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Pregame: Starling Marte feeling better, still not in lineup

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Marte update

"I feel better today," Starling Marte told reporters this afternoon. "[My side] feels different. I want to make sure it continues to [feel better]. If I play, I play. If I need one more day, I need one more day."

Marte described the area of his injury as between his oblique and left rib. What he feels alternates between "sometimes tight" and "sometimes pain," but it no longer hurts when he breathes.

Unlike how he described the pain on Sunday, Marte now says that what he is feeling is "pretty different" from what he felt three years ago, when he ended up on the disabled list with an oblique strain.

"It's hard right now, because I know the team needs me in left field," Marte said. "But I need to make sure I'm okay."

Marte said that his side had been bothering him for a couple of weeks, but that it just flared up much worse during his first plate appearance on Sunday.

Marte is not in the starting lineup and Clint Hurdle was unsure whether he'd be available off the bench tonight.

Pirates prepare for Cashner

"He's like Tarzan!" Hurdle said of tonight's mound opponent, Andrew Cashner. "This guy's incredible."

Hurdle wasn't only talking about the right-hander's burly appearance, but he could have been. When I saw Cashner in the Padres clubhouse yesterday, he had one of the most impressive and intentional mullets I've seen since I became aware of mullets in the 1980s. It's truly a sight to behold.

"[He's] as competitive as anyone in the league, on both sides of the ball," Hurdle continued. "He stole a base against us last year. He scored a run as a pinch runner. He pitched very effectively."

Cashner is 3-9 with a 4.06 ERA. His 3.68 xFIP is around league average.

Rodriguez in left

With Marte out, Sean Rodriguez will again start in left field. Often, Hurdle will move Polanco to left when Marte is out, and put Josh Harrison in right field. With Harrison injured, however, Hurdle said that he prefers to keep Polanco comfortable in right and, besides, he really likes how Rodriguez plays left.

"I'm not a big fan of flipping Polanco all over the place," Hurdle said. "I want him to acclimate himself to right field."

For his career, Rodriguez is slightly below league average by UZR, -0.8, but he has already made a couple of excellent catches in left field this season.

"Rodriguez makes plays," Hurdle said. "I'm comfortable with him running out in left. Going left, going right, running back on balls."

Harrison has surgery

The Pirates announced that josh Harrison was seen by Dr. Thomas Graham, who confirmed the initial diagnosis of a torn ulnar collateral ligament in Josh's left thumb.  Harrison had surgery to repair the ligament. Typical recovery time from this injury is approximately seven weeks.

A rivalry

Hurdle doesn't think the Pirates rivalry with the Cardinals has reached Yankees vs. Red Sox proportions, but he does consider it a rivalry.

"I consider it a rivalry because they are one of the best teams in baseball every year," Hurdle said. "They have raised the bar so high and we're trying to catch them."

It's a bit different now, however, because the Pirates understand what it's like to be a team that other clubs get excited to play.

"What we found out this year, really in the first 40 games, is that we are being hunted down," Hurdle said. "And I think that was one of the dynamics that was different for this club coming into this season."

Being one of the "hunted" has given the team an "edge," Hurdle said.

"We had to revisit our nastiness all across the board," Hurdle explained. "Teams come in to beat us. Teams come in to get something done. Pitchers want to stop McCutchen. Guys want to hit [A.J.] Burnett and [Francisco] Liriano. It's a different dynamic than the past."