Pirates notebook: Locke doesn't fret losing rotation spot

| Monday, April 22, 2013, 7:09 p.m.

PHILADELPHIA — Jeff Locke remembers who was on the mound for the opposition when he made his major league debut and not only because it wasn't all that long ago.

“Anibal Sanchez, complete game, one hit, 12 strikeouts,” Locke rattled off instantly. “I'll never forget. Obviously it's special to me like (Monday) will be special for that guy squaring off against (A.J.) Burnett. Things will change for him (Monday), surely. You go from dreaming and hoping and wishing and working for this your whole life then you get that opportunity.”

Locke was referring to was right-hander Jonathan Pettibone, who made his major league debut against the Pirates in the series opener at Citizens Bank Park on Monday.

Locke debuted in a 3-0 loss to the Florida Marlins on Sept. 10, 2011, and gave up three runs and five hits in five innings. The left-hander will start Tuesday against fellow left-hander Cole Hamels, and although he's well aware of Francisco Liriano and Charlie Morton now pitching in Double-A Altoona, he's not putting added pressure on himself.

“I'm not pitching to keep a spot. I'm just pitching for the other guys around me,” said Locke, who is 1-1 with a 5.17 ERA and gave up four runs in 4 23 innings against Atlanta in his last start. “We just had a great homestand, and I want to continue that success. I've never been to Philly before, and I hear these games are just absolutely awesome, so I'm very excited for the opportunity. And I just want to keep our winning ways.”

Little of this, little of that

The Pirates went 7-2 on a homestand that was billed as one that would provide a good look at where the team stacks up against strong opponents such as Cincinnati, St. Louis and Atlanta.

Manager Clint Hurdle said Monday that what impressed him most was his team's resiliency.

“We won a number of different ways throughout the homestand,” he said. “Our defense showed up at critical times; the starting pitching sometimes was the machine part of it. The bullpen has been solid throughout. Offensively, we found a much better rhythm since we got to Arizona and were able to carry it over at home. We're just doing things that the game is asking us to do. We're answering the tasks in a pretty efficient way.”

Extra bases

Morton is expected to pitch four innings (60 pitches) at Double-A Altoona on Tuesday. … Hurdle said reports are that Jose Contreras feels fine after pitching back-to-back days. … With regard to Jonathan Sanchez, Hurdle said he does not expect any adjustments to the rotation, but he was due to meet with general manager Neil Huntington prior to the game to “catch up.”

Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at kprice@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.

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