Gerrit Cole Got A Tough Introduction To Double-A





PITTSBURGH—Righthander Gerrit Cole had an interesting first two starts at the Double-A level.

The lights went out at Peoples Gas Park in Altoona in Cole's first game with the Curve, causing a delay. In his next outing, he was hit in the neck by a line drive, though he sustained no injury beyond a bruise.

Nothing seems to bother Cole, the No. 1 overall pick in last year's draft out of UCLA. He has made a relatively smooth transition to professional baseball, going 5-1, 2.55 in 13 starts at high Class A Bradenton, with 69 strikeouts and 21 walks in 67 innings. He was 2-1, 4.63 in three starts at Altoona leading up to his appearance in the Futures Game. But he says his first spin at pro ball hasn't been quite as easy as he has made it look.

"It's a different game than college," Cole said. "The speed of the game is faster. The hitters are better. The competition is better. There are a number of adjustments that I've had to make and am still making.

"The biggest adjustment has to been to see how my pitches work in a different environment, facing professional hitters with wood bats. It's still a learning process."

One thing that hasn't changed about Cole from his college days is his almost split personality. Off the field, the 6-foot-6 Cole is quite genial. When he's pitching, though, he stomps around the mound with a scowl on his face and is as intimidating as his size would suggest.

"I'm a competitor and I think everyone who makes it to professional baseball is a competitor," he said. "That's what drives you to make it this far. You have to love the competition and you don't get better competition than in pro ball."

Until you get to the major leagues, of course, and Cole's ascent to Double-A in his inaugural season makes it easy to wonder if joining the Pirates isn't too far off, perhaps as soon as next season. He says he isn't thinking that far ahead. "I'm just concentrating what I have to do to succeed at a new level," Cole said. "That's a big enough challenge for now. I'll let the rest of it take care of itself."

PITTBURGERS

• Triple-A Indianapolis center fielder Starling Marte was putting himself in position for a big league callup with eight consecutive multi-hit games from June 25-July 2. He went 18-for-37 (.486) with three home runs in that span.

• Marte was one of three Indianapolis players selected to play in the Triple-A all-star game. Lefthander Rudy Owens and shortstop Jordy Mercer were the others.