ST. LOUIS -- While Starling Marte works his way back to all-around playing condition, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle might channel Billy Hamilton and call on Marte's legs before his hands come into play.
"We might get to the point of just activating him and just using him to run, once we're comfortable with that," Hurdle said.
Hamilton is the Cincinnati prospect who set a Minor League record with his 155 steals last season. Called up by the Reds days ago, he has appeared in two games -- only as a pinch-runner, both times stealing a base and scoring a key run in the recent series with the Cardinals.
Marte last played on Aug. 18, six days before he formally went on the disabled list with a right hand contusion. During an off-day workout on Thursday, for the first time he was able to grip a bat with both hands, taking some swings off a tee.
"He's close with his throwing," Hurdle reported of the left fielder, "and he's ramped up all his running."
Complicating Marte's return is that he won't be able to have the benefit of any rehab games, with Minor League playoffs winding down. Hurdle said the club will do the best it can with alternatives.
"We'll recreate a game as much as we can," Hurdle said. "Maybe take one of the surplus arms in the bullpen and have him throw to him, make that a pitcher's assignment for the day."
Wandy might be headed for Pirates' bullpen
ST. LOUIS -- Following Friday night's start for Triple-A Indianapolis in an International League playoff game, left-hander Wandy Rodriguez's next, quick stop could be the Pirates' bullpen.
That would not necessarily be by choice. But if the Indians, who went into Friday night's game trailing Durham 2-0 in the best-of-five series, are eliminated, "we don't have any other opportunity for him to pitch but here," manager Clint Hurdle said of Rodriguez, who was shelved by a forearm strain in early June and more recently was diagnosed with arthritis.
The Indians are placing their hopes of surviving at least one more day on a marquee mound tag-team: Scheduled to follow Rodriguez and set to go either three innings or 50 pitches is top prospect Jameson Taillon. Rodriguez allowed two runs, one earned, on three hits over three innings on Friday, with one strikeout.
If Indianapolis' season ends, however, pitching coach Ray Searage and Hurdle will have to be creative to continue prepping Rodriguez for possible inclusion on a postseason staff.
"We'll deal with it and maybe look for an opportunity to roll the dice and start him and piggyback him with somebody else -- or have him behind a starter who gets knocked out early," Hurdle said.
First, of course, Rodriguez will have to show on Friday night that he is in condition to compete.
"He'll have a lot of eyes on him," Hurdle said. "It'll be the eyeball test."
First number, last word
125 2/3: Consecutive innings, stretching across 13 games, Pirates pitchers had not allowed a home run to the Cardinals, entering Friday's game between the teams.
"Maybe Craig will be back [Saturday]. Who knows? Willis Reed came back for the seventh game." -- Hurdle on Allen Craig, the dangerous Cardinals hitter expected to miss the series with a sprain of his upper left leg, with a nod toward Reed's legendary limp onto the court for the New York Knicks in the 1970 NBA Finals.
• Former Pirates infielder Dick Schofield, a hero of the 1960 stretch drive whose 19-year career began in 1953, and son Dick, whose own 14-year career ended in 1996, were teammates of at least one participant in every World Series from 1942 through 2007. That amazing fact courtesy of a recent group projects by SABR members, passed along by Bill Arnold.
• When Seattle's Raul Ibanez homered in the top of the ninth on Thursday to tie the Royals at 6, he registered his sixth late-game (seventh inning or later) tying homer since the start of the 2012 season, which tied him for the Majors' most in that span with ... Pedro Alvarez. Jose Bautista has five, and Mark Teixeira, Billy Butler and Paul Konerko have four each.
• Andrew McCutchen is one home run shy of becoming the second Pirates player ever with three straight 20-20 (home runs - stolen bases) seasons. Barry Bonds (1990-92) was first.
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.