Pirates not planning to shut down Cole early

Pirates not planning to shut down Cole early

PITTSBURGH -- While scaling each rung of the Pirates' Minor League ladder last year, Gerrit Cole totaled 132 innings. In Sunday's start against the Mets -- an unexpected assignment to give scheduled pitcher Jeff Locke's tight lower back additional time to quiet down -- Cole in all likelihood will cross the 110-inning mark for this season.

This will come with 2 1/2 more months remaining in the Pirates' title chase. However, the right-hander is along for the ride, according to manager Clint Hurdle, who essentially asserted, "Gerrit is a big boy. He can handle it."

To be precise, what the Bucs skipper said was that Cole "has got the frame and physical strength to repeat his delivery. There is nothing saying right now that he will be cut off prematurely."

Hurdle and staff, coaching and training, have done their due diligence on the makeup of the 6-foot-4, 240-pound 22-year-old.

"We've had those internal discussions about innings," Hurdle said. "We've talked with our strength-and-conditioning guy [Brendon Huttmann] since we got our hands on [Cole]. He's been in the organization for two years and everything has been monitored, so we feel good about the place we're at. He's in a good place to manage this season."

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.