PHOENIX -- During the next few days, the Pirates must navigate the uncertainty caused by a tight hamstring, a stretch of 20 games in a row without a day off and a possible impending roster move.
The Pirates had not received the results from the MRI exam on left-handed pitcher Wandy Rodriguez's left hamstring by Tuesday evening. It tightened on him in the third inning Monday night, forcing him to make an early exit.
As manager Clint Hurdle and his staff decide their next step, they must wait for Rodriguez's condition to be clarified while keeping the workload of the rest of the rotation under consideration.
A.J. Burnett will start Friday at home against the Cincinnati Reds, Hurdle said, and Jeff Locke will start Saturday. James McDonald will open the series Monday against the St. Louis Cardinals, also at home, and Jonathan Sanchez will start Tuesday. Each pitcher will start on five days of rest, one more than usual.
Pirates vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, 3:40 p.m., Chase Field, Phoenix.
- TV, radio:
Root Sports, KDKA-FM (93.7)
LHP Jonathan Sanchez (0-1, 5.40 ERA) vs. LHP Wade Miley (1-0, 1.50).
- Key matchup:
Sanchez vs. Miguel Montero, who is 5 for 12 with two home runs against Sanchez in his career.
- Hidden stat:
Sanchez walked only one batter in five innings in his previous start.
"I have every inclination to keep McDonald and Sanchez in place [against] St. Louis," Hurdle said. "I don't want to move them up to them having four days' rest. We want everybody that pitches as we walk into this next 20-game set to have an extra day."
That leaves Sunday open, and the Pirates are waiting to see if Rodriguez can pitch Sunday before making a decision.
"We'll just take Wandy one day at a time, and, obviously, we'll know closer to this weekend whether he's going to be able to go Sunday or not," Hurdle said. "If he doesn't, we'll anticipate a spot start and go from there."
Hurdle said the team would consider both pitchers already on the roster. That includes Jeanmar Gomez, Chris Leroux or Justin Wilson, who are all stretched out to some degree. The team also would consider a spot starter from Class AAA Indianapolis, and the Indianapolis starter whose spot in the rotation falls Sunday is left-hander Andy Oliver.
Oliver, who started Tuesday for the Indians, joined the Pirates in a trade from the Detroit Tigers in December. He allowed two hits in six scoreless innings, walked three and struck out six in his first start for Indianapolis. Oliver is on the 40-man roster.
Brandon Inge, on a rehabilitation assignment in Indianapolis after an incomplete fracture in his right scapula forced him to start the season on the disabled list, is eligible to be activated today. The Pirates don't have to activate Inge today, and Hurdle said any move involving Inge would not affect pitching situation.
"He is making progress," Hurdle said. "The defensive side of it has been very, very good, especially at second base. Offensively, he's starting to get a lot more consistency and quality to his at-bats."
Next step for Liriano
Left-hander Francisco Liriano, rehabilitating a broken right humerus, will throw two innings in a simulated game today, Hurdle said. "This is a situation we've never dealt with," Hurdle said. "We're just trying to get feedback from him every time he goes out there, how strong he feels on that side, what he's feeling on that side. He's going to have to pick up a bat at some time and do that.""
Bill Brink: email@example.com and Twitter @BrinkPG. First Published April 10, 2013 4:00 AM