James McDonald on expectations, Pirates' staff

PITTSBURGH -- Right-hander James McDonald continued to search for answers after allowing eight runs (three earned) against the Cardinals in 1 2/3 forgettable innings Monday night.

"My first three starts I felt cool," McDonald said. "I felt bad, and I went through it. And as the season got going everything got going; I got adjusted to night games, and every five days, and then things started to turn around. But right now, it's just one of those times the body doesn't feel too well, and I just got to battle through it."

McDonald's velocity is down from last year; his breaking stuff is not sharp at all.

"I've got to get adjusted to every five days and the workload I'm putting on myself," McDonald stated. "I think I maybe need to turn it up more than back off. I think your brain will adjust to whatever you do. If I back off, my brain's going to adjust to backing off; I turn it up more, my body is going to adjust to more workload, so I think maybe I need to turn it up a little bit rather than dial back."

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said he expected McDonald to make his next start Saturday against Atlanta.

"I talked to him last night," Hurdle said. "Is he 100 percent on top of his game? No. Is he feeling anything that he doesn't think is manageable or there is nothing he can put his finger on? He's got none of that. It's perplexing to some degree, and we'll have the trainers continue to monitor some stuff and our strength and conditioning guys also. We'll try to evaluate this day by day."

Bucs option Morris, bring up righty Mazzaro

KC@STL: Mazzaro throws six scoreless frames

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates on Tuesday optioned right-hander Bryan Morris to Triple-A Indianapolis and selected the contract of fellow righty Vin Mazzaro from Indianapolis to take his place.

The move comes one day after Morris tossed three hitless innings of relief in Monday's 10-6 loss to the Cardinals. It was Morris' lone appearance with the Pirates, as he will now return to Indianapolis where he has also not allowed a hit in three innings of work in two relief appearances this season.

As for Mazzaro, his addition provides the Pirates much-needed length out of the bullpen Tuesday night after Monday's starter, James McDonald, lasted just 1 2/3 innings before placing the remaining 7 1/3 innings on the 'pen.

Mazzaro, acquired from the Royals in an offseason trade, went 1-0 and allowed just three hits over seven shutout innings in three relief appearances this season with Indianapolis. The 26-year-old split last season between Triple-A Oklahoma City and Kansas City, bouncing back and forth from the bullpen to the rotation.

"I felt I was throwing the ball pretty well," Mazzaro said. "It's probably one of the best springs I've had, and it's the first time throwing out of the bullpen, too, so I felt good, and the recovery was good and all that."

In 18 appearances (six starts) with the Royals in 2012, Mazzaro went 4-3 with a 5.73 ERA. For his career, the right-hander is 15-21 with a 5.22 ERA in 66 big league appearances (45 starts).

Mazzaro says he is ready for whatever the Pirates need him to do.

"I was going from one, to two, to three or four innings," Mazzaro said. "It was kind of back and forth, whatever they really needed. I don't know what they need here -- long man, starter, one- or two-inning guy, it doesn't really matter right now. I'll just go out there and give them hell and try and help the team out."

Worth noting

• Entering Tuesday's action, Starling Marte was leading the National League with 20 hits and shared the league lead with eight multi-hit games.

• Neil Walker hit his first home run of the season Monday night and was hitting .391 (9-for-23) entering Tuesday as part of a five-game hitting streak.