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Rough outing may have been Locke's last in '13

Rough outing may have been Locke's last in '13

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Rough outing may have been Locke's last in '13

CHICAGO -- Beyond Wrigley Field, the Pirates have a short-sighted rotation. But Jeff Locke has a sense his sights already have to be on 2014.

A.J. Burnett will pitch the opener of the series in Cincinnati on Friday. Then it's undeclared. However, if the games are still meaningful, Charlie Morton, who started here Monday, could go Saturday on his regular rest. And if the Bucs still need Sunday's season finale, Francisco Liriano could bounce back on three days' rest from his Wednesday start here.

The scenario omits Locke, whose August-September ERA shot to 7.05 with his one-inning, five-run turn on Sunday against the Reds in PNC Park.

It was not the swan song Locke wanted to sing for a season in which he was a National League All-Star.

"I always go back to how I made this team, how I barely sneaked in," said Locke, thinking of the door that opened for him by Liriano's recovery from a fractured right arm, "then the kind of season I had. Going from the All-Star Game to kinda ... I don't want to say completely falling apart, because I don't feel like I have. I know the results aren't the same.

"But mentally, I don't feel like I'm under construction. Physically, I don't feel like I'm dragging. It's like looking for something in the dark; you don't know exactly what you're looking for or where it is. I still feel confident and strong when I go out there. Like [Sunday], I felt I was the Pirates' best option to win that game. It's the way you have to continue to think."

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.

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