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Pirates notebook: Bucs debut new 'Mission October' show on Fox Sports 1

| Friday, Aug. 23, 2013, 10:03 p.m.
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Pirates starter Jeff Locke pitches against the Giants on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
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Manager Clint Hurdle and the Pirates are part of a new TV series, which looks at potential playoff hopefuls.

SAN FRANCISCO — If the Pirates needed another reminder that they are chasing history, they received it this week as Fox Sports 1 cameras and microphones crowded the visiting clubhouse in San Francisco.

The Pirates agreed to be part of the “Mission October” TV series, a collaboration between MLB Productions and Fox Sports 1, which will offer viewers a behind-the-scenes look at several clubs chasing postseason berths. The Pirates will be the focus of the debut half-hour episode at 7:30 p.m. Monday on Fox Sports 1.

The series will have eight episodes, and the Pirates hope to be featured on the final one: an hour-long show after the World Series.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said the club declined several significant requests from national media but agreed to be a part of the MLB Network series.

“We haven't made a big deal of it,” Hurdle said. “We are not doing anything outside of what we are normally doing. … It's just a bigger stage.”

Grilli to face live batters

Jason Grilli is getting closer to resuming his role as Pirates closer.

Grilli is scheduled to throw another bullpen Sunday in San Francisco. Assuming that goes well, Hurdle said Grilli will throw a 25-pitch simulated game Wednesday in Pittsburgh.

Grilli said Thursday he was hoping to be “game ready” by the end of the month.

“He's real pleased with progress,” Hurdle said.

Alvarez gets off day

Hurdle had been seeking an off day for third baseman Pedro Alvarez, and he decided to sit him Friday against the Giants, who were throwing left-hander Madison Bumgarner. Alvarez is 0 for 2 with two strikeouts against Bumgarner. Jordy Mercer got the start at third.

“It's more about maintenance,” Hurdle said.

“There's been a high volume of activity for him on both sides of the ball and we were looking for a day that might make sense. He's not backed off early work, pre-game work, defensive work. He's done a lot of baserunning as well. Not trotting, actually running; running as fast he can.”

More details on Rodriguez

Hurdle said Wandy Rodriguez (elbow) completed his 40-pitch simulated game Thursday but complained of discomfort in his second inning of work.

It was the first time he threw breaking balls since his June 5 injury.

“He made the pitches. It wasn't like all of the sudden there was no fastball velocity,” Hurdle said. “But he felt something he wasn't comfortable with.”

Rodriguez is scheduled to visit with orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews next week.

Marte in a ‘holding pattern'

Pirates left fielder Starling Marte (hand) was again out of the lineup, and Hurdle said he might not be as close to game ready as indicated Thursday.

“He'll let us know (Friday) how he feels after he does some more work,” Hurdle said. “We'll wait and see. We're kind of in a holding pattern. ... I'm not a doctor. I talk out loud sometimes. Talking about a player's injury, I don't know, sometimes I probably give you (the media) something just to get you off my back.”

He said it

Hurdle said he tested bouncing balls off the warning track prior to Friday's game after Alvarez had two ground-rule doubles Thursday, unfortunate bounces that cost the Pirates a run or two.

“The warning track is really, really hard,” Hurdle said. “That's just the luck of the draw.”

Travis Sawchik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at tsawchik@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Sawchik_Trib.

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