View Full Version : All-Star Locke quietly opening doors to success

07-11-2013, 04:09 PM
To Jeff Locke's left in the Pirates' clubhouse sits A.J. Burnett, the grizzled veteran standing at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, with some intimidating ink covering his arms. To his right, there's Gerrit Cole, the team's top prospect, whose fastball can graze 100 mph. He's of similar stature to Burnett.

In between those two lockers stands Locke, a 6-foot, 185-pound lefty who would likely still get carded trying to buy beer. He may not look like a prototypical pitcher -- say, a Burnett or Cole --- but Locke has been one of Pittsburgh's most reliable arms in 2013, bringing a humble and quiet confidence to the mound in his first full big league season.

Locke, one of baseball's most unlikely All-Stars, broke camp as the club's fifth starter. But he's become much more than just an end-of-the rotation guy, someone who would have been easily replaced when Francisco Liriano and Charlie Morton got healthy, or Cole was ready for The Show.

The Pirates' rotation, however, has taken some hits throughout the year with injuries to Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez and James McDonald. The man who's been around through all that? Locke, with his 8-2 record, 2.15 ERA and, at one point, a 16-start unbeaten streak.

"This isn't something that was expected by probably anybody else except me and my teammates," said Locke, a North Conway, N.H., native and one of four active MLB players from the state. "I set my goals high. I just want to be consistent and be reliable. Just someone the team can look forward to having on the mound every fifth day."

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