Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has altered his rotation to ensure starter A.J. Burnett pitches on regular rest Thursday against the Dodgers at PNC Park, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Bill Brink. Burnett had been scheduled to pitch on Friday in St. Louis on five days rest as a result of Hurdle's decision to go to a six-man rotation for the time being, but Hurdle wanted to get the veteran on the mound with his normal rest.
"I think the one game pushing him back, giving him the extra day, is sufficient enough, in conversation with him, to get him back on a five-day schedule," Hurdle said.
"Keeping your staff ace in a good place, I think, would be at the top of the list."
The move bumps James McDonald, the pitcher originally slated to start Thursday, back a day in the rotation. Hurdle told Brink that McDonald will get an extra side session before returning to action on Friday to start a critical series against the Cardinals, hot on the Bucs' tail for the second National League wildcard spot. McDonald gave up seven earned runs in his last start against the Padres on Friday and has been struggling for about the last month, so the extra work might be just what he needs to start turning things around.