The Pirates have released Jose Contreras, placed A.J. Burnett on the 15-day disabled list and activated Charlie Morton, all moves on right-handed pitchers to allow Morton to start Thursday night.
Burnett has a right calf strain that he told the team about Wednesday and is on the DL retroactive to June 9. Contreras has been on the disabled list since May 28 with lower back inflammation. His release opens up a 40-man roster spot for Morton, while Burnett’s injury opens a spot for Morton to join the 25-man roster.
Earlier Thursday, the team announced A.J. Burnett would miss his Friday start with a calf injury. Jeff Locke will start Friday night’s game at home against the Dodgers, and Gerrit Cole is scheduled to start Sunday. Saturday’s starter has yet to be announced, but Tim Williams explored the possibilities.
The Pirates now have five of their main starting pitchers from the 2012 season on the disabled list: Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, James McDonald and Jeff Karstens. The team provided updates on some of those pitchers plus others earlier today. Rodriguez is eligible to return from the disabled list as early as June 21 (when the Pirates are in Anaheim), and Burnett could return as early as June 25 in Seattle. The Pirates’ rotation currently stands as Morton, Locke, Cole and Liriano.
Burnett was seen walking without crutches and without any visible protective gear Thursday.
Contreras, 41, pitched only five innings for the Pirates this season, allowing five earned runs, striking out five and giving up six walks. The Pirates were just his second organization since 2009. He was granted an unconditional release.