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Cole taken to hospital

June 27, 2012
By Stephen Pianovich ( , The Altoona Mirror

HARRISBURG - They were two defining sounds in a matter of seconds.

First was the loud crack of the bat, as Harrisburg's Destin Hood shot a line drive up the middle in the first inning. Then came the collective "ooh" from the crowd.

Hood's liner was shot right at Gerrit Cole and appeared to deflect off the prized prospect's glove before hitting him below his left ear. Cole was face down on the mound for a few seconds as coaches and trainers hustled out of the dugout to check on him.

Cole got up and remained in the contest after initial evaluation. He ended the first inning - after allowing three runs on five hits - but afterwards the first overall pick in the 2011 draft left Metro Bank Park and was taken to a nearby hospital.

After the game - which Harrisburg won 8-3 - Curve manager P.J. Forbes said he hadn't heard much on Cole since he departed the stadium.

"They're doing some tests, CT, just to check him out," Forbes said. "I don't know anything more than that."

Fact Box

Covering the bases

LEADING OFF: 3B Stefan Welch was 2-for-5 Tuesday and continues to impress since being called up from High-A Bradenton on June 14. Welch is now 15-for-34 (.441) with one homer and seven RBIs in 10 games for the Curve.

SAFE AT FIRST: LHP Nathan Baker replaced RHP Gerrit Cole after the first inning. Baker, who began the season in the Curve's starting rotation, made his fourth appearance in relief of and gave up on one run on five hits in four innings.

STEALING SECOND: Former Curve RHP Bronson Arroyo, who now pitches for the Cincinnati Reds, flirted with a no-hitter against Milwaukee on Tuesday. Arroyo didn't allow a hit until Taylor Green doubled with one out in the eighth inning, and he ended up giving up three runs on three hits in 7 2/3 innings.

ROUNDING THIRD: With Pirates C Rod Barajas injured with a bone bruise in his left knee, C Eric Fryer was called up to Pittsburgh from Triple-A Indianapolis. In 37 games with Altoona last year, Fryer hit .345 with five home runs and 16 RBIs.

HEADING HOME: Speaking of former Curve catchers, C Kris Watts was in the lineup for Harrisburg against Altoona on Tuesday. Watts, who played a combined 127 games for the Curve in two seasons (2010 and 2011), was 2-for-3 with three RBIs against his former team.

- Stephen Pianovich

Forbes said Cole was not pleased with the idea of exiting the game so early and wanted to remain in the contest after being hit. After the first inning, Forbes said the swelling was getting worse under Cole's ear and that it was better to be safe than sorry on the decision to pull the right-hander.

"Any time there's any trauma to the head, you want to err on the side of caution, obviously," Forbes said. "He hopped up and said, 'Where's my hat? Where's the ball? Let's go.' It shows how tough of a kid he is."

Cole's night continued to be a tough one after getting hit. He plunked Kris Watts with the next pitch he threw before having another ball - this one off the bat of Sean Nicol - come right back at him, deflecting off his glove and going for an RBI single.

Even though he did retire the first two batters he faced, the final line for Cole, who was making just his second Double-A start, was not pretty. He allowed three runs on five hits, hit a batter and recorded two strikeouts in just one inning. He labored in the frame, throwing 33 pitches, 22 for strikes.

Cole did not return to the ballpark after getting checked out, so he was not available to comment.

It's unclear what will be the next step for Cole, who was rated as the 12th-best prospect in the minor leagues before the season by Baseball America. The Pirates organization is awaiting test results.

"With all the concussion stuff going on in Major League Baseball, he'll go through all the impact tests as we go forward," Forbes said. "Make sure all of that is clear, check the CT scan, make sure that's clear, and make the judgments from there."

While Forbes wasn't exactly sure about how Cole was doing physically after the game, he said he thinks he'll be fine mentally.

"I think his psyche is all right because he got up and finished the inning," Forbes said. "I mean that tells me a lot. He wanted the ball, and he wanted to continue. So I'm sure his big thing is getting back out there and having some more success."

The Senators led the rest of the way after their productive first inning. Zech Zinicola (1-1) didn't allow a run or hit in 1 2/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen to get the win.

The Curve did make things close with two runs on three straight extra-base hits - doubles from Brock Holt and Stefan Welch, and a triple by Matt Curry - in the sixth, to make it a one-run game. But Watts, a former Curve player, hit a two-run double in the bottom half of the inning to put the Senators back up by four.

Game recap

Key player: Harrisburg C Kris Watts was 2-for-3 with three RBIs.

Key play: RHP Gerrit Cole got hit below the left ear by a line drive in the first inning, which eventually forced the No. 1 overall pick from last year's draft to leave the game and be taken to a hospital.

Key stat: The one-inning outing was the shortest of Cole's professional career. His second-shortest start - three innings - came on April 14 when he was with High-A Bradenton.

How they scored

Top 1st: Grossman solo homer (1-0)

Bottom 1st: Valdez singled, scored on Bloxom single (1-1); Pahuta singled, scored on Hood single (1-2); Nicol single scored Bloxom (1-3).

Bottom 2nd: Walters singled, scored on Bloxom single (1-4).

Top 6th: Holt double, scored on Welch double (2-4); Curry triple scored Welch (3-4).

Bottom 6th: Walters singled, scored on Pahuta single (3-5); Hood walked, scored along with Pahuta on Watts double (3-7).

Bottom 8th: Pahuta reached on Maggi error, scored on Watts sacrifice fly (3-8).

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