PITTSBURGH -- Erik Bedard may not exactly be irreplaceable -- but the Pirates will not try to replace the released left-hander in their starting rotation. Instead, as enabled by an off-day prior to Friday's beginning of a weekend series in Milwaukee, the Bucs will simply move up the other starters and have them pitch on regular four days' rest. That sets up a tentative rotation of Jeff Karstens, A.J. Burnett and James McDonald to face the Brewers. And that would carry the Bucs into September -- when rosters and pitching options will expand.
Manager Clint Hurdle made it clear that, while general manager Neal Huntington and his staff continue to canvas the market in the days remaining before postseason rosters become frozen on Aug. 31, the Pirates' focus for pitching help remains "in-house." Specifically, starters Jeff Locke and Kyle McPherson and lefty reliever Justin Wilson loom prominent for the September roster. "We saw three guys the last month -- short looks, yes -- that we liked," Hurdle said, alluding to that trio. "They all handled themselves well in short snapshots. "So we're talking about a lot of things, paying attention and making calls, seeing what the 'ask' is. If we don't like that, we've got a number of guys below in whom we have a lot of interest." As for Bedard, Hurdle called the decision to release him "strictly performance related." After being signed to a $4.5 million deal as a free agent in the offseason, Bedard went 7-14 with a 5.01 ERA in 24 starts. "We tried various methods to get him to a more consistent place," Hurdle said. "Sometimes we all work in the same direction but don't get the results. He was very professional going out the door."