Jaku to start Saturday?


HOUSTON — Reports that Kevin Hart would start Saturday against the Astros were premature. Hart started and pitched five innings tonight for Triple-A Indianapolis, taking him out of the mix for tomorrow.

The Pirates have played cloak-and-dagger with their pitching plans, saying only that righty Chris Jakubauskas, who today was called up from Indy, was “an option” to make a spot start tomorrow. Perhaps they wanted to make sure Jaku wasn’t needed in long relief tonight — you never can tell, given the recent rash of quick, ugly outings by Pirates starters — before tabbing him for Saturday’s game.

Even after tonight’s 4-3 loss, Pirates manager John Russell declined to name his starter.

“We’ll decide early tomorrow morning,” Russell said.

Jaku went 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA in two starts for Indy. He was sent out midway through spring training to focus on being more efficient.

“I’ve gotten more consistent and gotten back in the (strike) zone,” he said.

— Hart, by the way, was the winning pitcher in Indy’s 6-1 win against Louisville. He gave up one run on five hits, walked one and struck out five.

— To clear a spot for Jakubauskas on the active roster, infielder Argenis Diaz was optioned to Indy. Diaz became expendable when Bobby Crosby made a fast recovery from a shoulder injury. Third baseman Andy LaRoche (back spasms) was out of action tonight, but might be able to pinch-hit Saturday and perhaps start on Sunday. Then again, the Pirates have been saying almost every day since Saturday that LaRoche “should” be able to play the next day, so stay tuned …

— Right-hander Ross Ohlendorf (back spasms) is scheduled to pitch off a mound Saturday. He’ll make at least one rehab start in the minors before coming off the disabled list.

— There was a closed-door, players-only meeting this afternoon. A few players spoke up to clear the air after Thursday’s 20-0 debacle against the Milwaukee Brewers.