9/13/2013 12:15 A.M. ET
Bucs still trying to get Marte's bat back
By George Von Benko / Special to MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- Pirates left fielder Starling Marte (right hand contusion) was activated from the disabled list on Sept. 7, but has only appeared as a defensive replacement or pinch-runner since then. He tried to swing a bat prior to Thursday's 3-1 win over the Cubs.
He pinch-ran for Gaby Sanchez in the eighth inning, but was picked off, and he remained in the game to play left field in the ninth, but no balls were hit his way.
"He's out swinging against Wandy Rodriguez," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said before the game about Marte, whose last at-bat came on Aug. 18 and is hitting .282 on the season. "Physically, he's able to run and we had him in the game on Wednesday playing defense -- his throwing is back in place. The last piece is swing the bat with aggressive swings, and he's going out there to do that."
The Pirates would love to get Marte's bat back in the lineup for the stretch drive, as they're in the hunt for the National League Central title.
"I don't know how much pain he is going through," Hurdle said. "We'll find out about that, as well we'll find out what the pain was. It could be minimal. I saw some early swings, and he was letting it go and it will be about velocity and spin and if that's going to be a challenge and we'll try and replicate that off of some of the pitching machines. We'll take one of the pitchers and we might have to use him one day for some live stuff to piece it together."
Bucs say all is well between Barmes, Burnett
PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates tried to defuse any clubhouse drama between shortstop Clint Barmes and pitcher A.J. Burnett following a minor spat during Wednesday's 7-5 win over the Texas Rangers.
Burnett forced a batter to hit a ground ball to where the shortstop Barmes would normally be positioned. The ball was able to sneak through the infield because Barmes was positioned closer to second base. Burnett yelled at Barmes, voicing his displeasure.
Barmes downplayed the situation prior to Thursday night's game against the Cubs.
"It's on us to make that move," Barmes said. "Obviously I felt that where I was was where I needed to be and I had a couple of balls get by me. I made an adjustment, and we turned a double play. I was excited and he was excited about the double play. I think in a lot of ways there was a little bit more that went on from outside than really what was going on inside. I think it's overblown, but that's just me. I don't see any issues in here. We talked after the game, and we talked during the game after what happened. There was a lot more blown up than needs to be, we're definitely good."
"What's a big issue in here is not the same as what's a big issue out there," Pirates' manager Clint Hurdle said. "Basically, it's done. It was done yesterday by the time everybody got in the clubhouse."
After Hurdle spoke with the media, Burnett then shouted at reporters in the clubhouse.
"I don't have a problem with Clint Barmes, I had a problem with the [bleeping] shift," Burnett said.
Wandy throws simulated game on Thursday
PITTSBURGH -- Pirates lefty Wandy Rodriguez (left forearm tightness) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 6, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL. He is getting closer to a possible return.
He felt arm discomfort during an Aug. 19 bullpen session and again during an Aug. 22 simulated game, but he was found to have no structural damage in his pitching arm after being examined on Aug. 27 by noted orthopedist James Andrews in Gulf Breeze, Fla. Though Andrews gave Rodriguez the go-ahead to begin a throwing program on Sept. 3, he also made a diagnosis of arthritis of the left elbow. He made a rehab start for Indianapolis on Sept. 6.
Rodriguez threw a simulated game prior to Thursday night's game with the Cubs. If that goes well, he likely would be activated.
"I left and he had thrown 32 pitches and seemed to be in a good place," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We'll wait till we get to the next step. It's one thing at a time. We'll see how he throws today and we'll see how he feels tomorrow, and then we'll plan out the next step. I think he's getting close, but we're going to find out more today with him throwing four innings and trying to get to 70 pitches, that will give us more information to work with and then you add that on to how he feels tomorrow and those will be indicators to help us decide and map out what's in front of us."
• Russell Martin leads all Major League catchers with 34 caught stealings and his 3.19 catcher's ERA ranks second. Martin also leads National League catchers with a .998 fielding percentage, having made just two errors in 887 chances.
On Thursday, he made an alert play to snag a popped up bunt with two men on and nobody out in the ninth.
• In support of the ongoing commitment from Major League Baseball, its clubs and the players to increase opportunities for youth participation in baseball and softball, the Pirates are teaming up with the Baseball Tomorrow Fund (BTF) to host an equipment collection drive on Federal Street prior to the Friday's game vs. the Cubs at PNC Park.
On Friday, fans are invited to donate new and used equipment, which will benefit the Pittsburgh Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program.
In conjunction with the equipment drive, the Baseball Tomorrow Fund will award a grant of $5,000 to the Pittsburgh RBI for the purchase of new equipment.
George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.