- Associated Press - Friday, February 19, 2016

BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) - On the first day of spring training, Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole already was behind schedule.

Due to inflammation on his right ribcage, Cole was limited to flat-ground throwing on Friday when pitchers and catchers held their first mandatory workout at Pirate City.

Cole is expected to throw from the slope of the mound on Monday.

“It’s just a modified throwing program at this point,” Cole said. “I’m not too far behind everybody else, but I feel good.”

Pirates head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk said Cole was injured while training in mid-January.

“It was not a fall or a break or anything,” Cole said. “It was something that kept nagging. It just got to a point where we needed to take a step back in order to come here and have both feet on the ground and move forward.”

Last season, Cole went 19-8 with a 2.60 ERA and finished fourth in Cy Young Award voting. He started the wild-card playoff game and gave up four runs in five innings in the 4-0 loss against the Chicago Cubs

This year, Cole and left-hander Francisco Liriano are the top two arms in the starting rotation. The Pirates acquired left-hander Jon Niese from the New York Mets in December and also signed 38-year-old Ryan Vogelsong. Jeff Locke, who went 8-11 with a 4.49 ERA, will be the No. 5 starter.

Top pitcher prospects Tyler Glasnow and Jameson Taillon are ticketed to start the season at Triple-A Indianapolis. Taillon, a former first-round pick, has been out since 2013 due to Tommy John and hernia surgeries.

Other depth options for the Pirates include Kyle Lobstein, Wilfredo Boscan and Juan Nicasio.

Cole said he is not worried about not being ready for the start of the season.

“Every time you get hurt or have a setback like this, you end up starting at ground zero and learn something about your body,” Cole said. “You end up coming out the back end better for it.”

___

NOTES: LHP Jesse Biddle (elbow surgery) is in camp, but he won’t begin flat-ground throwing until March. … OF Antoan Richardson is recovering from foot surgery and won’t begin baseball activities until mid-March.

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