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Pirates notebook: Catcher Martin vows to start in St. Louis

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Thursday, April 24, 2014, 5:18 p.m.
 

Catcher Russell Martin had a second day off in a row Thursday but promised he'd be back in the starting lineup Friday to face the Cardinals in St. Louis.

Asked if he was healthy, Martin replied, “When am I ever healthy?” He then said his absence from the last two games of the series was a chance to prevent a nagging problem from becoming something that could develop into a greater issue down the road.

On Wednesday, Martin initially was written into the Pirates' starting lineup but was scratched prior to the game for Chris Stewart, who started again in the series finale. Martin started 117 games for the Pirates in 2013.

“There's been a lot of things,” manager Clint Hurdle said of Martin's health. “There's lower-body soreness, and as the game goes on the soreness has a tendency to increase.”

Rodriguez throws bullpen

Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez (right knee inflammation) said before a bullpen session Thursday that he “feels better now” and expects to make a Triple-A start while the Pirates are in Baltimore next week. Hurdle said Rodriguez will throw another side session in St. Louis, likely Sunday, and if that goes well he could pitch for Indianapolis on Wednesday. “I think it's in everyone's best interest that he goes out and actually gets in a game-type situation, as close as you can get to this level,” Hurdle said.

Alvarez bats 5th vs. lefty

With the Pirates facing a left-handed starter for just the second time this season, Hurdle opted to bat Gaby Sanchez in the cleanup spot and moved Pedro Alvarez to fifth for the first time this year. Alvarez batted fourth against Cubs left-hander Travis Wood, but the Pirates' third baseman also entered the day 6 for 36 in his last 10 games. Alvarez went 1 for 4 with a single to shallow right field in the first inning, and Sanchez was 1 for 3 with a single in the sixth.

Help on the way?

The Pirates ended the eight-game homestand with a 2-6 record, scoring 17 runs in the two wins, 27 in the six losses and just four in the last three games after beating the Reds in the series opener 6-5 on Monday. Asked if some offensive help from Triple-A may soon arrive, perhaps in the form of Gregory Polanco, Hurdle said he spoke to Indianapolis manager Dean Treanor “at length” Wednesday.

“There's a lot of different things to look at besides numbers, quality of the competition,” Hurdle said. “I know we have guys that we have some interest in, one in particular. We've also got some guys here that need to find some consistency and use the opportunity that's there while it's there and see where that takes us. Moves will be made when it's the right time to make.”

Odds and ends

RHP Nick Kingham moved into MLB's top 100 prospects list at No. 100, giving the Pirates eight players on the list, tied for the most of any team in baseball. … RHP Jared Hughes was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis to make room for RHP Brandon Cumpton on the 25-man roster.

Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at kprice@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.

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