Pirates notebook: Morton will start if Rodriguez goes on DL
• Right-hander Charlie Morton (elbow surgery) looked sharp in his rehab start Saturday with Indianapolis and could make his season debut Thursday if left-hander Wandy Rodriguez (elbow) ends up on the disabled list. In 6 1⁄3 innings, Morton gave up two runs and six hits, walked one and struck out four. He threw 96 pitches. “Very encouraging,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “A very good mix of pitches, good sinker, 10 groundball outs. His best outing to date.” Rodriguez will throw a bullpen session Monday to test his sore elbow, which caused him to leave the game last Wednesday in the first inning. If all is well, Rodriguez will start Thursday. If Rodriguez has a setback, he'll go on the DL. Morton then would come off the DL and take Rodriguez's place.
• Hurdle doesn't want to label it a platoon, but that seems to be what's happening at shortstop with Clint Barmes and Jordy Mercer. “They are sharing the position, to some degree, with Barmes taking the higher percentage of the playing time,” Hurdle said. Mercer (.613 OPS vs. right-handers, 1.024 vs. left-handers) plays against left-handed starters. Barmes (.648 OPS vs. righties, .773 vs. lefties) plays against right-handers. Also, Barmes tends to stay in games even when opponents bring in left-handed relievers. Barmes has an edge in playing time so far, but that could tip the other way if Mercer continues his solid performance. “If Mercer is gonna stay here, Mercer's gotta play here,” Hurdle said. “It's pretty simple, from the standpoint, for his development.”
• Right-hander Jameson Taillon was scratched from his start Sunday for Double-A Altoona because of a stiff neck. He is listed as day to day.
— Rob Biertempfel