Pirates notebook: Casey Sadler aims to impress, help bullpen

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BALTIMORE -- Casey Sadler was a walk-on at a small junior college in Oklahoma, and didn't have a clue if the major leagues would ever be more than a childhood dream.

He considered himself small for a prospect, saying he didn't throw very hard. There was no trail of scouts tracking his every pitch at Western Oklahoma State College, which was -- in his words -- in the middle of nowhere.

Saturday night, Sadler was told he was needed in the Pirates bullpen and would join the team in St. Louis.

Scouting report
Game: Pirates vs. Baltimore Orioles, 7:05 p.m., Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore.

TV, Radio: Root Sports, KDKA FM (93.7).

Probables: RHP Charlie Morton (0-3, 4.35 ERA) for Pirates vs. RHP Chris Tillman (3-1, 3.38 ERA) for Orioles

Key matchup: Andrew McCutchen vs. Orioles pitchers. McCutchen is 10 for 21 against the Orioles in his career.
Hidden stat: The Pirates have not won a game this season when trailing after seven innings. The club is 0-13 in those situations.

He has yet to throw a pitch, but said he'll be ready when the bullpen phone rings.

"We got about 40 minutes of sleep that night and I got on an 8 a.m. flight Sunday morning to meet up with the team in St. Louis," Sadler he. "They just said, 'Hey, when we give you the ball be ready to throw.' That's what I plan to do. It's a blessing to be here."

Sadler, a 25th-round pick by the Pirates in 2010, was bumped from the bullpen to the rotation halfway through the 2012 season at Class A Bradenton and has pitched primarily as a starter for Class AA Altoona in 2013 and Class AAA Indianapolis this season.

He is not expected to start in this stint with the Pirates.

"As it stands right now he will not start. He will pitch out of the bullpen," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle.

Sadler is primarily a sinkerball pitcher with velocity in the 94-95 mph range. He complements that with a changeup.

His ability to induce groundballs could play well as a reliever at this level.

"I'm always going to be a guy who goes out and gets contact and quick outs," Sadler said. "I still have to go out and get three outs an inning. You have to learn and move as the game goes, as a starter. Guys start making adjustments. You have to make adjustments. You don't have to do that as much out of the pen."

His expectations are still in check, but Sadler id ready to see what he can do on a major league mound.

"It's a ride. If it happens, it happens. If not? Then I did everything I could," he said. "I've learned so much more about myself through pro ball. Even the kind of man I am on and off the field. It's been a great ride, it really has. I'm looking forward to what it has in store."

Starters pushed back

Tuesday's game against the Baltimore Orioles was rained out and will be made up at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Charlie Morton, who was scheduled to start, will now start tonight. Brandon Cumpton is scheduled to pitch Thursday.

Both clubs had scheduled days off on Thursday.

Tuesday's game was to be the Pirates' first break from playing exclusively against National League Central opponents.

Change of scenery

Starling Marte was bumped from leadoff to the No. 7 slot in the lineup posted Tuesday, a change Hurdle said he hopes will allow Marte to reset at the plate.

"Just trying to take a load off the young man's shoulders," Hurdle said. "Really. That's it ... by taking a little bit of the load off he doesn't have to worry about leading off, slows his game down, hit pitches he's capable of hitting."

Marte is hitting .229 with 37 strikeouts and just a .308 on-base percentage from the leadoff position.

Hurdle said he's less concerned that Marte is chasing breaking pitches and more concerned that he's not ready for fastballs.

"For me it's not the chase that's getting him. It's the swing and miss on strikes," Hurdle said. "So he wants to do anything to help the team. He's gone out of his way to let us know that. We're going to put that in play and see if just dropping him down a little bit can help him with a little different scenery."

Jose Tabata was slated to bat leadoff before the game was rained out.

Injury updates

Wandy Rodriguez will make a rehab start with Class AA Altoona Thursday in Erie against the Erie SeaWolves. He was out in the rain Tuesday in Baltimore playing catch. ... Orioles All-Star third baseman Manny Machado is expected to be activated from the disabled list before tonight's game. He had offseason knee surgery.

Jenn Menendez: jmenendez@post-gazette.com and Twitter @JennMenendez.

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