The elbow stiffness that forced Duke to skip his start on Tuesday is progressing slower than anticipated, manager John Russell reported. If Duke is unable to throw a side on Wednesday, he will not be cleared to start on Saturday, as initially anticipated. That will force the Pirates to come up with a spot starter for their second game in Oakland.
General manager Neal Huntington named four starters -- Daniel McCutchen, Brian Burres, Dana Eveland and Charlie Morton -- who would be under consideration to take Duke's spot in the rotation next weekend if he remains sidelined. Eveland is the only one of that group currently on the Pirates' 25-man roster. McCutchen is already scheduled to pitch on Saturday, so he'd be able to stay on his normal schedule if he were called up.
All indications are that Duke's injury is entirely muscle-related, meaning that there is no ligament damage. Duke tried to pitch through similar discomfort in 2007 and ended up missing nearly three months. As a result, the team plans to be extra cautious this time around.
"We want to make sure we take care of the muscle and let that heal properly and get back strong enough not to put him in harm's way," Huntington said. "He and we do not want to relive [what happened in 2007]."