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Pirates notebook: Rehabbing pitchers could give rotation a boost

| Thursday, May 1, 2014, 7:54 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Wandy Rodriguez stands on the mound after giving up a run during the third inning against the Brewers on Saturday, April 189 2014, at PNC Park.

BALTIMORE — Wandy Rodriguez was far from dazzling Thursday in his rehab outing with Double-A Altoona, which could open the door for Jeff Locke's return to the majors.

If Rodriguez's gimpy right knee feels good Friday, he could rejoin the Pirates' rotation next week in time for his next start. He is eligible to come off the disabled list Monday.

Locke pitched Thursday, a day earlier than he was originally scheduled, for Triple-A Indianapolis. It seems likely he will be recalled sometime during the nine-game homestand that begins Friday.

The starting pitching could be adjusted for Rodriguez's status, the doubleheader Thursday against the Baltimore Orioles, and uncertainty about Francisco Liriano, who left his last start with nosebleed-induced dizziness.

In his rehab start Thursday at Erie, Rodriguez pitched 3 13 innings and allowed four runs (three earned) and four hits. The left-hander walked three, struck out three and threw 74 pitches (48 strikes).

“Wandy reported he felt fine after (the game),” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “We'll have to wait until we see him (Friday). The last time that this flared up, it flared up the day after he pitched.”

Locke pitched two innings Thursday against Pawtucket and allowed two runs and three hits.

Locke opened the season on the disabled list because of an oblique injury. He was sent to Indy as soon as he was activated and has a 5.68 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP in four starts.

Here comes the judge

Travis Snider's appeal of his two-game suspension will be heard Tuesday. Russell Martin's appeal of his one-game suspension also will be heard next week. Snider and Martin were punished for their roles in an on-field brawl against the Milwaukee Brewers on April 20 at PNC Park.

Martin is on the DL because of a strained left hamstring and will be eligible to return May 11. If upheld, his suspension can't begin until after Martin comes off the DL.

Feeling a draft

The Pirates will make three picks among the first 74 selections in the MLB Draft, which will be June 5-7.

The order is based on reverse order of last season's finish. The Pirates hold picks Nos. 24, 64 and 73 (competitive-balance pick) in the first two rounds, No. 100 (third round) and No. 131 (fourth round).

Upon further review

According to MLB, instant replay review was used 191 times in April. There were 85 calls overturned, 53 standing, 50 confirmed and three uses for record-keeping. A standing call means there wasn't clear and convincing evidence to force a change. The average length of a review was two minutes, six seconds.

Around the horn

Because it was a traditional, single-admission doubleheader Thursday, the Pirates and Orioles were not allowed to add a 26th player to their rosters. ... Orioles reliever Evan Meek still keeps tabs on the Pirates, for whom he pitched from 2008-12. He was excited for his old mates last year when the Pirates made the playoffs. “That was fantastic to see,” said Meek, who is close friends with Pirates closer Jason Grilli. ... Infielder Robert Andino was activated from the disabled list at Indianapolis. ... Giants right-hander Matt Cain is slated to start Monday against the Pirates. Cain was scratched from his last start after cutting his finger while making a sandwich.

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

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