Cole feeling good after longest outing of spring

Right-hander throws 65 pitches in working into the fourth vs. Red Sox

Cole feeling good after longest outing of spring

FORT. MYERS, Fla. -- Gerrit Cole was so pleased to still feel strong at the end of Saturday's 65-pitch outing, he shrugged off the fact two of the pitches went about 800 feet.

"Yeah, I'm glad I got up to the max," Cole said after going the first 3 2/3 innings of the Bucs' 5-2 victory over the Red Sox. "I started to get a little fatigued at the end, so it was nice to still be able to make some quality pitches in the fourth … outside of the one [Mike] Napoli deposited again."

Cole locked in at Pirates camp

Napoli was the only one who crashed Cole's party -- twice. He ripped a 1-2 curve over the southern wall in the second, and two innings later sent it some company on a 2-2 changeup.

"I don't think [the change] was the right pitch to Napoli," Cole said, "but I just went for it and hung it again. So … whatever."

Outlook: Cole, SP, PIT

Cole, one of the top candidates to be the Pirates' Opening Day starter on April 6 in Cincinnati, became the Bucs' first pitcher this spring to work beyond the third inning. Manager Clint Hurdle also downplayed the long balls by Napoli.

"We beat Napoli today, 5-2," Hurdle said. "We wanted Cole to throw between 65 and 70 pitches, so we got that checked off. He was out there to work on specific things: Throw his breaking balls and changeup,and the offside pitches were mostly strikes. It was a good outing for him, on effort, consistency, focus."

Touching all the bases

First: Lefty Clayton Richard hurled two shutout innings for his first victory of any kind since June 16, 2013, shortly before he underwent surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome. In addition to two innings in a "B" game, Richard has fired three blanks in Grapefruit League games.

Second: The John Holdzkom-Arquimedes Caminero duel goes on: The former blanked Boston in the fifth, matching the latter with his fourth scoreless outing of the spring. Each has allowed two hits.

Third: Stetson Allie got the start -- playing first and batting cleanup -- and keyed the go-ahead three-run rally in the eighth with a double.

Home: Starling Marte clocked a double and triple while batting fifth -- which Hurdle strongly hinted would be his regular spot.

"I see him as a run-producer," Hurdle said of his one-time leadoff man, "and he's not gonna be cleanup. So that [fifth] is probably close."

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com 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.