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Pirates notebook: Locke finds confidence in 2012 debut

| Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012, 9:02 p.m.
Christopher Horner
The Pirates' Neil Walker is feeling better after an injury-plagued second half in 2012. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Christopher Horner
Catcher Michael McKenry, shown breaking his bat during the third inning against Arizona earlier this month, caught all 19 innings of the Pirates' 6-3 win at St. Louis on Sunday, but wasn't fatigued. . (Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review)
Christopher Horner
The Pirates' Andrew McCutchen breaks his bat with a single during the third inning against Arizona Thursday August 9, 2012 at PNC Park. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review

Locke finds confidence in 2012 debut

Left-hander Jeff Locke said there was no question that he felt more confident taking the mound at PNC Park for his 2012 debut Thursday than he did as a September call-up last year.

“I don't know if it's because I spent two-thirds of the year last year in Double-A and short-term in Triple-A, I just felt way more confident this year,” he said. “I feel like I belong here and am in a place where I can help out the club and do what's needed of me.”

Locke was brought up to provide a long relief option for the Pirates with Kevin Correia making the spot start Wednesday. It's a different role for the minor league starter.

“You feel like you can probably let it go a little more,” he said. “You're probably not going to face the same guy twice so just go out there and attack them and give it your best.”

• Manager Clint Hurdle said if the Pirates use Kevin Correia out of the bullpen again, he will not be available until Sunday. Hurdle has not said whether they plan to give Correia another spot start during this stretch of 20 games in 20 days following the one he made Wednesday.

• Prospect Zack Dodson (LHP, fourth round in 2009, Low-A West Virginia) was suspended 50 games without pay for his second drug policy violation. Major League Baseball did not elaborate. “We are extremely disappointed in Zack's actions and have expressed this disappointment to him,” general manager Neal Huntington. “We are working with him to help him understand that he has to make better choices for his own well-being and to remain part of the Pirates organization.”

• Reliever Juan Cruz made another rehab appearance with Double-A Altoona, giving up one hit and striking out one in one inning.

• Major League Baseball announced its postseason schedule. The playoffs begin with a pair of wild card games Oct. 5. The division series run from Oct. 6-12, and Game One of the World Series is set for Oct. 24.

• Sunday's “Outside the Lines” and “SportsCenter” on ESPN will focus in on the life-changing connection between Roberto Clemente and Neil Walker. Tom Walker, Neil's father, was a winter ball pitcher and helped load the plane Clemente took on New Year's Eve 1972 to deliver relief supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. He asked to go, but Clemente, who died when the plane crashed, told him to stay. Clemente would have turned 78 on Aug. 18.

— Karen Price

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