Pitcher Jeff Locke will not make his scheduled start today and also will be unavailable for the All-Star Game Tuesday at Citi Field in New York after experiencing lower-back tightness after his most recent outing, manager Clint Hurdle announced Saturday.
The Pirates believe the injury to be minor and expect him to be available to pitch when the team returns from the All-Star break.
Gerrit Cole will start today against the New York Mets. He is pitching after his usual rest because the Pirates were idle Thursday.
Locke said he felt his back tighten in his seven-inning outing Monday against the Oakland Athletics.
"I don't think it's anything different than normal tiredness at this point in the year," he said.
But he aggravated the injury while lifting weights Tuesday and informed team trainers and team management about his back issue.
"He feels just a little bit off," Hurdle said.
He pitched a scheduled bullpen session Friday, which he said was encouraging as his back tightness mostly had subsided. But he said he does not believe he would be able to get full extension or have full range of motion over a 100-pitch outing. The team will have four off days during the break, and Locke is not scheduled to pitch again until next Sunday.
"To have the type of situation, the physical issue we have, we couldn't have had it at a better time to take care of it," Hurdle said.
Locke still will attend the All-Star Game.
"The only thing I'm disappointed about is not being able to [pitch today]," he said. "It's not one of those things where I can't go [today] but I can go in the All-Star Game. I think that'd be disrespectful to the team."
Locke, 25, is 8-2 with a 2.12 ERA this season. He has never been on the disabled list.
The Pirates announced their starting rotation for the second half of the season, and the team wins and ERA leader will be the first pitcher to take the mound after the All-Star break.
Francisco Liriano will start Friday in Cincinnati against the Reds, followed by A.J. Burnett, Locke, Charlie Morton and Cole. Liriano is 9-3 with a 2.00 ERA since making his season debut May 11.
Hurdle on rising star Davis
Baltimore first baseman Chris Davis is putting on a show this season. Hurdle saw a preview in 2010 as Texas Rangers hitting coach and said he could see then the potential for this type of performance. Davis has slugged a major league-leading 36 home runs this season, as many home runs as Roger Maris had through 93 games in 1961.
"The people that've been on Davis every day have seen this kind of power," Hurdle said.
In 2010, the only year they worked together, Davis hit one home run in 146 plate appearances in the majors. But in that time, Hurdle identified Davis as a "fantastic talent" who had "light-tower power."
But until this season he never found the consistency he is enjoying this season. His career high for homers was 33, which he set in 2012 in 139 games. He never hit more than 36 in a minor league season. Such a jump in production has led many to wonder whether Davis' rise has been aided by performance-enhancing drugs -- an allegation Davis publicly has denied.
"Sometimes, a player wakes up one day with their head on a pillow and gets it," Hurdle said, "not because of a lack of coaching or over-coaching or they're not giving the effort or they're giving too much effort. Sometimes it happens when it's supposed to happen.
"I can't put a date on the day I became a man, truth. Maybe I still don't have a date."
Michael Sanserino: email@example.com, 412-263-1722 and Twitter @msanserino.