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07/08/12 6:02 PM ET

Pirates split McDonald, Burnett in second half

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates' revised rotation has a new look and a new leader. James McDonald will get the ball first in Milwaukee on Friday, when the Bucs will begin the second-half defense of their division lead.

Manager Clint Hurdle and pitching coach Ray Searage adjusted the lineup of starting pitchers based on several factors, but the overriding objective was to vary opponents' looks by separating hard-throwing right-handers McDonald and A.J. Burnett.

In the new alignment, McDonald will be followed by Kevin Correia, then Burnett will go in the final game of the weekend series against the Brewers. Jeff Karstens and Erik Bedard are on tap for the first two games of the ensuing series, in Colorado.

The shuffle is surprising given the success McDonald and Burnett have had since they began following each other. Entering Burnett's start Sunday against the Giants, the Pirates had a record of 10-1 in those games.

"We did want to split them up, to maybe present a different look after each guy throws," Hurdle said. "Having them back to back, you can say we're going for the kill, that's true. I don't know if there's a perfect equation, but we looked at a bunch of different ways to go, and this is what we came up with, and we're comfortable with it."

Getting pushed to the back of the rotation will give Bedard 11 days between starts to work through his recent problems. The left-hander has not made it through the fifth inning in four of his last seven starts.

"This gives Erik the opportunity to throw a couple of sides and work on some things, so it's time he'll benefit from," Hurdle said. "He's healthy, which is one of the most frustrating things for him. He's going through a tough stretch. We're trying to make sense of it all, and he's been good with his part of it."

McGehee leaves early with groin strain

PITTSBURGH -- Casey McGehee had to come out of Sunday's game after incurring a mild left groin strain delivering a two-run single that gave the Pirates a nine-run lead over San Francisco.

Manager Clint Hurdle could not offer an update after the Pirates' 13-2 victory on the prognosis for McGehee who, according to a member of the team's athletic training staff, was still undergoing tests.

McGehee's drive to the deepest corner of PNC Park scored Neil Walker from second base and Andrew McCutchen from first, but McGehee stopped at first, hunched over with hands on knees.

After briefly consulting with an athletic trainer, with Hurdle in tow, McGehee walked off the field and was replaced by pinch-runner Gorkys Hernandez.

McGehee buckled slightly as he ripped Brad Penny's first pitch to left-center and was limping by the time he took a couple of steps out of the batter's box.

Presley doing well in recovery from head injury

PITTSBURGH -- Alex Presley has resumed "strenuous" workouts to determine whether he will be able to rejoin the active roster when the Pirates begin the second half of the season Friday in Milwaukee.

Presley has been on the seven-day disabled list since displaying concussion-like symptoms after being jarred on an attempt to make a diving catch in left field Tuesday.

"He picked up his workout activity yesterday and had a very good day," manager Clint Hurdle said Sunday. "He's doing more strenuous stuff today, and we'll engage him in one more very strenuous workout on Thursday [in Milwaukee] then make a decision on [what] we need to do."

Worth noting

• When Neil Walker dispatched some clubbies Saturday to acquire a bunch of gold crowns for Pirates players to wear as an homage to pitcher (King) James McDonald, their first stop was a Burger King near PNC Park. The manager at the fast-food place, however, didn't want to give away that many of the crowns. So, the next stop: a party supply store, where the desired headgear was purchased in time for everyone to wear following McDonald's 3-1 victory over the Giants.

• Thanks to the rain delay in the third inning of Saturday's game, Garrett Jones had 27 minutes to think about being in an 0-and-2 hole to San Francisco right-hander Ryan Vogelsong. Talk about overthinking an at-bat: "I'm figuring he'll come right after me out of the delay with a fastball. He ended up flipping two slow curves up there," said Jones, who flied out to right field on the second hook.

• Striking out the side in the eighth inning Saturday gave Jason Grilli 54 whiffs in 33 2/3 innings this season. In 32 2/3 innings last season, Grilli had 37 punchouts.

The Last Word
"It will be like batting practice. Except for no batting cage, in front of 40,000 people, with the whole U.S. watching -- that'll be the only difference."
-- Andrew McCutchen, anticipating the experience of Monday's night State Farm Home Run Derby in Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium.

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.