PITTSBURGH -- All-Star left-hander Jeff Locke was a double-scratch Saturday: After experiencing some lower back stiffness following his most recent start, he was removed from his scheduled start on Sunday as well as from the National League roster for Tuesday's All-Star Game.
Gerrit Cole instead will face the Mets on his regular pitching schedule in the finale of the season's ceremonial first half.
NL manager Bruce Bochy will name a replacement on his All-Star staff for Locke, who will still attend festivities in New York and at Citi Field on a non-participatory basis.
The young lefty already has a reserved spot in the post-All-Star break rotation -- he is scheduled to pitch on Sunday, July 21, in Cincinnati -- so this appears to be a minor timeout facilitated by the four-day All-Star break.
"Really, we could not have had a better time to take care of that type of physical issue," said manager Clint Hurdle.
Locke reported the discomfort after a seven-inning outing on Monday against Oakland. He went through his regular bullpen session on Friday, when the tightness continued.
"He felt just a little off," Hurdle said. "But he was on the mound [Friday], so we know he's close. With the four additional days [off for the break], next Sunday he will be in a good place."
General manager Neal Huntington, trainer Todd Tomczyk, Hurdle and Locke took a meeting before deciding on their course of action.
"Jeff said, 'If push came to shove, I could probably do it. But I think it'd be selfish of me to go out there and pitch.' So that's where we are," Hurdle said.
The manager also announced his post-break rotation around Locke: Francisco Liriano and A.J. Burnett before him, in the first two games against the Reds, and Charlie Morton and Cole after him, in Washington against the Nationals.
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.