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Pirates Notes: Jeff Locke Gets Rocked, Pirates Announce Starting Rotation

PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) - Some news after the Pirates dreadfully long 13-7 loss to the Astros at McKechnie Field. Manager Clint Hurdle said the starting rotation will be Francisco Liriano, Gerrit Cole, AJ Burnett, then either Vance Worley or Jeff Locke followed by Charlie Morton.

"We just wanted to put to rest that we've had 9 Opening Day pitchers in a row," Hurdle quipped, before adding, "Frankie has earned it in our minds and it's good when you have to talk about a number of people," mentioning Cole and Burnett.

Did Hurdle give thought to going with Cole April 6 in Cincinnati, meaning Liriano would start in the Home Opener a week later?

"We talked about all different scenarios. I think at times you can overcook this, but we had conversations about all 3 of those guys," he said.

And, based on today, it's looking like that game 4 starter will be Worley. Locke, was charged with 6 runs on 7 hits, a few hit quite hard, in 3-plus innings. He was working on fastballs on the inside and outside of the plate but "they were coming back over the plate and even the balls that didn't fall they put good swings on."

Francisco Cervelli caught Locke today.

"Probably it's not there yet, but that's how we fix problems." said Cervelli. "When things go like this we can see what's going on and then fix it."

Cervelli also says it's just as important to get to know his pitchers off the field, which could lead to some dinners. "They pay," Cervelli joked, before turning serious. "I don't care who pays. It is good for everybody. It's worked for me in the past and I'm going to keep doing it."

The Pirates wore the traditional green caps for St. Patrick's Day – but darker Forest Green this time, perhaps with a nod toward Neil Walker and the Pine-Richland HS green. Fittingly, Walker lined a HR onto the RF deck.

"Maybe the luck of the Irish," Walker joked. "I think I'm 1/8th Irish."

Walker also doubled to raise his spring average to .412

Tony Sanchez had another pinch hit and is now 9-16, with7 hits in his last 8 at-bats.

"The concept of 3 catchers is interesting," said Hurdle indicating that may be part of the roster-cutting conversation.

Sharing the same pitching turn as Locke, Charlie Morton got his 4 innings of work against minor leaguers at Pirate City, among them top prospect Josh Bell.

"My first pitch to Bell he hit off the batters eye," said Morton who threw a fastball to get strike one, or try to. "I told him that was a big league swing. Bell reminds me of Gregory Polanco."

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