PHOENIX -- Instead of stepping atop the mound of Indianapolis' Victory Field, as originally scheduled, Gerrit Cole on Saturday stepped into Jim Benedict's laboratory.
Under the watchful eyes of the Mr. Goodwrench of Pirates pitchers, Cole threw a bullpen session in his ongoing search for, in manager Clint Hurdle's words, "the feeling he had before the initial setback."
By that, Hurdle meant the sore shoulder that first sent Cole to the DL on June 8. Cole returned from that injury, very briefly, on June 28, and was back on the DL with a sore latissimus muscle 11 days later.
At the time of the 23-year-old righty's return to the DL, Hurdle removed any gray area from the second comeback. "We want him to get right, so when he returns, he's back to pitching freely," Hurdle had said.
Although the end result was good, that sense apparently wasn't there while Cole was blanking Rochester for five innings in Monday's first rehab outing. So the second rehab outing was placed on hold.
"He made a comment. I made a comment. He's working on getting his game together. Repeating the delivery. The different slider, curve, change slots," Hurdle said with a simple shrug. "That's it. No smoking mirrors, or trickery."
Hurdle presumably referred to the popular perception that Cole's aborted rehab start set up an earlier than anticipated return into the Bucs rotation.
"There's no urgency, because of a pennant race. His health is the first concern, and the correct mechanics to pitch is the second concern," Hurdle said. "We told him to take the appropriate time and honestly evaluate how he feels and how the ball is coming out of his hand. So when he gets back, he's able to throw it in gear and get after it."
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. Adam Lichtenstein is an associate reporter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.