Pirates plan to take their time with Cole

Pirates plan to take their time with Cole

ST. LOUIS -- When the Pirates get to Cincinnati this weekend for their final pre-All-Star-break action, Gerrit Cole will have a chance to consult with Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto.

And what Cole hears should be encouraging: Cueto's 2013 season was wrecked by a injured right lat -- the same issue that sent Cole back to the disabled list -- but he has recovered nicely, and he is one of the frontrunners for the 2014 National League Cy Young Award.

Their injuries, however, are not identical. Cueto had a strained lat; Cole has a tight lat, considered to be less severe. Cole felt the tightness during his Friday start against the Phillies before leaving the game after the fifth inning.

The club does not see a need to completely shut him down and, in fact, Cole was due to play some light catch on Tuesday.

"Maybe we'll script a [return] program for him [on Wednesday]," said manager Clint Hurdle.

The Bucs will make sure Cole is on a slower track back from this injury than he was from the shoulder fatigue that had him on the DL from June 8-28. He threw three simulated games, but no rehab games, prior to rejoining the rotation.

"There will be a rehab start involved down the line [this time]," confirmed Hurdle, who alluded to the tricky task of reining in his eager young pitcher. "We want him to understand that when he comes back, we want to give him an opportunity to thrive, not just survive, and pitch instinctively so he can go out and be the Gerrit Cole we've seen in the past. I don't think that's far away."

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.