May 29, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) in the first inning of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Gerrit Cole nearing return for Pittsburgh Pirates

Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole could be ready from his stint on the DL for a return to the mound by the end of this week. After an encouraging bullpen session in Miami, it appears the Pirates won’t have to extend Cole’s stay beyond Thursday, when the former first overall pick is eligible to return from an injury that’s been described as ‘shoulder fatigue’.

Trib-Live Sports initially reported that Cole could ready soon after his latest session: “Cole threw all of his pitches in a 34-pitch bullpen session at Marlins Park. Cole said his shoulder felt ‘good’ afterward and was generally pleased with the execution of his pitches.”

This is great news for a surging Bucs squad that has now won 16 of its last 25 games to climb back within a game of .500. The team had sunk as low as nine games below .500 before mid-May. Now in a wide open NL Central division, last year’s Cinderella team in the MLB stands to make a run at the top of the division once more, where they sit 6.5 games behind the surprising Milwaukee Brewers. The team sits two games outside of wild card position.

The Pirates take Monday off before hosting the Cincinnati Reds for a three game stand. If Cole was to start Thursday, it would be a 12:30PM start at PNC Park.

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