Duke will start Opening Day


BRADENTON, Fla. – Left-hander Zach Duke will start for the Pirates on Opening Day. The Pirates will play the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 5 at 1:35 p.m.

Manager John Russell chose Duke over lefty Paul Maholm and right-hander Ross Ohlendorf.

“Realistically, you could’ve picked any one of the three,” Russell said. “They all did something last year to deserve it. Ross had a great finish. Zach made the All-Star team. Paul is your consistent, steady starter. It’s not like it’s an accolade for any one guy. We feel like this balances our rotation. The way we wanted to set our rotation, (the Opener) just fell on Zach’s day”

The rotation will be Duke, Ohlendorf, Maholm, Charlie Morton and rookie right-hander Daniel McCutchen.

– In his worst outing of the spring, right-hander Ohlendorf yielded seven runs (four earned) today in an 11-1 loss against the Houston Astros. Ohlendorf threw 77 pitches in 3 2/3 innings and gave up nine hits, walked three and struck out one. “I was in bad counts a lot,” Ohlendorf said. “I wasn’t commanding the fastball like I needed to.”

– Jeff Clement drove in the Pirates’ run with a two-out single in the first inning. Clement, a converted catcher, also made his first error in 12 games at first base. T.J. Steele reached when a throw from third baseman Andy LaRoche short-hopped Clement and got past him.

– In the third inning, Garrett Jones made an excellent play in deep right field. Edwin Maysonet hit a screamer with the wind toward the right field corner, but Jones tracked it down for a running catch. “That wind was really blowing,” Jones said, grinning.

– LaRoche turned in the game’s defensive gem. He snatched a bunt by Felipe Paulino and made a perfect, running throw across his body to nail Drew Locke at second base.

– Chris Jakubauskas likely will be in the starting rotation at Indy. That could change if he doesn’t regain some fastball velocity, which was lower than expected this spring. “

– Joel Hanrahan (elbow) and Ledezma (shoulder) will throw one inning today at Pirate City.

We didn’t see the same arm strength as what we saw with him (last year) in Seattle,” general manager Neal Huntington said. “It’s only a couple miles an hour, but it’s made a difference for Chris.”