ST. LOUIS -- The Pirates, on Sunday morning, announced the contraction of their rotation back to five men, not news to any sharp-eyed people who spotted Kevin Correia in Busch Stadium's bullpen on Saturday.Manager Clint Hurdle had informed Correia of the move prior to Saturday's game, and he was available in relief. Without Correia, who would have been in line to start Monday night's opener of a three-game series in San Diego, the other starters are simply being moved up: Wandy Rodriguez goes Monday, followed by A.J. Burnett and James McDonald. This marks the reunion in the rotation of Burnett and McDonald, which could be a positive development. Until they were split up coming out of the All-Star break, the two right-handers followed each other for the last six weeks of the first half. The Pirates have an overall record of 16-4 with Burnett and McDonald starting back-to-back. Correia was resigned to being bumped from the rotation for the second time in a month. He originally was removed to accommodate Rodriguez's arrival from Houston. Since that July 25 trade, Correia has pitched three times, once in relief and twice as a spot starter. "We talked about things in life," said Hurdle, trying to characterize his latest talk with Correia. "You may not like how things are, but you just need to perform. He's been with the club all year -- he's one of the reasons we got the wins we've gotten -- and he wants to continue to help. I told him, 'Stay focused. Stay sharp. Pitch in where you're needed.'"
Marte placed on 15-day DL with oblique strain
ST. LOUIS -- Channeling "Cool Hand Luke" in discussing Starling Marte's sore right side early Sunday morning, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle essentially said, "What we have here is failure to communicate."Within an hour, however, language barriers and Marte's own unfamiliarity with injuries were overcome to one clear conclusion: The rookie outfielder is being placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right oblique. Taking his place on the roster, in left field, atop the lineup is Jose Tabata, who was recalled from his seven-week stint in Triple-A Indianapolis. The Bucs will likely make another roster move following Sunday's series finale with the Cardinals. Jordy Mercer could go either on paternity leave (for Monday's birth of his first child) or the disabled list, if the right-forearm bruise from being hit by a pitch Saturday is deemed serious enough. Either way, that could be the opening for reliever Chad Qualls' Monday return from the bereavement list. Marte, pulled from Saturday's game after 5 1/2 innings with discomfort in his right side, spent the morning with heavy bandaging across his torso. "We're having a hard time communicating pain and discomfort, because he's never really been hurt before. He's having it looked at now," Hurdle said early in the morning. "We did get to an understanding about one thing -- he is more sore today than he was [Saturday]." In 23 games since his July 26 Major League debut, Marte has hit .253 with an on-base percentage of .287. Tabata, less than two months older than Marte despite his extensive big league experience, hit .230 in 72 games prior to being optioned to Triple-A on July 2, with an on-base percentage of .295.
Bucs likely to call Triple-A for Monday's starter
ST. LOUIS -- The Pirates' 6-3, 19-inning win over the Cardinals on Sunday had everything -- including their scheduled starter for Monday.Wandy Rodriguez, who had been slated to open up a three-game series in San Diego in search of his first win with the Bucs, instead pocketed that victory by pitching the final two innings of Sunday's marathon triumph. "You never wake up in the morning thinking, 'I can't wait to get tomorrow's starter in the game today,'" said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, who indicated it was too premature to speculate about who might take Rodriguez's place. Pittsburgh will have to scramble for someone to take the hill at Petco Park. Right-hander Kevin Correia -- who was originally Monday's scheduled starter prior to the club's decision to revert to a five-man rotation, also put in a two-inning stint on Sunday. In the most likely scenario, the Pirates will reach down to Triple-A Indianapolis for someone to make a spot start. Infielder Jordy Mercer will be going on paternity leave -- he has already left the club to join his wife for the Monday birth of their first child -- but his roster spot was expected to be filled by reliever Chad Qualls, due back from the bereavement list. The Pirates may opt to make an additional move, and recall either Chris Leroux or Justin Wilson from Indianapolis for Monday night's start.
Tabata called up to fill in for injured Marte
ST. LOUIS -- If there seemed to be something odd about the idea of veteran Jose Tabata being available as a replacement when young rookie outfielder Starling Marte had to go on the disabled list, this was it:Despite the more vast Major League experience of Tabata -- he appeared in his 266th game Sunday -- he is all of two months Marte's senior. Tabata returned from Indianapolis only seven weeks older, but immeasurably wiser. He'd been optioned to Triple-A on July 3, following weeks of questions about his on-field focus, and predictably did not take the demotion well. "It was difficult, sure. But you have to be strong," Tabata said. "Everything's different down there. I feel good. The past is the past. I want to forget the past. I'm here today." Tabata wound up hitting .297 in 41 games with the Indians, making consistent contact (only 20 strikeouts in 158 at-bats), albeit the power was still missing (nine doubles being his only extra-base hits). But the bulk of that production followed his adjustment period, convincing observers he was ready to pick up, and dial up, his big league career. "The reports on him have been very positive," said manager Clint Hurdle. "That's the reason he's here. The game, the energy, the ability -- they've all come back to a very good place for him. Everyone's been very encouraged by what they've seen from him on the field, in the batter's box, on the bases."
Wandy Rodriguez, who until his late July trade had pitched two-and-a-half seasons for Houston manager Brad Mills, said of his dismissal, "I felt very comfortable with him. But that's a tough situation in Houston." Rookie right-hander Jared Hughes made his return appearance Saturday with men on second and third and two outs in the fifth -- and dropped the hammer on that inning by striking out Shane Robinson. Hughes has stranded 24 of 25 inherited runners, the best percentage (96) in the Majors. Had the Pirates, whose ninth-inning rally fell short in Saturday's 5-4 loss, prolonged the game, Clint Hurdle was prepared to use Neil Walker in a pinch-hitting capacity. But the switch-hitting Walker, in the early stages of recovering from a dislocated right little finger that makes it more painful to swing from the left side, would've batted right-handed against St. Louis closer Jason Motte.
"Maybe they should take a brown bag up to the plate in their back pocket, and step out and blow into it."
-Hurdle, suggesting a way to help batters relax in stressful two-out situations with men in scoring position.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.