Neal Huntington: Gerrit Cole ‘Driven to be Exceptional’


The Neal Huntington Show recap

Pittsburgh Pirates GM Neal Huntington held his weekly radio show with announcer Greg Brown this week.

The Pirates are hosting the Mets today and before the game the team held their annual Team Photo Fest today at PNC Park.  As the show got a late start, Brown commented on just how many fans were on the field before the game.

Brown stalled and mentioned he would talk about Gerrit Cole not getting a rehab start.  Steve Blass had stayed with Brown in the booth and talked about the situtation.  Blass said he didn’t have a choice when he played.  Joe Torre had bruised him with a line shot.  Blass said he wasn’t asked to go on rehab and returned to pitch six innings.  Blass remained very non-commital saying each situation is different, each arm is different and players react in different ways when they return from an injury.

Brown changed the subject to Bartolo Colon when the Bucs GM got in the booth.  Huntington spoke about how powerful Colon was as a starter in Cleveland.  He would be stronger as the game went.  It was pure gas.  Nobody could run on him…essentially a slide step every time.   Had Colon not been traded that year, he probably would have won a Cy Young.  Colon was a great developmental story for the Indians.

Huntington commented on Gerrit Cole not being sent on a rehab assignment.  Brown asked Huntington about the subject.  We cannot make guys go on minor league rehab.  If the player doesn’t want to, he doesn’t have to.  Gerrit had a sim game, got quality feedback from Gaby and Walker.  We watched it (the simulated start by Cole) and signed off on it.

"At the end of the day our hands are tied."

Everything Gerrit threw yesterday was in a nine mile an hour window.  He threw secondary pitches.  Gerrit is primarily a power pitcher.  He threw the curveball last year and it was a weapon, but it served more as a separation from a visual standpoint.  Gerrit is a power pitcher.  We have to get him back there.

He hadn’t competed in 18 days.  It was great for him, yes he struggled, that third inning was lock down, fourth he got through it.  This is a great building block.  He is so intelligent, he is so driven to be exceptional.  Not good.  Not great.  Exceptational.

It was really cool to hear Huntington talk about Cole.  It is obvious that he wants to see Gerrit Cole the power pitcher.  And so does everyone in Pittsburgh.  Let’s trust that happens sooner rather than later.


Huntington commented on the Jason Grilli trade.  We like Jason.  We will never be able to thank him enough.  The energy.  The leadership.  His impact on the clubhouse….the community.  As we looked at the business side, Anaheim wants him to pitch late.  We didn’t take it lightly.  He has an opportunity to pitch late.  We have a guy that has pitched late.  We think we can help Ernesto.

Brown asked about the decision to send Brandon Cumpton to the minors and his reaction.  Brown then added…and Grilli’s reaction  (Brown is a sick man…haha)

Regarding the Brandon Cumpton demotion to AAA.  “Brandon was professional.  He was disappointed.  (NH spoke about the similarity to Jared Hughes and at the end of the comments said…We told him to refine the change up and slider.” )

Regarding the Jason Grilli reaction:  “Jason was more shock.  More disappointment.  The best leaders have impact beyond the time they were there.  Whether it was A.J. or Jason. ”

Brown asked about Pedro Alvarez at the plate, his defensive struggles and possibly moving to first base.

"Pedro cares.  Cares a lot.  Wants to be a threat in the batter box.  The league has made a significant adjustment to Pedro.  The league has studied him.  They have found holes.  Pedro is working to make adjustments back.  He is working awfully hard through his defensive struggles with Nick.  The surface numbers are what they are but he is working hard behind the scenes.  We are a better club with him at third hitting 30 homers.  He has faced a lot of soft stuff.  His exit speed is better, he is hitting more balls hard.  We look beyond the surface numbers and we see positive for Pedro."

Jun 12, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Cole Tucker (left) the Pirates first round selection in the 2014 supplemental draft speaks with Pirates general manager Neal Huntington (right) after signing his contract before the Pirates host the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports