Pirates interested in free agent right-hander Aaron Cook

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We learned earlier this month that Aaron Cook planned to talk to the Padres and Reds, but Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates have also expressed interest in the free agent right-hander.

Talks are said to be in the early stages and Brink hears that the Bucs are just one of about a “half dozen” teams in the mix. The Rockies declined Cook’s $11 million option late last month.

Cook has experienced some bad luck with injury over the past two seasons, including a broken leg in 2010 and shoulder tendinitis and a broken ring finger in 2011. The 32-year-old right-hander has a brutal 5.49 ERA during the same time period, so he’ll likely have to accept a one-year deal with a low guarantee.

The Pirates tentatively have Jeff Karstens, Kevin Correia, Charlie Morton, James McDonald and Brad Lincoln lined up for their 2012 rotation, though Morton’s recent hip surgery could put him at risk for missing the early part of the season.

Lucas Giolito earns second shutout of season

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The Twins have arguably baseball’s scariest offense. Their average of 5.87 runs per game is second only to the Yankees (5.90) while leading the league in slugging percentage (.501), OPS (.840), and home runs (244). White Sox starter Lucas Giolito made their offense look impotent on Wednesday, blanking them over nine innings for his second shutout of the season. The White Sox won 4-0.

Giolito allowed just three hits and walked none while fanning 12 batters over his nine innings of work. He’s now 14-6 with a 3.20 ERA and a 194/51 K/BB ratio in 151 2/3 innings on the season. Giolito is very much in the AL Cy Young Award picture. The Astros’ Justin Verlander leads the league in ERA at 2.81. A strong finish to the season for Giolito could certainly see his ERA dip below 3.00.

As mentioned, Wednesday’s shutout was Giolito’s second of the season. He and the Indians’ Shane Bieber are the only pitchers with multiple shutouts this season. They are two of only 21 pitchers with a shutout.