Liriano, Morton nearing return


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MILWAUKEE -- The Pirates are set to activate two injured pitchers in the next two weeks, and their additions will create a quandary for management.

Manager Clint Hurdle said Francisco Liriano (fractured humerus) likely will be ready to return May 11 against the New York Mets, and Charlie Morton (Tommy John surgery) likely will be ready to return May 14 against the Brewers. But before they can be activated from the disabled list, the Pirates will have to decide which players will stay in the starting rotation and which players will stay on the active roster.

"The best guys are going to pitch," Hurdle said. "And we'll have a very interesting decision to make here sooner than later."

With two days off in the next week, the Pirates have a chance to reshuffle their rotation and don't need to use a fifth starter until, conveniently enough, May 11 in New York.

"We've got some options in front of us with these two off days," Hurdle said.

A.J. Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez are locks to remain in the rotation. And though Jeff Locke has options remaining, his strong play boosts his chances of sticking around.

James McDonald struggled the first month of the season, going 2-2 with a 5.76 ERA. His lack of command has spiked his walk rate and WHIP to career highs, though six starts is a relatively small sample size.

But McDonald is out of options, and his talent is too much for the Pirates to part with him.

Hurdle said Jeanmar Gomez, had a chance to earn more starts with a strong performance Wednesday. He allowed three runs, two earned, on four hits in four innings.

Tabata injured

Jose Tabata, who left Wednesday's game after stealing second base in the eighth inning, said he felt his left hamstring tighten on the play. He will be evaluated today.

Tabata has a history of injuries to both legs, including a prior left hamstring injury.

Team official apologizes

Director of baseball communications Jim Trdinich apologized after a Facebook status he wrote Tuesday night appeared on Deadspin.com.

"I apologize to the Brewers and Pirates organizations, as well as everyone else associated with the [c]lubs who I offended with my irresponsible comments," Trdinich said in an email. "They were made on my personal Facebook page and in no way, shape or form do they represent the views of the Pirates organization. I love the Pirates and let those emotions get the best of me. However, there is no excuse for it and I deeply regret my mistake."

In the Facebook post picked up by Deadspin, Trdinich wrote, "Miller Park is a freaking joke of a stadium. And the Brewers have to be doing some illegal [expletive] there."

Waiting on Walker

Friday will be a decision day for the Pirates and second baseman Neil Walker, who got a deep cut to his right hand last week when he was cleated by St. Louis shortstop Pete Kozma. It took six stitches to suture the wound from sliding into second base to break up a double play.

If Walker has not progressed enough by Friday, the Pirates might look to make a roster move to shore up their bench depth. Walker said earlier this week he expected to have his stitches removed Saturday.

Snider could start Saturday

Travis Snider, who has not started a game since Friday after experiencing tightness in his right side, likely will be back in the starting lineup Saturday against Washington Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg.

Bullpen help on the way

Jose Contreras (Tommy John surgery) likely will join the Pirates Friday. He will take the 40-man roster spot left vacant by Jonathan Sanchez, but the Pirates will have to make a move to the 25-man roster.

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Michael Sanserino: msanserino@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1722 and Twitter @msanserino. First Published May 2, 2013 4:00 AM


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