"There is the possibility that the guy will show up and what we'll think about is, do we start him again on Friday against the Yankees, and let him see them again for a second time," Tracy said. "He got his work in today, we may send him elsewhere. That's not etched in stone, but it's something that I'll definitely think about."
Things to consider when making the decision are where the other starters are, durability-wise, at the end of the week, and which pitchers are available and/or needing work in the bullpen at that point. It may very well be Duke on the mound in a rematch, but Tracy reminded that there was more at stake than a second Grapefruit League game against the Yankees.
Duke, however, remained focused on the rematch.
"Just to prove it was more me getting out of rhythm as opposed to them being able to hit me that well," he said. "I take this personally. How can you not? I gave up seven runs in an inning, how can you not take it personally?"
Duke was looking good out of the gate Sunday. Great, even. He was cruising along through his first three innings, and retired the first two batters he faced in the fourth to keep the Yankees' "A" team off of the board. The young lefty induced six groundouts and scattered three hits over 3 2/3 innings, and looked poised to finish strong.
And suddenly, it fell apart.
First, two singles and a fielder's choice broke the stalemate. Back-to-back walks to Johnny Damon and Derek Jeter forced in another run. A grand slam by Jason Giambi made it 6-0. Alex Rodriguez tripled in the next at-bat and scored on a grounder, and Duke was done.
It was an inning that saw Duke's ERA shoot from 4.15 to 7.02.
"I never want to get beat," he said. "I'm not embarrassed, I'm just mad at myself."
Tracy complimented Duke's reaction as a sign of maturity.
"He got his work in and he got his pitches in," Tracy said of his Opening Day starter. "And there's no doubt in my mind that when we get to April 2, this guy's going to be raring and ready to go."
Switching pitching? Shane Youman tossed 1 1/3 innings of one-hit relief Sunday to extend his scoreless streak to 6 1/3 innings (three outings).
Youman, a starter, had previously been on a five-day rotation, raising the question as to whether the Pirates may be having the southpaw audition for a relief role.
Tracy said although he was impressed with the speed at which the 27-year-old prepared himself in the bullpen, his reasoning for the abbreviated outing was simply because there were other pitchers who needed work as well.
"We're just looking at options now," pitching coach Jim Colborn said. "It's my job to put all of our options out there, and that would be an option, for [Youman] to be a relief pitcher. I'm not sure if he would do it, or if it's a good option or not, but we saw it a little bit today."
Youman said he was told to be ready to pitch again soon, as early as Tuesday.
Grabow hurt: Left-handed reliever John Grabow hasn't pitched since March 11 against Cincinnati, and doesn't know when he'll be able to return because of a sore elbow.
Grabow, 28, has not been on the disabled list in his three Major League seasons and was understandably frustrated after getting a cortisone shot this week.
"[My elbow] started hurting toward the end of last season, but I was able to
keep pitching," Grabow told the Associated Press. "It calmed down during the offseason, but now it's hurting again. I've always prided myself on taking the ball any time the manager has asked. I want my team to know they can count on me."
Grabow appeared in a career-high 72 games for the Pirates last season, and worked to a 4-2 record and 4.13 ERA. Without him, the bullpen is down to one lefty, Damaso Marte. Grabow planned on throwing a bullpen session Monday, and was optimistic the soreness was just swelling and nothing more serious.
Lineup shuffle: Jose Hernandez was a late scratch from Sunday's lineup due to flu-like symptoms. Brian Bixler started at second base in Hernandez's place, hit ninth and went 1-for-3
He said it: "They sent a little message as to how quickly they can pounce on you." -- Tracy, on the Yankees' seven-run fourth inning
Up next: Pittsburgh travels to Clearwater on Monday for a 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Phillies. Right-hander Ian Snell will make his fifth outing (third start) for the Pirates, and will face Philadelphia righty Adam Eaton.