ARI@PIT: Cole strikes out five over six strong frames

PITTSBURGH -- Gerrit Cole will soon be called into Pirates manager Clint Hurdle's office, not to hear criticism of his brief fourth-inning meltdown Friday nor praise for his overall effectiveness in the Pirates' 6-2 victory.

No, the rookie right-hander will be briefed on the next stages of the Bucs' plan to conserve his innings and pitches, yet have him available as a postseason weapon.

Cole totaled 132 Minor League innings as a first-year pro last season, and Friday's six-inning outing put him at 140 this season. Cole confirmed there is no red-line number of innings or pitches that he will be kept under, but he understands there will be some reins.

"And I'm OK with that. They [pitching coach Ray Searage and Hurdle] are openly communicating with me, letting me know what's going on," Cole said. "Doing things to extend my season is fine; I just don't want to be distracted by having to keep track of innings or pitches while I'm on the mound."

The Cole plan is fluid; Hurdle and staff regularly discuss his situation, looking for ways that best serve him and the team. There seem to be two locked-in elements: Cole will be skipped around every scheduled off-day (three remain, the next is Aug. 26), when that can be done without affecting the other starters; and he would pitch out of the bullpen in the postseason.

Following that agenda, Cole would have five starts remaining, putting his innings load approximately at 170 innings, including the 68 at Triple-A Indianapolis prior to his June 11 callup.

Worth noting

Jeff Karstens played catch on Friday, exactly 10 weeks following the shoulder surgery from which doctors said recovery would take 10-12 weeks. Karstens, who had come to town for medical evaluations of the joint's strength, again threw flat-ground on Saturday and will return to Pirate City on Monday to continue the throwing progression laid out for him.

Jason Grilli (right forearm) also had a couple rounds of throws from 90 then 100 feet and, after a one-day break, plans to stretch out to 120 feet during the upcoming visit to San Diego. Beyond that, if he continues to make good progress, his return to mound work could be scheduled.

First number, last word

2: Home runs allowed by Pirates pitching in the last 14 games entering Saturday's action -- by Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki (Aug. 2) and Miami's Christian Yelich (Aug. 8), both hit off Gerrit Cole.

"It told me I've got to do something, and I've continued to work very hard, with the coaches and in the video room." -- Jose Tabata, on the Pirates going down to the non-waiver Trade Deadline wire searching for a right-handed hitting outfielder -- his own job description.