Pirates starter Wandy Rodriguez pitching against the Braves at PNC Park.
By Bill Brink Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
DENVER -- Wandy Rodriguez threw his first bullpen session Saturday since his setback in late June and made incremental progress toward his eventual return to competition.
Rodriguez, whose stay on the DL because of left forearm tightness has passed the two-month mark, threw 25 fastballs and changeups at Coors Field before the Pirates played the Colorado Rockies Saturday night.
"No problems," he said.
Rodriguez is tentatively scheduled to throw another bullpen session Wednesday in St. Louis.
"It won't be finalized until we know how he feels tomorrow from throwing today, that's what we kind of laid out as the plan moving forward," manager Clint Hurdle said.
Rodriguez said he did not throw at full effort and would not know how his arm responded until today, but was pleased for the time being.
"I was scared of my arm, because I didn't want to feel pain again," he said. "I want to feel comfortable for my arm. I feel good."
Rodriguez made a rehab start with Class AAA Indianapolis June 23 but was shut down June 29 because of continued pain in the forearm.
Hurdle has said Rodriguez will not be ready by the time the rosters expand Sept. 1. Because Rodriguez is on the DL, he is eligible for the postseason roster despite not being on the active roster by the Aug. 31 deadline.
Harrison answers new call
Despite the disadvantages Josh Harrison faced when he took the mound Friday night -- lobbing fastballs in the mid-60s toward professional hitters at Coors Field with two men on base -- he had one thing working for him.
"I know I've been on the other side where I've had to face a position player," he said, "and it's never an easy feeling because you don't want to get out."
Harrison, a utility player, relieved Jared Hughes in the eighth inning Friday night with two on, two out and the Pirates down, 10-1. He forced pinch-hitter Corey Dickerson to fly out and end the inning.
Hurdle, a former Rockies manager, has a keen idea of the dangers of summoning relievers in blowouts at Coors Field.
"You send that other reliever out, what you don't count on is him taking a line drive off the shin," Hurdle said. "I've seen that happen. So that guy goes out. Now another guy comes in. The next guy comes in and throws 35 pitches to get one out. You've lost two guys for the next day."
Harrison said he had not pitched since before high school, but had said he could handle it if asked.
"When [Hurdle] met me on the mound, he said, 'All right, I never thought I would have to have this talk with you here on the mound,' " Harrison said. "Go get them."
Rotation plans pending
Hurdle said the Pirates are discussing their rotation for the upcoming series against the St. Louis Cardinals, although he said Charlie Morton will start the first game of the series Tuesday.
Gerrit Cole could start Wednesday after an extra day of rest because there is no game Monday. The Pirates also could skip him and start Francisco Liriano and A.J. Burnett Wednesday and Thursday after their regular rest.
"We've got a couple different discussions going on," Hurdle said.