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Bucs using off-days to stick with four-man rotation

ATLANTA -- The Pirates have put off their decision on how to replace Jeanmar Gomez for at least one more trip through the starting rotation.

With Thursday's off-day before a three-game set in Chicago and another off-day on the following Monday, the Pirates' four healthy starters could conceivably continue to pitch on their regular four days of rest deep into next week. Hurdle had held off revealing his plans for the coming weekend until after Monday's game against the Braves, when he could discuss the matter with A.J. Burnett. Hurdle confirmed that Burnett typically prefers staying on a five-day schedule when possible.

"We'll actually have an opportunity maybe to move everybody, because there's a couple guys with even more extended down time," Hurdle said on Monday.

The Pirates placed Gomez on the 15-day disabled list before the start of their series in Atlanta with a strain and inflammation in his right forearm. Gomez exited his start on Sunday against the Reds after allowing four runs in the first inning, leaving the bullpen to pick up the slack over the next 10 innings of the Pirates' 5-4 extra-inning win.

Hurdle played it coy when pressed for his plans beyond next Monday, at which point the Pirates begin a stretch of 13 straight games without an off-day.

"After the off day [on Monday] … I'll just wait," Hurdle said before Tuesday's game. "That'll give you enough for now. It's called a tease in the TV business, isn't it?"

Francisco Liriano will start the first game of the series on Friday afternoon, followed by Burnett on Saturday and Jeff Locke on Sunday.

Eric Single is an associate reporter for
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