Gerrit Cole made his fourth appearance of the spring Sunday, but this start marked the first time starting catcher Russell Martin was behind the plate.
Asked what it was like, the Pirates' top pitching prospect answered, "It was good. Hopefully I can work with him a lot more."
That won't happen immediately this season since he will begin the year with Class AAA Indianapolis, but the reunion is probably not far off, especially if Cole pitches like he did Sunday. Against a Baltimore Orioles lineup featuring Brian Roberts and Matt Wieters, Cole allowed two runs on two hits in four innings, walking one and striking out two in a 5-2 Pirates win at Ed Smith Stadium.
A home run from Ryan Flaherty after his only walk accounted for both runs. Flaherty hit a 2-0 fastball to right-center field in the fourth.
"I fell behind him and I had to make a good pitch, and I made a good pitch," Cole said. "I'm pumping fastballs all day, they're bound to catch up to one of them."
Cole will start the season in Indianapolis, but depending on his performance -- and how long the Pirates wait to start the clock on his major league service time, which affects the date he is eligible for salary arbitration and eventually free agency -- he could reach Pittsburgh in midseason. When he does, he'll have a fan.
"He's a smart kid," Martin said. "Of course he's got ability like not a lot of people have, but he's pitching out there with his mind and he has a plan. I feel like he's pretty polished for a young guy."

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