Pirates Notebook: Rodriguez targets Thursday for return to mound

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CHICAGO -- Pirates starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez said Friday he hopes to avoid a trip to the disabled list.

Rodriguez left his outing Wednesday with a left elbow/forearm injury after recording one out. After flying Wednesday to Pittsburgh for further tests, Rodriguez said there is no structural damage to his elbow. Instead, the tests revealed inflammation.

"Right now, I feel normal," Rodriguez said. "It's when I throw."

The Pirates pushed back Rodriguez's next start from Tuesday to Thursday to give him a couple extra days to try to reduce the inflammation. He is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Monday at PNC Park that, if it goes well, will keep him on track to start Thursday. If he is unable to pitch, he will likely go on the disabled list, manager Clint Hurdle said.

"He wants to see if he can push through this, knowing now that there's nothing wrong," Hurdle said. "We're anticipating working through this. The DL would always be a possibility, but we're going to give that more time."

Hurdle said Rodriguez advised the team before his last start of some lingering elbow soreness, but he believed he would still be able to pitch. After hitting Freddie Freeman with a pitch, Rodriguez left the game, pointing to his left forearm as he flexed it.

"He feels that he was compromised and compromised the team," Hurdle said. "He felt bad about having to leave in the first."

Draft continues

On the second day of the MLB first-year player draft, the Pirates selected five pitchers, two shortstops and a college outfielder many scouts believe possesses first-round talent.

With their first pick of the day, the Pirates took LSU center fielder JaCoby Jones in the third round with the 87th overall pick. Jones struggled with consistency at LSU and had a high strikeout rate but could be a good find if the Pirates can convert his raw talent to skill.

The Pirates selected two high schoolers: fifth-round pick Trae Arbet, a shortstop from California, and eighth-round pick Neil Kozikowski, a right-handed pitcher from Connecticut. The other six players were college juniors.

Fourth-round pick Cody Dickson, from Sam Houston State, is the lone left-hander of the five pitchers the Pirates took Friday. And at 6 feet 3, 180 pounds, he could develop more power with a professional training and nutrition program.

The draft concludes today with rounds 11-40, beginning at 1 p.m.

More issues for McDonald

James McDonald (shoulder inflammation) struggled in a rehabilitation outing Thursday for Class AAA Indianapolis, allowing three earned runs on four hits in 32/3 innings.

"Challenges," Hurdle said. "Not so much health related, just challenges. Command challenges, control the running game challenges. The team stole seven bases."

McDonald, who struggled with the Pirates before going on the disabled list, threw 77 pitches, 45 for strikes, walking one batter and hitting another.

"You'd like to see him get deeper than that, especially with the volume of pitches," Hurdle said. "He's just got to keep working."

Bearing down on Chicago

In seven games against the Cubs, the Pirates have accumulated a 1.71 team ERA. And after dropping two of the first three games against the Cubs this year, the Pirates have won the past four.

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Michael Sanserino: msanserino@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1722 and Twitter @msanserino.


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