Wanted: Some starting Ps

PITTSBURGH – Less than halfway through the season, the Pittsburgh Pirates are currently without three-fifths of their opening day starting rotation.

Francisco Liriano was placed on the disabled list Wednesday after he strained an oblique muscle while pitching Wednesday against the Chicago Cubs.

Gerrit Cole is already on the disabled list with shoulder fatigue, and Wandy Rodriguez was released last month.

Jeff Locke and Brandon Cumpton are in the rotation as replacements, and now the Pirates need a starter to take Liriano’s place Sunday in Miami.

The prime candidates are Stolmy Pimentel, who was activated from the disabled list on Wednesday, and Casey Sadler.

At this point, Sadler would seem to be the most likely option. He was the losing pitcher in Tuesday’s game. He last started on May 25 for Class AAA Indianapolis.

Pimentel had been on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation.

The Pirates could also bring up Vance Worley from Class AAA, but he would have to be added to the 40-man roster.

Meanwhile, Cole threw from 90 feet on flat ground on Wednesday afternoon. He is expected to throw in the bullpen on Friday in Miami. There seems to be increased hope that Cole will be able to come off the disabled list when his 15-day term expires next Thursday.

Starring role

Manager Clint Hurdle has been selected as one of the National League coaches for the July 15 All-Star game in Minnesota.

Hurdle got the call from St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, who will manage the National League team.

“It’s a humbling opportunity,” Hurdle said.

Hurdle also served as a coach at the 2004 game and managed the National League in 2008 because his Colorado Rockies team had reached the World Series in the previous season.

“I’d like to manage one more,” Hurdle said with a smile.

Learning curve

Hurdle said there will be extra pre-game work to have Gregory Polanco get accustomed to reading angles in right field at PNC Park.

Polanco moved to right this season after playing center field in the minor leagues. He misplayed a ball in his major league debut that was charitably scored a double.

Anthony Rizzo’s drive hit off Polanco’s glove as he moved back to play the ball.

Just watching

General manager Neal Huntington spent some time watching practice at the Steelers training facility on Wednesday afternoon.

The Steelers are currently engaged in the second week of organized team activities.

Hit show

Root Sports reported that Tuesday’s Polanco debut was the second-highest rated Pirates broadcast this season.

In the fold

The Pirates signed three of their top 10 picks from last week’s draft: 5th rounder Michael Suchy, an outfielder from Florida Gulf Coast, and two righthanded pitchers – 6th round choice Tyler Eppler from San Houston State and 10th round pick Alex McRae from Jacksonville.

They will all report to short-season Class A Jamestown.

First-round pick Cole Tucker is expected to sign in the next day or two.