Hurdle happy Wandy has found success in Texas

Hurdle happy Wandy has found success in Texas

PHILADELPHIA -- The Pirates played a significant role in things not working out this spring between Wandy Rodriguez and the Braves.

Rodriguez ostensibly had an Atlanta rotation spot locked up until he made a March 26 Grapefruit League start against his former teammates and was rocked for four runs and eight hits in five innings. A week later, the Braves released him.

Three days later, Rodriguez was picked up by Jeff Banister's Rangers, where things have worked out quite a bit better for the veteran lefty.

In his third and fourth starts, in fact, he set a Texas record by retiring 34 straight batters -- the equivalent of 11 1/3 perfect innings.

Clint Hurdle is delighted that his former southpaw and bench coach found each other, while implying the Bucs played a role in the union.

"I couldn't be happier. Wandy was very involved here," Hurdle said. "He tried, and gave it everything he had, and the injuries got in the way."

Acquired from the Astros a few days prior to the 2012 Trading Deadline, Rodriguez went 11-8 in his first season-and-a-half in Pittsburgh. In the middle of the 2013 season, he came down with a tight forearm and just as he appeared recovered from that, inflammation in his right knee again waylaid him.

The Bucs gave him a shot last season, but finally released him on May 30. Three weeks later, Rodriguez underwent surgery on the knee and began his rehab.

"Those are fun opportunities you get as a manager, when there's something going on and you're asked if you know anybody [who could help]," Hurdle said. "And we're always happy when something goes right for Jeff. [Wandy] walked out of here very professionally and he seems to be in a much better place."

Touching all the bases

• First: Speaking of veteran lefties on the comeback trail ... Clayton Richard will make his debut start for Triple-A Indianapolis later this week, bringing him a step closer to Pittsburgh. Richard threw six shutout innings in his only start for Class A Advanced Bradenton.

• Second: Monday's win made Gerrit Cole the second Pirates pitcher ever with five wins and at least 45 strikeouts through seven starts. The first? Francisco Liriano in 2013 when he went 5-2 with 49 K's.

• Third: Jared Hughes' 19 appearances through Monday were tied for the MLB lead -- six of the outings were shorter than a full inning, and he made fewer than 10 pitches in eight of them.

• Home: Chris Stewart has gone 224 at-bats without a homer since going deep on Aug. 20, 2013, off Toronto's Brett Cecil.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.