Breaking down Thursday's Pirates-Cubs game
Pirates beat reporter Travis Sawchik's inside look at Thursday's game:
• Wandy Rodriguez will pitch in his first regular season game since leaving a game June 5, 2013, in Atlanta with elbow pain. He looked healthy this spring, reporting no lingering discomfort and showing his usually velocity and sharp command. A healthy Rodriguez is key for a Pirates' team that lost A.J. Burnett and whose top reinforcement, Jameson Taillon, is dealing with an elbow injury. Rodriguez is the only staff member to reach 200 innings in a major league season. “He's been in a good place all spring.” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “He sure does feel good. The old Wandy is back.”
• The Cubs are hoping for a bounce-back season from Jason Hammel, who signed a one-year deal this offseason. The Pirates have just 58 combined at bats against Hammel, who has limited them to a .224 batting average.
Travis Ishikawa got the start over Gaby Sanchez against another right-handed pitcher Wednesday. Hurdle insists it will not be a “cookie cutter” platoon and Sanchez will hit vs. select RHPs.
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