"It's encouraging that he's back out there," Tomczyk said. "You always take a pause when someone experiences discomfort, soreness, whatever it might be, and then once they show a pain-free clinical exam and can demonstrate to you that they're ready, you push forward."
The Pirates have gone 2-8 in Cole's absence, including the loss to the Cardinals on June 10 that Cole left in the third inning.
Playing some catch
Catcher Francisco Cervelli, recovering from surgery to repair a broken hamate bone in his left hand, has resumed some baseball activities, excluding those involving gripping with his left hand.
Cervelli can now swing a bat with his right hand.
"We're focusing on all the things he can do without receiving and catching for the time being," Tomczyk said.
In the meantime, the Pirates are carrying three catchers with Chris Stewart, Erik Kratz and Jacob Stallings all on the roster. Stewart, usually Cervelli's backup, started Wednesday but has dealt with his own injuries as of late.
Stewart sat out Saturday through Monday with a sore left knee but entered Tuesday's game as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning. How Stewart feels Thursday will determine if the Pirates make any roster moves.
"This will be the test today," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said before Wednesday's game. "He's going to play, and we'll get him through the game and find out how he feels tomorrow morning."
Left-hander Kyle Lobstein was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis on Wednesday. Right-hander Wilfredo Boscan, who gave up seven runs in Tuesday's 15-4 loss, was optioned to Triple-A.
Around the horn
• Ryan Vogelsong continues his recovery after taking a 92 mph fastball to the face May 23. He had surgery to repair multiple facial fractures June 2, is now seeing 20-20 and has been throwing but not catching the ball.
Vogelsong threw off the slope in front of the mound Wednesday, according to Tomczyk. The decision to not let Vogelsong receive the ball is more cautionary on Tomczyk's part rather than hesitance on Vogelsong's.
"That's probably more of my paranoia right now," Tomczyk said. "We're not worried about him catching. Catching's like riding a bike for these guys."
• Left fielder Starling Marte was not in Wednesday's starting lineup after leaving Tuesday's game with left foot discomfort. Marte appeared to take a bad step when chasing a ball down in the outfield.
• Pitcher Nick Kingham, the Pirates' No. 6 prospect, is throwing off a mound in Bradenton, Fla., after undergoing Tommy John surgery last May.
• Catcher Elias Diaz, who underwent right elbow surgery in May, will hopefully begin throwing to bases soon, according to Tomczyk.