Pirates notebook: Rodriguez throws off mound at long last

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The Pirates got good news Wednesday when pitcher Wandy Rodriguez threw off a mound for the first time since experiencing tightness in his left forearm that has kept him on the disabled list since June 6.

"I feel good," Rodriguez said. "I don't know if I'm 100 percent ready, but I can say that I feel good."

Rodriguez, a left-handed starter, spent the past 21/2 weeks playing long toss while trying to build up his arm strength. All the while, he told reporters he wasn't sure how his injury had healed because he didn't have a chance to throw the ball hard.

Rodriguez said Wednesday he amped up his velocity.

Today's game

  • Game:

    Pirates vs. Miami Marlins, 12:35 p.m., PNC Park.

  • TV, Radio:

    Root Sports, KDKA-FM (93.7).

  • Probable starters:

    RHP Gerrit Cole (5-5, 3.69 ERA) vs. RHP Jose Fernandez (8-5, 2.54).

  • Key matchup:

    Cole vs. Fernandez, who won first meeting July 28 between these two hard-throwing 2011 draft picks.

  • Hidden stat:

    After the game today, the Pirates are scheduled to play 13 of their next 16 games away from PNC Park.

"It was a real good day for Wandy," manager Clint Hurdle said.

Rodriguez will throw a bullpen session Saturday, and he hopes to have a better idea if he will be healthy enough to start a more regimented rehabilitation schedule. Even if he responds well to that session, he still will be more than a month away from returning to the Pirates rotation.

Rodriguez threw off the mound to mainly work on his follow-through, he said.

"I threw it a little bit hard," he said, "but not 100 percent."

His potential return would bolster a starting rotation that has carried the Pirates to first place in the National League Central Division but currently lacks depth. Brandon Cumpton, who has made four spot starts for the Pirates this season, was not invited to spring training this year because he started the year ranked 12th on the team's depth chart.

In 12 starts this season, Rodriguez has gone 6-4 with a 3.59 ERA.

Lambo remains in minors

Pirates minor league outfielder Andrew Lambo hit his 30th and 31st home run this season Tuesday night, 17 of them coming since his promotion to Class AAA Indianapolis in June.

But Hurdle indicated a promotion to the majors is not imminent as the Pirates will wait until the conclusion of the upcoming six-game road trip before re-evaluating their roster.

"We might look to either stand pat or to add," Hurdle said. "But we want to get this nucleus of men who are doing the things they are doing right now a little more opportunity to play together."

Hurdle said the Pirates, ideally, would like to give Jose Tabata and Alex Presley a chance to get more at-bats and time in the field before looking to Lambo.

"If you make a decision to bring another player up and put him in front of those guys, you're obviously sending a different message to those guys," Hurdle said.

Entering Tuesday, Lambo was hitting .273 with a .606 slugging percentage in 54 games with Indianapolis. Tabata was hitting .270 with a .399 slugging percentage in 65 games with the Pirates while Presley was hitting .279 with a .426 slugging percentage in 24 games.

Travis Snider, on the disabled list with turf toe in his left foot, has a .219 batting average and a .322 slugging percentage this season.

Picky, picky ...

Pirates rookie catcher Tony Sanchez had another major league first Tuesday -- caught in the act by TV cameras before sports blog Deadspin published a video of the incident on its web site.

So what was Sanchez's offense? He was picking his nose in the Pirates dugout. Or, as Deadspin put it, "Pirate plunders his own nasal passage."

"Don't pretend like you guys don't love digging deep," Sanchez responded Tuesday night on Twitter. "No one likes a liar."

Wednesday, Sanchez said he had no bone to pick -- or anything else -- with the Deadspin treatment.

"If I wasn't so secure in who I am, we'd have a problem," he said.

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Michael Sanserino: msanserino@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1722 and Twitter @msanserino. First Published August 8, 2013 4:00 AM


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