Toronto Blue Jays, Pittsburgh Pirates rained out

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BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) - The Toronto Blue Jays‘ spring training game at the Pittsburgh Pirates was rained out Thursday.

The game will not be made up.

STARTING TIME

The Blue Jays returned to their camp in Dunedin without announcing revised pitching plans. Left-hander Mark Buerhle was scheduled to start Thursday on six days’ rest and it is not likely manager John Gibbons will want him to wait past Friday for his next outing.

Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole, slated to start against Toronto, will pitch against Minnesota in a “B” game Friday morning. Cole allowed two runs in two innings against the Blue Jays in his initial outing on Feb. 28.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Pirates left-hander Jeff Locke does not expect to miss much time due to tightness in his right oblique. Locke felt what he said felt like “a continuous little pull” during his last bullpen session and was scratched from his scheduled start Wednesday.

“It’s very minor. We’ll take a few days and re-evaluate,” Locke said. “It’s funny. I was just out there throwing normally. It could be I was coming out of my turn quick. It could be I didn’t stretch enough.”

Locke was an All-Star last year but didn’t pitch due to a back injury. He struggled in the second half - at one point he was sent to Double-A - and finished 10-7 with a 3.52 ERA. He is battling Edinson Volquez for the No. 5 spot in the rotation.

“From what I’ve heard from the training staff, it’s something that if we don’t take care of it now, it could be six to eight weeks later,” Locke said. “That’s something I can’t afford.”

FINDING RHYTHM

Pedro Alvarez has started five of Pittsburgh’s first eight games and is tied with Gregory Polanco for the team lead with 15-bats.

“There’s a reason for it,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We’re trying to bundle at-bats differently for all these guys and give them an opportunity to find some rhythm. The only guys who haven’t played back-to-back games are (Andrew) McCutchen and (Russell) Martin, and that’s by design too.”

In spring traininng last year, Alvarez hit .241 with two homers in 54 at-bats. In 2012, he hit .170 with two homers in 53 at-bats.

“Pedro’s spring trainings have been challenging,” Hurdle said. “Obviously, the season can turn out different, but nobody likes to have to battle for an extended period. If we can give him some help along the way, like by giving him (lots) of at-bats in a short period of time, that’s what we’ll do.”

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