Gerrit Cole didn’t have much trouble taking on Spain. The right-hander threw three shutout innings in his second Spring Training appearance, giving up two hits, walking one, and striking out six. He was sitting 94-97 MPH, and throwing mostly fastballs. He didn’t need anything else.
“He was focused. He went out there with a focus and with intent,” Clint Hurdle said of the outing. “Loved the pace and rhythm. Loved the downhill fastball. Low strikes. The breaking ball was sharp. It was a very good day for Cole.”
Cole struck out the first six batters he saw. One of those strikeouts came on a check-swing against a low and away slider. Most of the strikeouts came from the fastball. Cole either froze batters with the pitch down the middle, or blew it by them for the swinging strikeout. The final batter in the second inning swung so hard that he flung his bat ten rows into the stands on the first base side.
“That’s the plan pretty much every time I go out,” Cole said of working mostly with the fastball. “It’s the best pitch. You’ve got to be aggressive with it to get early contact.”
He did mix in the slider, and threw a few curveballs. He didn’t throw the changeup today, just sticking to the fastball and breaking pitches.
“They’re OK,” Cole said of the progress of his breaking pitches. “I don’t have great feel for the spin yet, in terms of locating them. But I can create some break.”
The right-hander didn’t get much of an opportunity to pitch in Spring Training last year. He’s already made two appearances this year. There are already questions being asked in the post-game interviews about his chances of making the team. Today’s game doesn’t say a lot, since the talent level for Spain isn’t that great. Cole has only pitched in two games above Double-A, so he’s going to need some more time in Triple-A before he eventually gets the call. No matter what happens for him in Spring Training, I don’t see him making the club, or arriving before mid-season.
Sanchez Off to a Hot Start This Spring
Gaby Sanchez had a big day today, going 3-for-3 with a double and a home run. He came into the game batting 5-for-15 with a double and two homers so far this Spring.
“Gaby looks good up there, he really does,” Clint Hurdle said. “Just the extensive work over the winter. A full winter’s worth of work. He got in a different strength and conditioning program.”
Last week Sanchez moved over to third base for the second half of a game, getting his first game experience there since 2009 in Triple-A. Today he started at third, but didn’t get any opportunities with Gerrit Cole and Stolmy Pimentel striking out nine of 15 batters in the first five innings.
“I might have been able to slide over for an inning at third when Cole’s on the mound,” Hurdle joked after the game.
Sanchez is currently slated to platoon at first base with Garrett Jones. He had strong numbers in 2010 and 2011, but struggled in 2012. It would be a big boost for the Pirates if he bounces back to that 2010-11 form.
**Jeff Karstens threw two innings today at Pirate City. One was a bullpen, and one was a simulated inning on the mound. The Pirates will see how he feels tomorrow, then will have him throw another two innings at a future date.
**Russell Martin could start at catcher on Saturday, according to Hurdle.
**Anderson Hernandez hit a three run homer today, and Jeff Larish hit a solo shot, helping the Pirates to their 10-0 win over Spain.