Outlook: Locke looks to repeat first-half magic

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Discussing the right-side tightness that knocked him out of his scheduled Wednesday start, left-hander Jeff Locke said that dreaded word, "oblique."

However, Locke sounded confident that while the discomfort is "in the oblique area," he sought treatment before it became a "six-to-eight week" issue.

Locke said he felt "a little pull on his right side" while throwing a bullpen over the weekend. He finished the session, then sought out the team's training staff.

"I've seen people do oblique stuff before, where they're so bad they can't even take a breath," Locke said. "That's not the case with me. Very minor. Nothing hurts at all. Precautionary more than anything; take a few days then re-evaluate.

"It's funny," he said. "I was just out there throwing normal, everyday stuff. And one thing I've heard is that, in the oblique area, it's usually the throwing side of the pitcher [that gets affected]. It could have been [caused by] coming out of a turn quickly, or not having stretched out enough."

Whatever the cause, Locke hopes for and needs a quick recovery. He knows he has to pitch to earn back the starting job that was taken away from him in mid-September.

"What bugs me the most is not being able to throw [Wednesday]. But I'd rather not be able to throw now than be unable in April or in June," he said. "It is the beginning of March; the last thing I want to do is find a way to set me back further."

Locke will continue to receive treatment on Thursday, and held out the possibility of trying to throw from the mound on Friday.

Gaby, Snider relish opportunity to contribute

Gaby Sanchez is batting .500 after his 1-for-3 effort Wednesday.

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- It was a happy return to their former bases, in different veins, for both Gaby Sanchez and Travis Snider on Wednesday.

Sanchez was not only back at first base after laying low for four days with a right-knee tweak, but he was in the starting lineup against a right-hander, Brandon Morrow -- a big deal only because of what is at stake with Sanchez's ability to handle righties.

Snider, meanwhile, was back at his former Spring Training base from before Toronto dealt him to the Bucs at the 2012 Trade Deadline.

Both enjoyed the experience.

Sanchez drilled an RBI double up the left-center alley off Morrow for a 3-0 lead in the fifth. Snider clubbed Morrow's next pitch over the right-center fence for a 5-0 lead.

"Did it look all right? Then it was all right," Sanchez said, lightly, after coming out of the game.

"As pretty a swing as you'll see from a right-handed hitter," manager Clint Hurdle said of Sanchez's mechanics.

"The more I'm in there, the more comfortable I get. It's just good to be out there playing again," said Snider, who was brought along slowly while recovering from a three-stitch cut on a left finger in a kitchen-knife mishap and played in only his third game.

Snider also got the Bucs' scoring going with an RBI single in the first, and concluded a 3-for-3 day with a fifth-inning single off Jeremy Jeffress, another righty. He is hitting .444 in nine at-bats.

Worth noting

• Rain is virtually a sure thing Thursday, jeopardizing the Pirates' rematch with the Blue Jays at McKechnie Field. Hurdle acknowledged having come up with adjusted workout and pitching plans with his staff, but saw no need to get into it prematurely.

• The Pirates play their first "B" game of the spring on Friday, hosting a Twins squad at 10 a.m. ET at Pirate City.

• Catcher Russell Martin and center fielder Andrew McCutchen have each played in only three of the Bucs' eight spring contests, as planned.

"The time will come for them to play back-to-back games, but not yet. Probably in the second or third week (of March)," Hurdle said.

First number, last word

0: Earned runs allowed by Pittsburgh's starting pitchers in the last five spring games, covering 10 innings, including Jay Jackson's two zeros on Wednesday against Toronto.

"Evaluations take place each and every day, and every day I'm trying to get better. I'm just content to have the opportunity to play healthy." -- Snider, who cranked up his competition for playing time in right field with a 3-for-3, three-RBI day in the Pirates' 6-4 victory Wednesday over Toronto.