Pirates notebook: Rodriguez's next step unclear

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Seeking an additional opinion before continuing Wandy Rodriguez's rehabilitation, the Pirates reached out to orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews and will wait for his input before deciding on their next step.

Rodriguez, on the disabled list since early June because of pain in his left forearm, threw 67 pitches in five innings against Pirates batters Thursday at PNC Park.

"We're on hold," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We're still accumulating some information."

Rodriguez visited Andrews for a second opinion on his left forearm after what was described as tightness prevented him from returning. Earlier this month, Rodriguez said Andrews diagnosed arthritis in Rodriguez's left elbow.

"We were planning on having a conversation with [Andrews] each step of the way," Hurdle said. "Our training staff, we had reached out to him.

"As we continue to work together on his recovery and return to pitch, we're making sure that he's included and, at least, thoughts are shared."

The Pirates' minor league affiliates are no longer playing, so they have nowhere to send Rodriguez to face hitters.

Keeping an eye on Cole

Including Gerrit Cole's start today, he is in line to make three more before the end of the regular season. A day off Sept. 26 likely prevents him from starting in the final series in Cincinnati against the Reds, but Hurdle said the Pirates have no definitive plans of yet.

"There was some dependence upon Jeff Locke's outing [Thursday] night," Hurdle said. "That's probably given us a little better direction on how we want to move forward. We'll see if Charlie [Morton is] able to go ahead and push through that start and be competitive out there. That will add some information that we're going to need."

Cole, on the one hand a rookie who just turned 23 but on the other hand a 6-foot-4, 240-pound right-hander, has pitched 1661/3 innings this season. He threw 132 innings in minor league play in 2012, plus some additional innings in the fall instructional league.

Hurdle referenced general manager Neal Huntington's comments to Fox Sports recently, saying "[Huntington] spelled out Cole's situation, what we're capable of having him do if need be. Making starts through the end of the season, through the end of the postseason if he's one of our four best starters. If not, we'd look at a different opportunity, see if there's any value of him pitching out of the bullpen."

The Pirates entered their game Friday night against the Chicago Cubs tied with the St. Louis Cardinals for the National League Central Division lead, but Hurdle said changes in the standings could further affect plans for Cole, who has a 2.51 ERA over his past five starts, each of which have lasted six or more innings.

Marte update

When Starling Marte returns to the lineup, Hurdle said, he will regain his position in left field and atop the batting order. The Pirates, however, are no closer to knowing when that will happen because Marte continues to feel pain in his right hand when he swings a bat.

Hurdle said Marte planned to take batting practice Friday, one day after facing Rodriguez in his simulated game.

"We're trying to find another option for some live BP that we're comfortable with to ramp up some opportunity to get back," Hurdle said.


Bill Brink: bbrink@post-gazette.com and on Twitter @BrinkPG.


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