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Pregame: Wandy Rodriguez to start Thursday in Milwaukee

Brian Kersey

-P- Wandy Rodriguez will come off the disabled list and start Thursday against the Milwaukee Brewers. Hurdle said that the he has "made progress and is feeling better."

Rodriguez was placed on the disabled list April 21 (retroactive to April 20), with a knee injury. Hurdle said that "as of right now" nothing else seemed to be wrong and all the knee needed was to be drained.

This season, Rodriguez has pitched 20 innings and posted a 7.65 ERA, 3.15 HR/9.

-P- Andrew McCutchen is not in tonight's lineup. Starling Marte will start in center, with Tabata and Harrison (two leadoff men!!) batting at the top of the order. The lineups were not released when Hurdle met with the press, so there is no information about why McCutchen is not in the lineup. Most likely, it's simply a day off.

The lineup: Tabata LF, Harrison RF, Walker 2B, Alvarez 3B, Marte CF, Davis 1B, Sanchez C, Mercer SS, Volquez P.

-P- Jason Grill threw a bullpen session on Monday, and another one yesterday. Hurdle said that he Grilli is starting to "feel aggressive" and is "heading in the right direction."

When Grilli returns, it's likely he will be worked back into the closer's role over the course of a few games.

"We're going to go at this one day at a time, based on what we feel and what we see," Hurdle said. "But  I hate to take away a guy from his job because of an injury."

Hurdle went on to reference the way the club reintroduced Grilli back into the role last season after his injury. When he returned in September, Grilli pitched six games in which he made appearances in the seventh and eighth innings. Finally, on September 21, he began to close games again. Expect a similar integration process this time around.

-P- Tonight's Cardinals' starter, Lance Lynn, has one glaring weakness in his stat line, platoon splits:

Career: RHB .625, LHB .795

2013: RHB .625, LHB .765

2014: RHB .596, LHB .779.

To reiterate a point we made yesterday, with the suspension of Travis Snider, and the promotion of Brent Morel (instead of a left handed outfielder), the Pirates will be without an additional left handed outfielder tonight.

-P- The Pirates have made something of a habit of comeback victories this season, coming from behind 10 times, which ties them for second behind the Tigers, who have 11.

Some of their success is due to hitting very well in innings seven-through-nine. They have a 126 OPS+, fourth best the Major Leagues in the late innings.

Finally, here is a breakdown of the team's winning percentage when entering each inning behind:

Sixth: .250 (.193 league average)

Seventh: .176 (.152)

Eighth: .062 (.101)

Ninth: .059 (.054)

(Statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference)

-P- Hudle always has a bunch of books stacked on his desk. Many are baseball related, but most typically have something to do with leadership. Today, he was asked about a particular book that was sitting out, Use all the Crayons: A colorful guide to human happiness, by Chris Rodell. Hurdle seems to be very taken by the book because he told the press "go ahead and give it a plug."

So, now you have some insight into what the manager is reading. I will certainly report back to the BucsDugout community when I see Charlie's book, Dry Land in Hurdle's office.

-P- The Cardinals beat the Pirates, 5-4, in the Pirates' clubhouse this afternoon.

In a spirited gaming session watched by about eight players and the assembled press, Tony Sanchez, who was playing MLB The Show, failed to rally the Bucs in the ninth. The game ended on consecutive strikeouts of Clint Barmes and Starling Marte. Trevor Rosenthal got the save.

While his sim-self was batting, Starling Marte complained to Sanchez that he was "too slow" on the controller. Sim-Rosenthal struck out sim-Marte on a high heater that was out of the strike zone to end the game.

-P- After his big hit last night, Neil Walker is now has the fourth highest WPA in the Major leagues, 1.86 wins.