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Pregame: A.J. Burnett returns

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

A.J returns; Hurdle ready to watch

With A.J. Burnett set to make his first start since July 30 tonight, Clint Hurdle was not eager to discuss how he would manage the right-hander's workload tonight.

"Sit back and watch," Hurdle told reporters. "Do what I'm going to do. Sit back and watch everybody. That's my pat answer. Sit back and enjoy."

Conspicuously absent from Hurdle's remarks was any direct discussion about Burnett's overall health.

"I do believe he's put himself in the best position he could possibly put himself into to pitch and compete," Hurdle said.

Harrison gets start at second

Josh Harrison will start at second and bat second against Brewers starter Wily Peralta. Hurdle explained that Neil Walker was due for a rest and that he likes the additional range that Harrison brings to the position.

"Defensively, I think it might add a little bit," Hurdle said. "With A.J. on the mound, we're trying to put some lateral defenders up the middle, on the left side."

Relations better than ever

Even though ejections are up over last season, Hurdle said that instant replay has improved relations between managers and umpires overall.

"Communication," is Hurdle's simple explanation for increased collegiality. "They've taken out the initial angst over a call."

He went on to explain delays during replay-reviews allow more time for small talk.

"There's all kinds of questions going on out there now," Hurdle said. "We didn't have time for all that before. You're yelling and not listening and getting ugly."

Back end of the bullpen gets night off

After throwing a cumulative 84 pitches the past two nights, both Tony Watson and Mark Melancon are unavailable tonight. Should a closing opportunity present itself, Joakim Soria will fill the role.

"I've got a guy with over 200 major league saves who would probably have the opportunity to close tonight," Hurdle said.

Cole, Wild Card

Hurdle reiterated that Gerrit Cole will start one of the doubleheader games against the Cubs on Tuesday.

"Then there is a regular rotation set up from there following all the way to the end of the season," Hurdle said. "Potentially set up for a wild card game or division series."

Hurdle also clarified that, technically, Cole is being pushed back rather than skipping a start.