Rotation shuffled to get Burnett against Dodgers
Continuing to adjust their starting rotation on the fly, the Pirates have flipped right-handers A.J. Burnett and James McDonald. Burnett will start Thursday in the series finale against the Dodgers at PNC Park. McDonald will be moved back to Friday against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium to kick off a key, six-day road trip.
The move puts Burnett back on a normal, five-day rotation. McDonald will make his next start on six days' rest and will do an extra side session with pitching coach Ray Searage.
“We tried to figure out what was best for our staff ace, then adjust accordingly,” Hurdle said.
McDonald is winless in his past four starts. In six outings since the All-Star break, he is 1-2 with an 8.71 ERA and a 2.03 WHIP.
Kevin Correia will make a second straight spot start Tuesday against the Dodgers. Manager Clint Hurdle did not indicate whether Correia would get more starts.
“We're evaluating it pretty much from start to start,” Hurdle said. “We'll wait. It's not make-or-break.”
• Infielder Gustavo Nunez, whom the Pirates got in the Rule 5 Draft last December, on Monday began a rehab assignment with the Gulf Coast League Pirates. He's missed the season recovering from right ankle surgery. The 20th and final day of Nunez's rehab period will be Sept. 1, which is the day major league rosters can expand. “We're just happy he's getting back on the field,” Hurdle said. Nunez was in big league spring training camp, then went on the 60-day DL when the Pirates acquired A.J. Burnett.
• It is unlikely right-hander Gerrit Cole will be a September callup. “We've not talked about it internally, (but) my gut (feeling) is no,” general manager Neal Huntington said. “We have a lot of other options instead of rushing a young prospect.” Cole, the top draft pick last year, is 3-4 with a 3.43 ERA in nine starts at Double-A Altoona.
• Outfielder Josh Bell continues to be bothered by swelling in his knee as he goes through his rehab program at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla. Bell, a second-round pick in 2011, had surgery April 27 to repair meniscus in his left knee. Huntington said Bell is not a candidate to play in either winter ball or the Arizona Fall League.
• Neil Walker went 5 for 5, including a home run, Sunday for the second time in his career. According to Elias, the only other Pirates to match that feat are Hall of Famers Willie Stargell and Arky Vaughn. Stargell did it in 1966 and ‘68; Vaughn did it in 1933 and ‘39.
— Rob Biertempfel