Pirates notebook: Doubleheader could force Jeff Locke to start
May 3, 2014 12:16 AM
Left-hander Jeff Locke could make his 2014 debut with the Pirates if they recall him to fill a hole in the rotation.
By Bill Brink / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Pirates are preparing for the possibility that left-hander Jeff Locke will start Monday against the San Francisco Giants, manager Clint Hurdle said Friday, but have not yet decided on a starter.
"Far from it," Hurdle said.
Locke, 26, is pitching for Class AAA Indianapolis, but he was removed from his start after two innings Thursday night.
He would have three days of rest after that brief outing if the Pirates decided to call him up for the Monday start.
The other option is left-hander Wandy Rodriguez, who is on the 15-day disabled list because of inflammation in his right knee but is eligible to be activated Monday.
Rodriguez made a rehabilitation start Thursday for Class AA Altoona and allowed four runs, three earned, on four hits.
He also walked three and struck out three, needing 74 pitches through 31/3 innings.
Hurdle said Friday he had not spoken with Rodriguez or the medical staff before meeting with reporters and was unsure how Rodriguez's knee responded to the rehabilitation start.
The Pirates need a starter Monday because consecutive rainouts forced a doubleheader Thursday, meaning Charlie Morton and Brandon Cumpton both pitched. Starting either of them Monday would give them three days of rest between starts rather than the usual four.
Locke started the season on the disabled list because an oblique strain in spring training prevented him from building his pitch and inning count.
The Pirates optioned him to Indianapolis April 10.
In four starts, Locke has a 5.68 ERA in 19 innings, but he has struck out 17 and walked five.
His walk rate became an issue in 2013.
After he posted a 2.15 ERA in the first half of the season and made the National League All-Star team, he regressed in the second half, partly because a back injury prevented him from completing his between-start workouts.
Rodriguez had a 7.65 ERA in four starts before going on the DL.
His seven home runs allowed were tied for the most in the league before Friday.
Kratz back in majors
The Toronto Blue Jays called up catcher Erik Kratz, who spent time in the Pirates organization in 2009-10, from Class AAA Buffalo before the game against the Pirates at PNC Park.
Kratz, 33, made his major league debut with the Pirates in 2010.
He also played for the Philadelphia Phillies in each of the next three seasons.
The move means the Blue Jays, who are carrying three catchers, have only six relievers available instead of the usual seven.
The Blue Jays optioned right-hander Chad Jenkins to Buffalo to make room Kratz.
Martin makes progress
Hurdle said catcher Russell Martin, on the 15-day DL because of a strained left hamstring, has resumed weight training and conditioning with the Pirates' training staff.
"I believe there's some progress being made," Hurdle said.
Martin, however, is not eligible to come off the DL until May 11.
Bill Brink: email@example.com and Twitter @BrinkPG.
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