MILWAUKEE -- The Pirates made a roster move before Thursday's game in Milwaukee, sending outfielder Jaff Decker back to Triple-A Indianapolis as a corresponding move that allowed the club to activate starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez.
This was Decker's second go-round with a big league club after appearing in 13 games and hitting .154 for the San Diego Padres last year. After getting traded early in the offseason as part of the package in exchange for Minor Leaguer Alex Dickerson, Decker has batted .238 at Indy. He was hitless in three plate appearances with the Pirates.
Manager Clint Hurdle said before Thursday's game that the pending move did not come down to an either/or circumstance between Decker and Starling Marte, whose scheduled return from back tightness was unclear at the start of the series. Marte pinch-hit Wednesday in the eighth, stayed in the game and delivered a two-run double in Pittsburgh's 4-1 victory.
Marte was not, however, in the lineup Thursday.
"He's not starting today; can he come off the bench and play? Yes," Hurdle said. "We feel this is the best way to go about his return to play."
Rodriguez, newly returned from the 15-day disabled list after incurring knee inflammation, has struggled to find a groove both at the Major League level and in his two rehab starts.
"That was one of the challenges he was having, not being able to get any downhill angle," Hurdle said. "The ball became flat because he wasn't able to create that based on the injury. We feel like we're in a better place. He's done two sides in between [now and] the last time he went out on rehab and pitched. We've got to get him out there and see what we have and see what he's able to bring."
Rodriguez came into Thursday's start a career 4-8 with a 6.39 ERA in 14 starts at Miller Park.
"This has been a challenging place for him in the past, somewhat similarly to [Francisco] Liriano," Hurdle said. "Liriano was able to show up last night, and Wandy needs to go out there and be aggressive, get to work downhill and change some speeds, get us to a good part of the game with a chance to win. That's the goal of every starting pitcher coming out. You got to see a pretty good blueprint last night right in front of him with how Francisco pitched. That might help."
JR Radcliffe is a contributor to MLB.com. Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.