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Pirates keeping close eye on Wandy's velocity

CINCINNATI -- Monday night was cold and wet, but Pirates lefty Wandy Rodriguez still managed to find a "hot zone" -- in all the wrong ways.

"His mistakes are getting covered and hit over the wall. When he's missed [with his pitches], he's missed in hot zones," manager Clint Hurdle said, meaning pitches to the hitters' liking.

Three of Rodriguez's mistakes went over the wall in the Monday portion of the suspended game completed Tuesday afternoon. All three came with a man on base, accounting for six of the Reds' runs in the suspended 7-7 tie. And those were not the young season's first far-hit mistakes by Rodriguez, whose velocity has been a couple ticks off his usual 92-93 mph.

"Sixteen innings, five home runs," Hurdle said, clearly alarmed by that trend. "It's a challenging time for him, but I'm not going to run to answers right away, because I've seen three outings and his velocity is down a tick."

The Bucs have too much pitching depth in the Minors to give a struggling starter an extremely long leash. However, Rodriguez will get every chance to show what he's got in a different kind of hot zone.

"When we get to warmer weather, he might get more acute focus, which is what we're looking for," Hurdle said. "You've got a pitcher from Latin America [the Dominican Republic] pitching in April, wet and chilly."

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer.
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