NEW YORK -- In a sideways sort of way, simply conquering .500 -- which would have been a major letdown a mere month ago -- has turned into a possibly significant accomplishment for the Pirates. And the Bucs want it -- but apparently not badly enough to prioritize it over planning ahead. Two rookie pitchers who, as of Monday afternoon, hadn't yet won a Major League game -- Kyle McPherson and Jeff Locke -- remain in the season-closing rotation, while one deserving veteran, Jeff Karstens, is on the outside.
Manager Clint Hurdle made no bones about the motive behind the continued use of McPherson and Locke: With A.J. Burnett the only veteran starter on the staff signed for 2013, the club has to see what it might have in the two rookies. "Our focus right now is to get them some starts. As we build the club forward, whatever changes might take place, we have to think of how we can add value to the starting rotation," Hurdle said. As for fixating on a winning record, Hurdle reaffirmed his greater interest in performance than in results. "It's not a rallying cry, but we're aware of it," the manager said of .500. "For us, it would be a good finish, because it will take seven wins [out of the last 10] to get to 82. It would be a very positive statement with which to finish the season."