Locke to make '14 debut with Wandy on mend

Locke to make '14 debut with Wandy on mend

PITTSBURGH -- Jeff Locke's pitching and diligence earned him the comeback chance he will get Monday night, yet giving him the start against the Giants was also the product of circumstances.

Veteran left-hander Wandy Rodriguez's recovery from right knee inflammation remains on track, but the team staff prefers for him to make one more Minor League rehab start. Regardless, because of two off-days in the next eight days, the Pirates will not need a fifth starter again until May 13, so activating Rodriguez off the DL now made little sense.

Hence, Locke gets a shot to get his career back on the right track.

"The week's theme seems to be overcoming challenges," manager Clint Hurdle said, referring, among other things, to the Bucs' consecutive comeback wins over Toronto, "and he's certainly had his share since the second half of last season. This is a great opportunity for him to embrace what he has and to keep focused on where he wants to go, and how to get there."

The big league start will be the first since Sept. 22 for Locke, whose slide from midseason All-Star status led to his late-season removal from the rotation. Locke was also left off the Pirates' postseason roster.

Rodriguez's rehab start is penciled in for Tuesday, with the location (Double-A Altoona or Triple-A Indianapolis) not yet determined.

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.