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Pregame: Is Joe Blanton an option to start?

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Blanton a possible fifth starter?

With Jeff Locke scuffling since the All-Star Break (5.87 ERA in seven starts), the Pirates might begin thinking about making a change, or at least experimenting with, slotting someone else in at the fifth spot in the rotation. If they go in that direction, one candidate would seem to be Joe Blanton. Since arriving in Pittsburgh, the right-hander has posted a 0.59 ERA, while striking out 20 in 15.1 innings pitched.

Hurdle was asked today if Blanton might be starting option in the future.

"I don't know, we'll see," Hurdle said, appearing to know exactly why the question was asked. "I think he's got the experience to do it. If for no other reason than to piggy-back any other issue. He's shown the ability to do it. You got think about the pros and the cons."

Hurdle added that one variable that would factor into the decision is whether someone else that could fill his long relief role.

Burnett update

A.J. Burnett threw 25 fastballs off the mound Thursday. He was scheduled for a light side toss Saturday afternoon.

Bubble gum bucket basher

Clint Hurdle passed along a humorous anecdote involved Jung-ho Kang and the unlucky bubble gum bucket in the Pirates clubhouse. After linining into a double play in the ninth inning Wednesday night, Kang threw his batting helmet and exploded the bubble gum bucket in the Pirates dugout. Hurdle revealed that the bucket was on the receiving end of another blow from Kang Friday night.

"I know what happened last night was funny, because he has a need to swing the bat in the dugout that we're working with," Hurdle said. "And he hit the gum bucket again, by accident [with his bat]. So, we were able to visit [what happened two nights ago]. ‘Dude come on, let it go. That two nights ago when you lined out to first base.'"

Red State Hurdle

Out of the blue, Clint Hurdle revealed his partisan affiliation this afternoon. Discussing in a general way how Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart see things differently behind the plate, Hurdle said their differing perspective were similar to how people have differing political views. It was in that context that, perhaps to the surprise of no one, Hurdle revealed that he is a Republican.