Pirates notebook: Marte provides punch in leadoff spot
• Starling Marte has the sizzle the Pirates need in the leadoff spot. “We want this kid to be aggressive in the strike zone,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “I'm not looking for him to try to become a Maury Wills. I want more of a Rickey Henderson-type leadoff hitter. There's some swing, there's some barrel, there's going to be some slashing going on from time to time. We've already seen the excitement when he gets on base — triples, stealing a base, hard out of the box, hard turns. It's a good package.” Marte has gotten a first-inning hit in each of the past five games has a team-best .333 batting average.
• An MRI exam showed left-hander Wandy Rodriguez has a strained left hamstring. According to a team news release, Rodriguez's status “remains undetermined and it is not likely he will be able to make his next scheduled start” Sunday against Cincinnati. If Rodriguez is out, the Pirates could call up lefty Andy Oliver from Triple-A Indianapolis to make a spot start.
• Right-hander Jeff Karstens (shoulder inflammation) threw long toss Wednesday. “I didn't feel a single thing,” Karstens said. “From what I felt today, this is better than it's been all spring.” Karstens still must work up to throwing off a mound and bullpen sessions before he can begin a rehab assignment.
• Brandon Inge became eligible to come off the disabled list Wednesday but remained with Indy. Inge likely will make a final rehab appearance Thursday, then join the team Friday in Pittsburgh and be activated for the series against the Reds.
— Rob Biertempfel
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