HOUSTON -- Looking out of uniform to local media and fans, and to his former teammates, Wandy Rodriguez strolled across Minute Maid Park after a throwing session in the visitor's bullpen.It may understandably be a "hard situation for me, very strange," but the newest member of the Pirates did not misplace his "we." "I'll try to help this team -- they're playing very good now. We need to make the playoffs," Rodriguez said midway through his first afternoon in the Bucs' No. 51 uniform. "That's why they picked me up. They want to play in the playoffs, so I'll do the best I can." His first chance at that comes Saturday night, when he'll face the Astros and their starter ... well, we don't yet know who that will be, since Houston has to fill the rotation spot formerly occupied by Rodriguez. The longtime subject of trade rumors, Rodriguez was happy that when a deal went down, it was with the Pirates. "They kept trying to trade me, but I didn't know where I was going. Then they told me Pittsburgh, and I felt good," Rodriguez said. "I'll try to help these guys." Rodriguez will be of considerable help to the newest guy. He and Starling Marte, who made his Major League debut Thursday night, become the only two natives of the Dominican Republic on the Bucs' roster. "I'm happy to have another Dominican in the clubhouse," Marte said. "He's a veteran guy and I hope to be able to pick his brain. He can lead me in the right direction."
A difficult decision: Hurdle moves Correia to bullpen
HOUSTON -- Minutes after manager Clint Hurdle clarified a Pirates starting rotation impacted by the trade for Wandy Rodriguez, he was asked whether he'd always dreamed of having a rotation strong enough to force the winner of six straight into the bullpen."Never crossed my mind," answered Hurdle, who had just announced that Kevin Correia was getting the bump to relief work. Correia, a 31-year-old right-hander, got the news while in the best streak of his 10-year career. He has won six straight decisions in his last seven starts. But as the admittedly least-overpowering, most to-contact pitcher in the rotation, he will step aside for Rodriguez, who will make his Pirates debut in Saturday night's game here against his recent Astros teammates, Erik Bedard, originally set to start that game, is being pushed back to a Monday start in Chicago. Due to the pre-series debriefings going on in the clubhouse, reporters had to leave following their session with Hurdle, thus Correia's views on the move were not immediately available. "He was disappointed, without doubt," Hurdle said. "First time in his career he wins six straight, and is moved to the 'pen? I had to wrestle with that one. It's one of the hardest decisions we've had to make. But we're best served right now by moving him out there. "I don't think [Jeff] Karstens is in position, physically, to move to the bullpen. Bedard isn't either. No disrespect to Kevin, and I told him that. He needs to be encouraged by what he's been able to do." Correia will complement Brad Lincoln as a long man. Hurdle acknowledged he will probably need a couple of days to come to terms with the move, and would not be available in relief until Saturday -- when he could very well take over on the mound for the man who is taking over for him in the rotation.
"Enough stuff going on today? Do you have enough things to write about?"
-- Pirates bench coach Jeff Banister, looking out for reporters on the day both Starling Marte and Wandy Rodriguez laced it up for the first time with the Bucs.
Correia, freshly moved to the bullpen, is the first Pirates pitcher to both lose and win five straight decisions in a season since Vernon Law, in 1965. However, that season by Law deserves special mention as one of the oddest on record: In turn, The Deacon lost five straight, won eight straight, lost another four in a row -- then won his last nine decisions. Thursday's game began the Pirates' longest road trip of the season -- four in Houston, followed by three each in Chicago and Cincinnati. The Bucs embarked on it with an away record of 22-26. However, it is worth recalling that they dropped their first five road games of the season, making them 22-21 since. Oddly, the Pirates and Astros have met in three series in Pittsburgh since their previous Minute Maid Park encounter, last Aug. 29-31. The Bucs won eight of those 10 encounters at PNC Park, including the last six in a row.
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.