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Pirates notebook: Ailing Rodriguez shut down

| Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013, 5:06 p.m.
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Wandy Rodriguez pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in August 2012. The Pirates announced today that Rodriguez would not pitch for the club during the remainder of the current season.

The Pirates on Saturday decided to shut down left-handed pitcher Wandy Rodriguez for the remainder of the season.

Rodriguez had not pitched since injuring his left elbow June 5 in Atlanta. Rodriguez threw a 67-pitch simulated game Thursday at PNC Park, but he continues to have pain in his throwing elbow.

Rodriguez was diagnosed with elbow arthritis by orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews, who initially prescribed a plasma-rich platelet injection and rest.

“I don't feel 100 percent pain-free, so there's no way I can go out there and give my best to the team,” Rodriguez said through an interpreter.

Manager Clint Hurdle said he and general manager Neal Huntington met with Rodriguez early Saturday afternoon.

“It was a hard meeting,” Hurdle said. “He's put so much into this. He's worked so very hard to get in position to pitch again because of a want to help the team. But he continues to pitch with pain and discomfort. We are going to turn our focus to 2014 and let him he heal.”

Rodriguez has a $13 million player option for 2014, with $5.5 million of the potential dollars coming from the Houston Astros, who sent Rodriguez to Pittsburgh on July 26, 2012 for minor leaguer pitchers Rudy Owens and Colton Cain and minor league outfielder Robbie Grossman.

Huntington indicated the Pirates took out an insurance policy in case Rodriguez sustained a serious injury. Huntington did not divulge any details.

Rodriguez will turn 36 in January, one month before the start of spring training.

“Right now the most important thing is the health of my arm,” Rodriguez said. “That's what I'm focused on. I'm not even thinking about (the contract).”

Hurdle still wants Grilli at closer

Despite a decline in velocity for Jason Grilli and his second blown save of the season Friday, Hurdle still wants to work Grilli back to the closer role.

“I like the fact that we still have the opportunity to get him back where he was because we are much better, dynamically, with him being him,” Hurdle said.

Time is not on the side of Hurdle's plan.

There are only two weeks left in the regular season and working a less-than-100-percent Grilli in a key situation Friday played a key role in the Pirates' loss. Hurdle said he still has time to adjust bullpen roles before any potential postseason games.

Less pain, progressfor Marte

Pirates outfielder Starling Marte said his right hand feels “much better” after taking more swings Friday and Saturday. Hurdle said Marte might have to deal with discomfort in his right hand the rest of the season but hopes to have him back in the lineup in the coming days.

McDonald opts for free agency

James McDonald cleared waivers and has opted for free agency rather than accept a minor league assignment. The Pirates designated the right-hander for assignment last week.

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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