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Locke healthy, but won't be ready for start of season

Locke healthy, but won't be ready for start of season play video for Locke healthy, but won't be ready for start of season

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Jeff Locke has pronounced himself back, running on all cylinders. He also realizes he is likely running out of time to be a part of the Pirates' season-opening rotation.

The left-hander went through a 45-pitch session in the bullpen on Friday. He felt good, with no reminders of the right-side discomfort that surfaced soon after his only spring outing, two innings on Feb. 27. Locke expects to throw live batting practice on Monday.

"Then maybe get in a game," Locke said. "As far as I'm concerned, I'm back to normal. I hope to get back out there. Watching gets a little old."

Opening Day, two weeks away, is out. Even if the Bucs did not need a fifth starter until April 14 due to two off days, Locke would be a long shot for that. However, manager Clint Hurdle said after Sunday's 5-0 spring win over the Phillies in Clearwater that he is more likely to share the load and use a fifth starter earlier, which definitely rules Locke out.

So Locke's more realistic expectation is being ready, if needed, by the first of May.

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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