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Clarity Coming On Pirates' Fourth Starter

BRADENTON (93-7 The FAN) - Pirates manager Clint Hurdle says a decision is coming soon as to whether Jeff Locke or Vance Worley will fill the final job in the starting rotation.

"Know that you have two very, very qualified pitchers posting up for one spot," Hurdle said.

The 27-year-old Worley gave up 5 runs in the first inning against Atlanta on Thursday and has a 5.29 ERA this Spring, giving up 17 hits in 17 innings. He rebounded from a tough 2013 and in his first year with the Pirates was 8-4 with a 2.85 ERA with a near 4-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio last year.

Does Worley think he has done enough to fill that final position?

"Sure, you know all you can do is go out and compete and they are either going to like what they see or not, and they will make a decision after that," Worley said.

Locke, who is also 27, will start on Friday and as a 9.00 ERA this Spring with 11 hits given up in 8 innings. Locke has started 61 games with the Pirates since 2011 and was 7-6 last year with a 3.91 ERA.

"One thing for sure, there has been a lot of talk about this competition," Locke said. "I think me and Vance are just trying to find any way to make this club better. We both think this is a better club when we are both on it, whether one of us is starting and one in the bullpen."

"No matter how many innings you throw in Spring Training," Locke said, "it's not going to be a big enough sample size to really determine for a starting pitcher, 'hey, this is what this guy is going to bring to the table for a season'."

Each has low walk totals and Hurdle said it will be a tough decision either way, as there is support in the clubhouse for both guys.

"It's going to make the team better," Hurdle said. "I don't think we can make a bad choice. Obviously, one guy will probably be happier than the other. But I don't think we can make a bad choice on the quality of work both have done during their time in a Pirates uniform."

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