Morning briefing: Game 8 @ Blue Jays


DUNEDIN, Fla. — Jeff Locke was supposed to start today, but he felt some tightness in his side a couple of days ago while throwing a bullpen. He’s still working out daily a McKechnie Field, but will not throw off a mound for a few days. Locke believes they caught the injury early enough that it will not lead to too much down time. … Gaby Sanchez, who’d been out with a gimpy knee, is back in the lineup today and will be there tomorrow as well against the Jays at McKechnie Field.

>> I was asked via Twitter yesterday why Pedro Alvarez has gotten so much playing time early in camp. Alvarez played in five of the first six games (he did not make the trip to Dunedin today) and is tied with Gregory Polanco for the team lead with 15 at-bats. “There’s a reason for it,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We’re trying to bundle at-bats differently for all these guys and give them an opportunity to find some rhythm. The only guys who haven’t played back-to-back games are (Andrew) McCutchen and (Russell) Martin; they’re not going to. Pedro’s spring trainings have been challenging. Obviously, the season can turn out different, but nobody likes to have to battle for an extended period. If we can give him some help along the way, like by giving him (lots) of at-bats in a short period of time, that’s what we’ll do.”

Players starting to take the field on a hazy morning in Dunedin.
Players starting to take the field on a hazy morning in Dunedin.

Pirates (5-1-1) @ Blue Jays (4-3), 1:05 p.m., Florida Auto Exchange Stadium
Radio: 93.7 FM Weather: Hazy, 73 degrees
Pirates: 1. Starling Marte LF, 2. Chris Dickerson CF, 3. Neil Walker DH, 4. Gaby Sanchez 1B, 5. Travis Snider RF, 6. Brent Morel 3B, 7. Tony Sanchez C, 8. Josh Harrison 2B, 9. Clint Barmes SS. Jay Jackson RHP
Blue Jays: 1. Chris Getz 2B, 2. Steve Tolleson LF, 3. Jose Bautista RF, 4. Edwin Encarnacion 1B, 5. Brett Lawrie 3B, 6. Dioner Navarro C, 7. Josh Thole DH, 8. Anthony Gose CF, 9. Jonathan Diaz SS. Brandon Morrow RHP
Today’s backups: Nevin Ashely, Carlos Paulino, Jacob Stallings, Robert Andino, Chase d’Arnaud, Blake Davis, Walker Gourley, Matt Hague, Alen Hanson, Andrew Lambo, Michael Martinez, Chris McGuiness, Gift Ngoepe, Taylor Lewis, Gregory Polanco, Junior Sosa, Jose Tabata.
Today’s other pitchers: Scheduled: Joely Rodriguez, Duke Welker, Zack Thornton, Daniel Schlereth and Jake Brigham. Minor leaguers: Ryan Beckman, Brandon Mann, Seth McClung and Jhonathan Ramos.
– Rob Biertempfel