Friday’s start was Gerrit Cole’s third outing since returning from a disabled list stint for shoulder fatigue, but he exited after five innings with a strained lat muscle and is now back on the shelf.
Cole described the current injury as “something completely different” than what put him on the DL last month, and it’s especially frustrating because he’d thrown five shutout innings before leaving the start.
Because of the All-Star break it’s possible that Cole will miss just one turn in the rotation, although the Pirates figure to be pretty cautious with their 23-year-old former No. 1 overall pick. Triple-A right-hander Brandon Cumpton will step into Cole’s rotation spot after posting a 4.61 ERA in nine starts for the Pirates earlier this season.
Free agent right-hander Henderson Alvarez signed a deal with the Tigres de Quintana Roo of the Mexican Baseball League earlier this week, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Friday. The righty wasn’t necessarily too fringey a player to hack it in the big leagues, but there were no MLB takers in attendance during his showcase in Venezuela last month and he clearly felt it best to try his luck elsewhere.
The 27-year-old’s last major league gig came with the Phillies, for whom he delivered a 4.30 ERA, 6.8 BB/9 and 3.7 SO/9 over 14 2/3 innings in 2017. While he’s not too far removed from his first and only All-Star bid in 2014, he was besieged by shoulder issues in 2015 and 2016 and underwent season-ending surgeries as a result.
That added injury risk, coupled with the fact that he hasn’t pitched more than 22 innings in a single season since 2014, may have been too much for major league teams to take on this spring. Assuming he steers clear of further injuries, however, a return to the majors may not be entirely out of the question in years to come.