Locke steps into Pirates' rotation spot vacated by Bedard

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

The Pittsburgh Pirates, despite being in their first pennant race in 15 years, have decided to add a rookie to their rotation for the stretch run.
Left-hander Jeff Locke will start Monday against Houston in the opener of a three-game series and six-game homestand. He was recalled from Class AAA Indianapolis on Saturday when the major-league roster limit expanded to 40 from 25.
Locke fills the rotation spot vacated by the release of veteran lefty Erik Bedard last Wednesday.
Locke was 10-5 with a 2.48 ERA in 24 starts with Indianapolis. He also made two relief appearances for the Pirates earlier in the season and pitched 4 1/3 innings.
Locke had a chance to join the rotation and struggled mightily. He was 0-3 with a 6.48 ERA in four starts and pitched a total of just 16 1/3 innings.
However, the 24-year-old Locke believes he is much better equipped to handle being a major-league starter. He had made just five starts at the Class AAA level last year before coming to the major leagues.
"It's been a process to reach this point," Locke said. "Some players develop later than others. Maybe I'm a little bit of a late bloomer, but I really feel I made major strides this year."
Manager Clint Hurdle said he sees a difference in Locke from his brief time in the major leagues earlier in the season.
"I think he's one of the guys who walked out of here with a much better feel and understanding of what the major leagues are about through his experiences last year," Hurdle said. "I think a lot of it was overwhelming at times."