ST. LOUIS -- Running out of options with their injured players, the Pirates might soon activate pitcher Wandy Rodriguez and outfielder Starling Marte and employ them in a limited role.
The Pirates had members of their baseball operations staff at Rodriguez's rehab start Friday night with Class AAA Indianapolis, which trailed Durham in the International League playoffs, 2-0. Low Class A West Virginia and short-season Jamestown were still playing as of Friday, but manager Clint Hurdle indicated that the Pirates would rather activate Rodriguez.
"If [Indianapolis doesn't] play any longer, we don't have any other opportunity to pitch anywhere but here," Hurdle said. "You grab that and you deal with that. And then maybe you look for an opportunity where you might roll the dice and start him. You might piggyback him with somebody else, you might piggyback him behind a starter that gets knocked out early."
Rodriguez, on the 60-day disabled list because of left forearm tightness, has not pitched in the majors since early June. If he returns, he would not be stretched out for a full start, although the expanded roster means the Pirates have the bullpen options to help Rodriguez.
"You're going to have to get creative is what you're going to have to do," Hurdle said.
Marte, on the 15-day DL because of a contusion and sprained ligament in his right hand, started swinging two-handed Thursday. The Pirates might have some of their relievers pitch to Marte at game speed to ease his return to the field.
"He's ramped up all the running, the baserunning," Hurdle said. "His outfield play was very good in Milwaukee. Throwing the ball has increased, he's close with that. We might get to the point here where we just activate him and use him to run."
Marte has not played since Aug. 18.
No bullpen worries
Despite the fact that the Cardinals played 16 innings Wednesday night and used four relievers Thursday, Hurdle said St. Louis' bullpen remained in good shape.
"If you look at the guys that pitched last night, they're the guys that usually pitch when they're behind," he said. "The higher leverage part of the bullpen is rested."
Locke returns today
The Cardinals' issues against left-handed pitchers factored into the decision to send Jeff Locke back to the mound today. The Cardinals have a .672 on-base plus slugging percentage against left-handers this season, which ranks 25th in baseball.
"One of the reasons," Hurdle said. "He pitched a very good game against them earlier this season here."
The Pirates skipped Locke's start in the rotation, meaning he will start today on 10 days of rest. Locke is 1-0 with a 3.27 ERA against the Cardinals in two starts this season, but, in one of those, he allowed four runs on 10 hits in four innings July 31.
"He has a game plan to pull from and a history to pull from on how he needs to go out and attack them to have success," Hurdle said.
Closing in on 20/20
After homering in two consecutive games, Andrew McCutchen entered Friday with 19 home runs and 27 steals. His next home run will give him his third consecutive 20/20 season. The only other two players with 20 homers and 20 steals are the Los Angeles Angels Mike Trout and Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez.pirates
Bill Brink: email@example.com and on Twitter @BrinkPG.