PITTSBURGH -- The most encouraging activity on Monday at PNC Park took place long before the gates opened, before fans could get a lift out of what was transpiring in short center.
There, under the watchful eye of pitching coach Ray Searage, Gerrit Cole played catch. Seeing a guy normally able to fire 97-mph fastballs lob balls 60 feet may not be a big deal -- unless it's a centerpiece guy who had gone on the disabled list the day before with shoulder fatigue.
The flat-ground catch, of 25 pitches, was the first time Cole had thrown since Wednesday, when it caused him enough discomfort to loop in team brass, leading to his DL stint.
"I don't see it as a huge issue," Cole said, "just something that needs to be taken care of. It's just my body letting me know that we need to get this right. I'm looking forward to getting back in the routine.
"It's the right point of attack. Fortunately, we have guys like Jeff [Locke] who can step in."
Locke, recalled from Indianapolis to take Cole's turn in the rotation, allowed three hits and one run in seven innings in a 1-0 loss to the Brewers on Sunday. The lefty will remain in the rotation, and take Cole's next turn, Friday in Miami against the Marlins.
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. Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.