's OPS since the All-Star Break. The second baseman is hitting .526 and has hits in all five games since the midseason hiatus entering Wednesday. Four of his 10 hits have gone for extra bases including Tuesday's solo homer, his 15th of the season.
"In this division, and the opponents we have, it's going to come down to the wire. We wouldn't want it any other way, but there's no room to feel [stuff] out on the mound right now." - Gerrit Cole, on the importance of good outings once he returns from the DL.
• Rehabbing infielder Clint Barmes (left groin) said trainers told him he is ahead of schedule in his recovery. Barmes, who was placed in the DL on July 6, jogged for the first time Wednesday and will travel with the Pirates on their upcoming West Coast road trip and hopes to take batting practice within the coming week.
The 35-year-old has hit off a tee and said he wasn't agitated by the injury. Barmes, who gives the Bucs defensive flexibility, is hitting .239 in 42 games this season.
Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.