ST. LOUIS -- Pirates fans, conditioned by years of losing to paying uncommon attention to prospects' development on the Minor League level, have long expressed their desire this season to see certain players get the big league call.
In a couple of weeks, many of those wishes will come true. When rosters expand on Sept. 1, the Pirates will make an unspecified number of additions to help with their playoff push.
"We'll have the appropriate number [of young players] to help us be the most competitive [we can be]," said manager Clint Hurdle, who indicated internal discussions about those moves are ongoing. "We'll look at areas where we feel we need personnel to strengthen our club -- a runner, a bat, a reliever, another outfielder."
Hurdle was candid about a pair of factors that affect the number of September additions. There are financial considerations: With MLB's minimum salary at $480,000, the one-month commitment is about $75,000 per each callup, plus routine travel expenses. There are also decisions with priorities: Several Minor League affiliates are in playoff positions, including Triple-A Indianapolis, which would be the source for most callups.
"We have to be sensitive to the needs of the Triple-A team," Hurdle said, "but they need to understand the needs of the Major League team, too."
Remaining in the race for a National League postseason berth would give Hurdle and the Bucs a different perspective on a timeless debate about unfair competition between expanded September rosters. Contenders consider themselves at a disadvantage against the also-rans' parade of players.
"It can get absurd late in the season. One September, we played a team with 37 men," Hurdle said. "You can't out-manage them -- they just keep coming."
With respect to that, Hurdle has made a suggestion to Joe Torre, MLB's executive vice president of baseball operations: Require teams to select and announce the 25 actives from their expanded rosters on a day-by-day basis for each September game. Hurdle got an overall good reaction to that idea when he shared it with other managers at the last Winter Meetings.
Tweaks to Bucs' rotation may be on horizon
ST. LOUIS -- The upcoming series in San Diego will still be part of the Pirates' ongoing stretch of 20 consecutive playing days, for which they have been using a six-man starting rotation. In that sense, the pitching order against the Padres would be Kevin Correia, Wandy Rodriguez and A.J. Burnett.
However, the club has not yet announced its starters for that series, suggesting there will be a change.
"It may be changed. It may be the same," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said prior to Saturday afternoon's game here. "I'll tell you as soon as I've told the pitchers involved."
The three games in San Diego will end the string of 20 straight games, so the Pirates could resume a five-man rotation, meaning the removal again of Correia.
Hurdle could also simply again be considering juggling Burnett's spot so he remains on the fifth-day schedule he prefers. Moving Burnett into the Tuesday start would defer Rodriguez to Wednesday, when he would be pitching with six days' rest.
That very well could be the plan for Rodriguez, who has lost all three of his decisions with the Pirates and has an ERA of 5.47 for his four starts since being acquired from Houston. A sixth day of rest was also arranged for James McDonald before he blanked the Cardinals for six innings in Friday night's 2-1 win.
"That was me. That's why this game is so great -- you see people go through ruts like that, and what makes you a better player is getting through it."
-- Pirates right-hander James McDonald, asked after his six innings of two-hit, scoreless pitching on Friday who'd been that guy in his uniform putting up an 8.71 ERA in the previous six starts.
In their 2-1 Friday night victory, in which their runs scored on a wild pitch and on a passed ball, the Pirates became the first team to win when scoring two runs in that manner since July 2, 1988, when the Giants did it to the Bucs, 2-1, with both runs scoring on Barry Jones wild pitches.
Day-trippers: The Bucs will approach the final afternoon games of the series in St. Louis with 26 day wins, third most in the Majors behind Detroit (32) and Cincinnati (30). With Saturday's loss, Pittsburgh's 26-15 record in day games includes 19 wins in the last 25.
Right-hander Jason Grilli needed one strikeout to match his single-season career high of 69 in 2008, a season he split between Colorado and Arizona. The big difference is that Grilli then worked 75 innings, and he is at 44 1/3 innings this season.
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.