Pirates Notebook: Tracy wants young starters to go distance

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ST. LOUIS -- The Pirates' rotation is awash in uncertainty, even after the additions of Bryan Bullington and John Van Benschoten.

Paul Maholm's stiff back is preventing him from throwing, although he and manager Jim Tracy yesterday described it as improving. He will not pitch until next week at the earliest.

Zach Duke's status is unknown, too. If he does not fare well tomorrow for Class A State College, he will work bullpen duty until he shows he can handle more.

As Tracy put it, "A lot is up in the air."

For now, he will go this way with his starters: Tony Armas will pitch tonight against the St. Louis Cardinals. Bullington will go tomorrow in the series finale, marking his second Major League Baseball appearance and first start. Tom Gorzelanny, Ian Snell and Matt Morris will pitch this weekend against the Chicago Cubs.

Van Benschoten will pitch in long relief until Tracy can "find a start" for him.

Beyond that, just about all Tracy can say for sure is that he has no intention -- health issues aside -- to rest Gorzelanny, Snell or Maholm, even though all three are on pace to surpass their career highs for innings pitched. Gorzelanny has 171 1/3 innings, already 10 more than his previous high set last year. Snell has 182, four fewer than his high. And Maholm has 173, three fewer than his high.

Tracy's reasoning?

"It's important for our young guys to realize that the season is six months long," he said. "With the progress they've already made, you'd like to see that very soon. You want to see them able to pitch these games with a lot of meaning, hopefully, as soon as next year. And, if you're fortunate to get beyond that sixth month, now, all of a sudden, you need even more from those guys."

Nady still woozy

Outfielder Xavier Nady, plunked on the helmet by a fastball Monday, still had a headache and mild dizziness yesterday, but there continued to be no signs of anything serious.

"I'm fine," he said.

Tracy did not say when Nady might return, but he would need to be symptom-free.

Buried treasure

Reliever Dave Davidson, also promoted Monday, cited the dropping of one of his best pitches as one reason for his successful year with Class AA Altoona and Class AAA Indianapolis. A nasty curveball that drew raves in spring training was derailing the mechanics of other pitches, he said, so he replaced it with "kind of a slurve" that kept him more in line. "After the first two months, I never thought about my mechanics."

Outfielder Ryan Doumit took live batting practice for the first time since his left wrist was injured in mid-August.

Reliever Salomon Torres could throw a bullpen session Friday. He did long-tossing from 150 feet yesterday with "no problem."

Luis Munoz, the winningest pitcher in the Pirates' system with a combined 14-6 record between Altoona and Indianapolis, was named Eastern League player of the week after allowing two unearned runs over 13 2/3 innings.


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