New Bucs battery makes most of first pairing

Cole, Cervelli in sync as pitcher finishes with flourish and catcher shows athleticism

New Bucs battery makes most of first pairing

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Bucs plugged in a new battery on Wednesday. Gerrit Cole and his spring ERA both liked the connection.

In the start against the Blue Jays, a 4-1 Pirates loss, Cole was paired in game conditions for the first time with Francisco Cervelli, and the two hit it off well.

"It was good. I told him I wasn't going to shake him off. I wanted to see how he was going to use my stuff, and maybe get a better feel for how he wants to call a game," Cole said following a two-inning stint he finished with a flourish.

Gammons pays a visit to Cole

After issuing a two-out walk in the first to Daric Barton, Cole entered ace mode, retiring the last four men he faced, three on strikes.

He gave up one run in the first -- and only one, thanks to Cervelli. After Dalton Pompey had advanced to third on Dioner Navarro's scoring grounder, Cole buried a pitch to Barton. Cervelli darted to his right to block the ball, keeping Pompey on third, where he remained stranded.

When the play was called Martin-esque -- a reference to the very athletic Russell Martin -- Clint Hurdle's eyes lit up.

"Yeah. We've seen [Cervelli] do it," the manager said. "I first had my eyes on him in 2010 [when Hurdle served as Texas' hitting coach] ... the ability to get in front of the ball, block the ball, keep it in front of the plate. That was very impressive; that's one of his strengths."

Outlook: Cervelli, C, PIT

Of the feeling-out process he and Cervelli went through on Wednesday, Cole noted "it will probably be like that for a little while, then at some point we'll sit down and talk about it."

In his first preseason appearance, Cole was out there to "shake the rust off. I was just excited to get back out there."

"I had a lot of fun and made some adjustments I needed between the first and second innings, so that was nice," he added.

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.