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Pirates notebook: Rodriguez set to start Saturday

| Thursday, July 26, 2012, 9:30 p.m.
Former Astros pitcher Wandy Rodriguez gives a thumbs-up in the dugout moments after learning he had been traded to the Pirates on Tuesday, July 24, 2012. (AP)

HOUSTON — Wandy Rodriguez walked through the players' entrance at Minute Maid Park on Thursday, just as he did hundreds of times during his career with the Houston Astros.

This time, though, he walked into the visitors' clubhouse and tugged on a strange jersey.

Two days after he switched teams, Rodriguez officially joined the Pirates.

“It feels strange,” he said. “It's a hard situation for me. It's my first time being traded. At first I felt like crying, but it's normal.”

Rodriguez, 33, signed with the Astros in 1999 and trained at their Dominican academy. He pitched nearly eight full seasons for Houston.

“I was hearing rumors about being traded since last season, so we were prepared for it to come,” he said. “It was no surprise, but it was hard. I'll try to help this team play very good because we have a chance to make the playoffs.”

The left-hander will make his first start for the Pirates on Saturday against the Astros.

“The only thing I can say is, I'll try to do the best I can,” he said. “I'll do my job.”

Lefty Erik Bedard, who originally was slated to pitch Saturday, instead will start Monday in Chicago against the Cubs.

Correia out of rotation

Look for the Pirates to ramp up their efforts to trade righty Kevin Correia, who was moved to the bullpen to make room for Rodriguez.

“I'm not happy about it,” said Correia (8-6, 4.24 ERA). “It's been years, but I've been out in the bullpen before. I'm sure I can do it.”

Correia was used almost exclusively as a reliever in 2006 and ‘07, when he pitched for San Francisco. He became a full-time starter again in 2008, when he signed with San Diego.

The Pirates have let teams know Correia is available for a trade. The Los Angeles Angels might be interested, and Correia surely would welcome a chance to return to his native California.

“Starting pitching is what I want to do,” he said. “I think that's best how I help the team. But if I need to pitch out of the bullpen now to help us win, then I'll do that.”

Often the victim of poor run support, Correia got off to a rocky start but has won his past five starts.

“This was one of the harder decisions we've had to make,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “It's no disrespect to Kevin, but it seems to be the best move we can make for the team right now.”

Correia will pitch in a long-relief role. That will free up right-hander Brad Lincoln to pitch more in late-inning situations.

“If there's a time we need back-to-back (long relievers), we've got more depth now,” Hurdle said. “It also gives us an opportunity to use Lincoln in more leverage situations to help out (setup man Jason) Grilli. The back end becomes a little stronger.”

Righty Juan Cruz, who's on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, is expected to soon resume throwing in rehab. He's eligible to come off the DL on Aug. 2

Lose some, win some

According to Elias, Correia is the first Pirates pitcher to win at least five straight starts after having a five-game losing streak in the same season since 1965, when Vern Law went 8-0 immediately after losing his first five starts.

Correia dropped five in a row from April 29 to May 20. He won his fifth straight Wednesday, a 3-2 victory against the Cubs.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or 412-320-7811.

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