Kuhl earns another nod

June 29th, 2016

SEATTLE -- Chad Kuhl is going to stick with the Pirates for a little while longer.

The right-hander, who made his Major League debut on Sunday night and pitched well enough to beat Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers, was penciled in as Pittsburgh's starter for Saturday's game against the A's in Oakland. With staff ace Gerrit Cole still on the disabled list because of a right triceps strain, Kuhl is an intriguing pitcher to keep an eye on, manager Clint Hurdle said.

"We think he's our best option right now," Hurdle said. "Moving forward, we have the rotation spot available, we've committed to [Juan] Nicasio in the 'pen, we'll give [Kuhl] the ball again and see where he can take it."

Kuhl impressed the Pirates on Sunday with five tense innings. He gave up three runs on four hits while striking out five and walking four. He also made a headfirst putout at home plate and hit 96 mph with his fastball.

The 23-year-old right-hander, who is ranked the club's 16th best prospect by MLBPipeline.com, was 6-2 with a 2.58 ERA in 14 starts for Triple-A Indianapolis this year.

"I think there was a lot that went on the other night to filter through and to help build confidence and experience moving forward," Hurdle said. "It was fun and encouraging because he stayed aggressive. He used the pitches he needed to use. The control-the-running-game part of it was in place as well. He kept good pace and rhythm. ... I think there are some things to build upon."

As for Cole, the team's No. 1 starter had a 35-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday in Seattle in which he threw fastballs, breaking balls and changeups. Cole said he felt fine, and Hurdle said the club is pleased that he was able to ramp up from his Sunday session, when he threw 15 pitches and all were fastballs.

"Another step forward today," Hurdle said.

Good eating:Mark Melancon has cousins who live at the foot of Mt. Baker in Washington state, and they gave the Pirates' closer some fresh-smoked snake meat, so he brought it to Safeco Field and offered it up to his teammates.

How many took him up on it?

"It was about 50-50," said Melancon, who also happened to drink snake blood at a night market in Taiwan when he was part of the MLB All-Star Tour following the 2011 season.

What does it taste like?

"I don't know," Melancon said with a laugh. "Maybe like chicken feet."

Worth noting

• The Pirates signed 11th-round Draft pick Max Kranick, a right-hander from Valley View (Pa.) High School. Kranick, MLBPipeline.com's No. 179 Draft prospect, was selected with the 345th overall pick and signed for an over-slot bonus of $300,000, according to MLB.com's Jim Callis. 

Kranick will begin his career with the Gulf Coast League Pirates in Bradenton, Fla. The Pirates have signed 27 of their 41 Draft picks, including 13 of their top 14. High school right-hander Nick Lodolo, the Competitive Balance Round A pick, is their top unsigned selection.

• Infielder Cole Figueroa was claimed off waivers by the Dodgers on Tuesday. Figueroa made the Pirates' Opening Day roster before being designated for assignment on Friday, clearing a roster spot for versatile infield prospect Adam Frazier.

• Cole and the Pirates announced Tuesday that the "Uncork for a Cause" charity program will begin July 24 with an event to raise awareness and funding for Pirates Charities and The Children's Institute. Cole, his fiancee Amy, teammates and guests can attend the gathering at Hyde Park Steakhouse on Pittsburgh's North Shore. General admission is $125 and includes food, an open wine and beer bar and a complimentary bottle of Cole's 2013 Sonoma Reserve Red Wine.