The Pirates' Jeff Locke pitches against the Diamondbacks earlier this month at PNC Park.
By Michael Sanserino Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Pirates optioned All-Star pitcher Jeff Locke and 2009 first-round draft pick Tony Sanchez to Class AA Altoona today to make room on the 25-man roster for Marlon Byrd and John Buck.
After a stellar first half of the season, in which he posted a team-leading 2.15 ERA, Locke has struggled since the All-Star break, posting a 6.18 ERA in eight starts. He has failed to finish six innings in his past six starts.
Byrd and Buck were acquired by the team Tuesday in a trade with the New York Mets.
The Pirates anticipate recalling both players Sept. 3, after Altoona's season ends. The players were optioned to Altoona and not Class AAA Indianapolis because Indianapolis made the playoffs, and they would have to wait at least 10 days or until Indianapolis was knocked out of the playoffs before rejoining the major league roster.
It is unlikely Locke will pitch in Altoona, as the Pirates are using this as an opportunity to give the 25-year-old some rest. The Pirates will need to fill Locke's spot in the rotation Sunday against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Sanchez will see some at-bats in Altoona, manager Clint Hurdle said.
Neither player will be automatically eligible to compete in the postseason, but either could be added to the playoff roster if the Pirates place a player on the disabled list after Aug. 31.