NEW YORK -- Speaking to the media prior to Wednesday's game against the Mets, manager John Russell said that the club has not yet decided whether Zach Duke will remain in the rotation for the rest of the year.
Asked when that decision might come, Russell replied: "Today or tomorrow."
Russell was expected to meet with general manager Neal Huntington, who has accompanied the team on this road trip, and pitching coach Ray Searage on Wednesday before finalizing Duke's immediate plans. Russell had virtually nothing else to offer on the topic prior to that meeting.
"If we decide to do something, we'll discuss the options at that point," Russell said. "I really don't have anything to say on it."
Duke's tenuous hold on his rotation spot is the result of a dismal season turned disastrous recently. In his last two starts, Duke has lasted a total of 4 1/3 innings, allowing 15 hits and 11 earned runs in that span. Overall this season, opponents have batted .326 against him.
It's unknown what the Pirates would do with Duke if he comes out of the rotation, though he would be free to do side work with Searage until the conclusion of the season. The Pirates aren't teeming with replacement options, though Daniel McCutchen and Joe Martinez appear the likeliest candidates to step into a rotation vacancy if there is one.
Lincoln ready to begin work out of bullpen
NEW YORK -- Summoned back to the Majors on Sept. 7, Brad Lincoln has yet to take the mound for the Pirates. That is expected to change soon.
Lincoln threw an extended side session at Citi Field on Wednesday in what was his latest one-on-one work with pitching coach Ray Searage. The pair has been focused on getting Lincoln back on track mechanically after the right-hander made some detrimental changes to his delivery early in the summer.
Manager John Russell -- after noting that Lincoln has "been doing some good things" in his side work -- said he expects Lincoln to be available out of the bullpen beginning with the team's next homestand. The Pirates open that nine-game stay at PNC Park on Friday.
Lincoln last pitched competitively on Sept. 6, when he lasted 2 1/3 innings in Triple-A Indianapolis' final game of the season. That was one of two starts the right-hander made with Indianapolis after being briefly sidelined with neck stiffness.
Taillon, Allie heading to instructional league
NEW YORK -- Minor League players participating in the organization's fall instructional league will report to Bradenton, Fla., on Sunday in advance of Monday's first workout.
The club's instructional league roster includes 46 pitchers and another 46 position players. Highlighting the group of participating pitchers are Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie, the organization's top two picks in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.
For Taillon and Allie, this will mark their first professional playing experience. The pair joined the Pirates' short-season Class A State College affiliate at the end of the Spikes' season, but their time there was limited to observation.
The Pirates' instructional league, which will take place at Pirate City, has two ending dates. Players who have already had a fairly full season workload will depart on Oct. 9. The league will then conclude for everyone else on Oct. 23.
Double-A Altoona dropped the first game of the best-of-five Eastern League Championship Series to Trenton on Monday, 3-2, in 10 innings. The Curve scored both runs off Andy Pettitte, who was making a Minor League rehab start. Infielder Chase d'Arnaud hit a homer off Pettitte in the first. Josh Harrison drove in the second run with a third-inning single. Lefty starter Rudy Owens took a no-decision after allowing two runs in five innings. He struck out seven. The Curve face Trenton in Game 2 in Altoona on Wednesday. ... Manager John Russell said that while Jeff Karstens is progressing well, no determination has been made as to whether the right-hander will pitch again this season. ... With Chris Leroux's appearance in Tuesday's game, the Pirates have now used 51 different players this season. That is a new franchise high.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.