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Pirates' Locke to miss next start, All-Star game

Sunday - 7/14/2013, 1:32am  ET

File- This Sept. 23, 2011 file photo shows Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Jeff Locke throwing against the Cincinnati Reds in the first inning of the baseball game in Pittsburgh. Locke is trying to pitch Pittsburgh toward its first playoff spot in two decades. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

WILL GRAVES
AP Sports Writer

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Jeff Locke's back forced the issue of whether the lefthander would pitch in next week's All-Star game.

The Pittsburgh Pirates starter will miss Sunday's game against the New York Mets and sit out the midsummer classic due after his back tightened up during a 2-1 loss to Oakland on Tuesday.

"It hasn't happened before, that's why I'm speechless," Locke said. "I've never had anything pop up like this."

Gerrit Cole will start in Locke's place against the Mets and National League manager Bruce Bochy will have to find a replacement for Locke on the 34-man All-Star roster.

The 25-year-old Locke has been one of the biggest surprises for one of baseball's most surprising teams. The lefthander emerged from a heated battle during spring training to make the team as the fifth starter and has flourished. He is 8-2 in 18 starts and his 2.15 ERA ranks second in the majors behind Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.

Locke said he felt some discomfort toward the end of his seven innings of work against the Athletics. The symptoms lingered into Wednesday and flared up again during a weightlifting session.

"I felt like I opened up the wound again," he said.

He went through his normal bullpen routine on Friday and against Saturday but he and the Pirates decided it was best not to force the issue with Cole available. The former No. 1 pick is 4-2 with a 3.68 ERA and will start on five days' rest.

Locke, a New Hampshire native, will travel to New York for the All-Star festivities but will not be available to play. Barring a setback, Locke will make his next start on Sunday, July 21 against the Cincinnati Reds.

"The only thing I'm disappointed about is not being able to go (Sunday)," Locke said. "It's not one of those things where I can't go (Sunday) but I can go in the All-Star game. I think it'd be disrespectful to the team. I don't think it's even questionable ... I'll just go there and enjoy it and come back after the break."


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