BRADENTON, Fla. — After the Pirates 8-6 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at McKechnie Field, Manager Clint Hurdle announced that left-hander Erik Bedard will be the Opening Day starter on April 5 at PNC Park against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Hurdle also said that Jeff Karstens will start game two, James McDonald game three, and Kevin Correia will get the first start on the road against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The decision on the opening day starter was shuffled after right-hander A.J. Burnett had to undergo right eye surgery to repair the fractured orbital bone in his right eye.
“We were planning on giving the ball to A.J. to start the season,” Hurdle said.
“We tried to look at the first two weeks and add on the next month. We had conversation earlier about Jeff and Erik, and how we’d match up better. Throughout the month, the statistical analysis, some history, and other things, we felt our strongest rotation coming out of the chute would fall this way,” Hurdle said.
Bedard, 33, will make his third career Opening Day start. He also got Opening Day nod’s in 2008 with the Seattle Mariners, and the Baltimore Orioles in 2007. The lefty signed a one-year deal with the Pirates on December 7 of 2011 after posting a 3.62 ERA combined with the Boston Red Sox and Mariners last season.
“He’s done this before,” Hurdle said. “It wont be his first opening day start. That puts Jeff in a good position. I think the counter balance of the three guys, the three different looks right out of the chute. No similar type pitchers.”
Correia, 31, posted a 10-3 record with a 2.64 ERA on the road last season with the Pirates. That was compared to a 7.71 ERA at PNC Park over 12 starts.
“Then Correia, try to build on some of the momentum that he established last year on the road,” Hurdle said.
With two off days to start the Pirates season, which fall on April 6 and 9, the club won’t technically need a fifth starter until April 15th.
Right-hander Charlie Morton, who had offseason surgery on his left hip, is continuing to move forward. He is scheduled to make his third Grapefruit League start of the spring on Friday at McKechnie Field. Morton pitched three innings during his last start on Sunday.
“We’re going to get Charlie out there again and see how he shows up,” Hurdle said. “Just to evaluate him a little bit more, where he is. That will be coming here shortly.”