Pirates notebook: Huntington eyes more relief for wild-card game vs. Reds

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CINCINNATI -- The Pirates are keeping most of their wild-card roster plans a secret. But general manager Neal Huntington indicated the Pirates are leaning toward carrying more relief pitchers than usual for a wild-card game Tuesday against the Cincinnati Reds.

The Pirates will include Francisco Liriano and Gerrit Cole on their 25-man roster, and they likely will include seven, eight or even nine relievers, Huntington said.

"We've got a bullpen that's been really good," Huntington said.

That framework is similar to the one the Cardinals used for their wild-card roster in 2012, when they beat the Braves on the road. St. Louis brought just two starters to the game but had eight relief pitchers -- one more than teams typically carry during the regular season.

Atlanta carried three starters and six relievers and loaded up on bench players. Both teams carried three catchers -- something Huntington said the Pirates are considering.

The Pirates have until 10 a.m. Tuesday to finalize their wild-card roster. Should they advance, they can piece together an entirely different roster for a National League Division Series.

Locke out

One player who will not make the wild-card roster -- or any postseason roster -- is starter Jeff Locke, who has been shut down for the season, Huntington said.

"Physically, there's no injury," Huntington said. "It's been a long year for him, a challenging year for him."

Locke was an All-Star this year after going 8-2 with a 2.15 ERA in the first half of the season. But in the second half, he went 2-5 with a 6.15 ERA.

"It's disappointing, but at the same time, truthfully, it's probably what's best," Locke said. "I know I contributed toward the team, but toward the back end of the second half, it became like I was fighting myself more than anything. ... It's a very special time for everybody in here, I guess it's just a little disappointing."

Latos out, too

Reds pitcher Mat Latos, who was originally scheduled to start Tuesday in the wild-card game, will not be available to pitch in any capacity after telling the team Saturday he has a bone chip in his elbow that is causing him pain.

Reds manager Dusty Baker said Latos told the team he would be willing to pitch in relief, if necessary. But the Reds frowned on that idea.

"I don't think we're going to take a chance," Baker said.

After Latos disclosed the injury, the Reds tabbed Johnny Cueto to start against the Pirates in the wild-card game. Should the Reds advance, Baker said he hoped Latos would be able to start Game 1 of the NLDS.

Phillips should be OK

Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, who left the game Saturday early after fouling a ball off his shin, should be able to play Tuesday, Baker said.

"Hopefully they get the swelling out," he said.

X-rays on Phillips' left shin showed no breaks, and the All-Star second baseman has been receiving treatment ever since the injury.

Gift jerseys

After his first season managing the Pirates, Clint Hurdle got a gift from his kids -- a Ben Roethlisberger jersey.

When Steelers great Jack Lambert read that, he gave Hurdle a gift -- an autographed jersey of his own.

"He had read somewhere where my kids had given me a Roethlisberger jersey and said, 'That's all good, but you're 55. You need to be in a Lambert jersey,'" Hurdle said.

Lambert's jersey came with specific instructions: Don't hang it up. Wear it.

So Hurdle wore his Lambert Steelers jersey on the Pirates' final road trip of the season, where players were encouraged to wear jerseys of their favorite NFL teams. And maybe one day, Hurdle will return Lambert's gift with a signed jersey of Hurdle's No. 13 Pirates jersey.

"We'll wait a little bit," Hurdle said. "His street [credibility] is a lot more solid than mine is in the city of Pittsburgh. We'll wait on that."


Michael Sanserino: msanserino@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1722 and Twitter @msanserino. First Published September 30, 2013 4:00 AM


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