If Wandy can't go Sunday, Cole not option to start

Club will decide by Friday; Irwin, Johnson among possible candidates

If Wandy can't go Sunday, Cole not option to start

PHOENIX -- The Pirates have locked in their starters for the first two games of this weekend's series against the Reds -- A.J. Burnett and Jeff Locke -- but Wandy Rodriguez's hamstring injury could open the door for someone at Triple-A Indianapolis to be recalled for a spot start Sunday.

Gerrit Cole? Grab that bag and breathe into it now --- no, it won't yet be Cole time. Most likely candidates for a cameo are Phil Irwin or, if the Bucs wanted to go lefty-for-lefty, Kris Johnson.

Rodriguez departed Monday's game in the third inning with left-hamstring tightness. He underwent an MRI on Tuesday, results of which were not yet reported as of mid-afternoon local time.

"We want to give Wandy time to see if he can make that [Sunday] start," said Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle, who indicated the final call on that would have to be made by Friday. "We'll know as we get close to the weekend whether he'll be able to go. If not, we anticipate a spot start -- we've got options internally, or it may be one of our guys in Triple-A."

Candidates to start already on the big league staff include Chris Leroux, Jeanmar Gomez and Justin Wilson. But their availability depends on who is needed in the final two games of the set with the D-backs.

Although James McDonald, Tuesday night's starter, would be eligible to face Cincinnati on normal four days' rest Sunday, he is not being considered. The Pirates have 20 consecutive playing dates on the other side of Thursday's off-day.

"We have every inclination to keep McDonald and [Wednesday starter Jonathan] Sanchez in place for St. Louis," said Hurdle, referring to the opening games of the Monday-Wednesday series against the Cardinals. "I don't want to move them up. As we get into this 20-game set, I want go get everybody an extra day [of rest]."

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.