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Pirates notebook: Alvarez, Marte both OK after injury scares

Pirates players watch as medical staff examine Pirates batter Starling Marte's left hand after he was hit by a pitch from Colorado Rockies pitcher Josh Outman in the seventh inning of a baseball game in Denver on Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013. Colorado beat Pittsburgh 6-4.

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Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, 8:42 p.m.

DENVER — The Pirates dodged bullets with the injuries to Pedro Alvarez and Starling Marte.

Alvarez was in the lineup Sunday against the Colorado Rockies less than 24 hours after he was spiked on his left index finger by Dexter Fowler. Alvarez's finger was bandaged, but the cut did not require stitches.

“It could have been a lot worse,” Alvarez said.

Marte's left hand is swollen, with a welt on the meaty part on the side where he was drilled by a pitch from Josh Outman. X-rays taken Saturday night showed no fracture.

Marte was not in the lineup Sunday but was available as a pinch runner.

“There's nothing screaming at us that he's going to be out awhile at this point,” manager Clint Hurdle said.

Marte has been plunked 19 times, second in the NL behind Reds leadoff hitter Shin-Soo Choo (22).

Extra rest for Cole

Right-hander Gerrit Cole's next start has been pushed back to Friday against the Arizona Diamondbacks at PNC Park. The Pirates will use Charlie Morton (Tuesday), Francisco Liriano (Wednesday) and A.J. Burnett (Thursday) against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The move was made to try to keep Cole fresher during the stretch run of the season. Cole will make three more starts by the end of August instead of four, which should cut about 100 pitches from his season total.

“We want to make sure we keep things where they need to be,” Hurdle said. “We prefer not to trim it the way we did the last time, with him leaving after five innings. We want to pick our spots. We'll look to trim in other places as well.”

Cole threw a side session Sunday and is slated to throw an extra one, which might include some live batting practice later this week in St. Louis.

Left-hander Jeff Locke also might get extra rest.

“Innings-wise and pitch (count)-wise, he's fine,” general manager Neal Huntington said. “At the same time, we want to be cognizant of the fact that he's made every turn. So, there may come a time we give him a little extra breather as well.”

See you in September?

Left-hander Andy Oliver continues to struggle with walks at Triple-A Indianapolis, so he has been shifted from the rotation to the bullpen. If he can resolve his control issues, Oliver, who is out of major league options, might be a September call-up.

“He's got a great arm and a very good two-pitch mix, a power fastball and power breaking ball,” Huntington said. “We wanted to give him some bullpen exposure ... to see if he might be in position to help us out of the bullpen in September. We don't like to ask guys to do something at the major league level they haven't done before.”

Right-hander James McDonald (shoulder) threw a side session Sunday in Florida and is scheduled to throw a simulated game this week.

“We'll probably stretch him to three innings and 50 pitches and make a determination from there,” Huntington said. “Assuming he's effective, he could get back to help us more quickly (as a reliever).”

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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