Right-hander Gerrit Cole will have his hands full pitching to a powerful lineup when the Pirates square off against the Blue Jays on Friday to open a three-game Interleague series at PNC Park.
The Blue Jays are a power-hitting club with limited team speed. Toronto's 32 home runs are tied for second in the American League -- but Cole and the Bucs will see a new dimension this weekend.
Second baseman Chris Getz, who was recently called up from Triple-A Buffalo, has a track record for stealing bases. Manager John Gibbons said he would love to see that element shine through again as Toronto looks to become multi-dimensional on offense. Getz was 25-for-27 in steals for the White Sox in 2009, and went 15-of-17 for Kansas City in 2010 before swiping 16-of-19 for the Royals last year.
"When you look at Chris' percentage of steals, he's one of the best," Gibbons said.
Cole will look to build upon his previous two outings, in which he allowed just two earned runs over 15 innings. He was a tough-luck loser in his last start, tossing seven innings of one-run ball last Friday against the Cardinals, who scored the game's only run in the first inning.
"[This is] why you play 162 of these," Cole said following the loss. "Stuff happens, and it doesn't always go your way."
Toronto righty Brandon Morrow, who unlike Cole, wants to quickly forget about his previous start. Morrow walked a career-high eight and surrendered four earned runs in 2 2/3 innings to take the loss against the Red Sox last Saturday. His ERA rose nearly a full point to 6.04.
Blue Jays: Cabrera likely to play this weekend
The Blue Jays are optimistic they'll have left fielder Melky Cabrera available for their series in Pittsburgh.
Cabrera sustained a left shin contusion after being hit by a Danny Duffy pitch on Wednesday in Kansas City. X-rays were negative, but Cabrera was held out of the lineup on Thursday.
"He's doing better," Gibbons said. "He probably could go [Friday]. The pitch got him pretty good, but there was no crack or anything. You never know when a guy goes down like that."
Cabrera set a Blue Jays team record for March/April hits with 41. He enters the Pittsburgh series with a .342 batting average, which ranks third in the American League.
Pirates: Wandy watch still on
Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez threw 3 1/3 innings and 73 pitches on a rehab assignment at Double-A on Thursday and said he felt fine after. But Pirates manager Clint Hurdle will reserve judgment on how Rodriguez is progressing until Friday, and for good reason.
"The last time this flared up, it flared up the day after he pitched," Hurdle said before Thursday's doubleheader against the Orioles. "We'll know more tomorrow."
Rodriguez, who is 0-2 with a 7.65 ERA in four starts, was placed on the disabled list on April 21. He also had an MRI and had fluid drained from his right knee before going on the DL.
• The Blue Jays have now posted back-to-back losing records in March/April. They went 12-15 this season after a 10-17 mark in 2013. It's the first time that has happened since 2002-04.
Joe Popely is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.