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.
Shortstop 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.”
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin spoke to the coaches and players in the clubhouse.
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.”
Minor league southpaw Steven Brault will start against the Yankees today in Tampa.