Rodriguez makes more progress on comeback trail

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Pirates pitcher Wandy Rodriguez moved one step closer to returning from the disabled list Friday, but he is still at least a week or two away from pitching in a game.

Rodriguez threw a batting practice session, and, according to manager Clint Hurdle looked good and, more important, was pain-free.

Hurdle said he was encouraged by the session because Rodriguez was able to throw with good velocity and mix in a variety of pitches.

"He threw 35 pitches, fastball, changeup, repeated his delivery with good extension and some downhill angle," Hurdle said. "If he feels good tomorrow, we will have him throw a bullpen Monday in San Diego."

After the bullpen session Monday, the next step is a simulated game against hitters Friday in San Francisco, where the Pirates will play a four-game weekend series against the Giants.

Hurdle said that given it was Rodriguez's first time pitching against live hitters since early June when he was put on the disabled list, it was very productive.

If Rodriguez progresses quickly enough, he will be able to make a rehab start or two in the minors before the Class AAA and Class AA seasons end.

Rodriguez was put on the disabled list June 11 (retroactive to June 6) with left forearm tightness.

Pirates sign Farnsworth

The Pirates agreed to terms with right-handed pitcher Kyle Farnsworth on a minor league deal, and he will report to Indianapolis.

Farnsworth, 37, went 2-0 with a 5.76 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 39 relief appearances with Tampa Bay this season before being designated for assignment then released Aug. 9.

He was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 1994 (47th round) and made his major league debut with the Cubs in 1999. He also has pitched for the Detroit Tigers, Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, Kansas City Royals and Tampa Bay Rays.

He is third in the majors among active pitchers with 849 games pitched, trailing Mariano Rivera (1,098) and LaTroy Hawkins (925). He is 42-62 with 52 saves and a 4.29 ERA in his career.

A different team on road

Arizona is 36-26 at home, 26-31 on the road, which makes them not much different than almost every team in the National League. Many factors contribute to such a disparity, not the least of which is the dimension, shape and size of major league ballparks.

"I do think there is absolutely something to teams being constructed [to suit] to the home field. I do think that is a part of it," Hurdle said. "You build your club that way -- here we are looking for some left-handed bats who can play to the Clemente Wall, and some guys who can live in the gaps because we have a lot of outfield grass. But, at the end of the day, there is a comfort zone at home in a routine in all sports.

"The challenge for pro sports is to win on the road for everybody."

A replay fan

Hurdle said of replay expansion: "We're trying to take a great game and keep it great and we're trying to make sure right calls are made. We're trying to do the best thing for the game and the integrity of the game. So I'm good with where we are right now."

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Paul Zeise:, 412-263-1720 and Twitter @paulzeise.


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