June 10: Pirates (26-32) @ Braves (29-28)
First off, apologies that I’m getting this up later than usual. Been having all sorts of problems getting onto my blog. But now that I’ve got that taken care of, let’s go…
RHP Charlie Morton is in Atlanta (he shouldn’t have had any trouble finding the ballpark) and wearing No. 37. All of us media folks kept with the unspoken rule of not talking to the day’s starting pitcher, so I’ll have to wait until postgame to talk with the guy.
The word from the Atlanta people who have talked with him is that Morton has the stuff but can often overthink. And the word from Indy is that Morton was already beginning to feel the weight of being traded for Nate McLouth on his shoulders. All this doesn’t necessarily bode well for Morton, considering he has to make his first start against McLouth and his former team.
Manager John Russell went into a little more detail about the decision to move Jeff Karstens into the bullpen and promote Morton. Apparently the decision was made over the weekend (though no one cared to fill us in), and not after Karstens’ bullpen appearance on Monday.
Russell also emphasized that it wasn’t so much a knock on Karstens as it was just the opportunity to get Morton into a Major League rotation.
“He’s been pitching very well,” Russell said. “He had a stint in the Major Leagues last year and has some struggles. But he went back to Triple-A this year and had some very quality starts. We just felt like it was time to get him up here and let him go. We feel like Charlie is a quality pitcher and would like to get him in the rotation.”
Also, know that Wednesday’s start is not like a tryout of sorts for Morton. He’s here to stay for the time being and will get ample opportunity to show he deserves the fifth spot in the rotation.
Karstens is taking the move to the bullpen in stride, though there was still evident disappointment. He will be the long-relief option that the Pirates really haven’t had all year (well, except when Gorzelanny was here), though Russell said he’ll also use Karstens in one-inning situations as needed.
This isn’t Karstens’ first time in a big-league bullpen either. He made six relief appearances for the Yankees in 2006 and 2007.
Right-hander Tyler Yates has returned to Pittsburgh, where doctors are going to have another look at his right elbow. Yates had to stop throwing on Tuesday after the pain in his elbow returned. There belief is still that Yates doesn’t have any sort of structural damage in his arm, but everyone is waiting to see what the next course of action now is.
Caught up with first base coach Perry Hill earlier, who was still shaking his head about being tossed in Tuesday’s game. In 25 years of professional baseball, Hill had never been ejected from a game.
He was sent to the clubhouse by umpire Doug Eddings in the 8th inning on Tuesday after disagreeing with Eddings, who called Delwyn Young out at first. Replays clearly show that Young was safe.
Needless to say, the ejection caught Hill offguard simply because he didn’t feel he said anything wrong. He didn’t curse. He didn’t say “you” to the umpire. He simply asked to talk with Eddings about the call.
“I was positive,” Hill said. “I didn’t say anything disrespectful. I said I just wanted to talk about the call.”
Eddings told Hill he only talks to managers (Russell was running to first as Hill and Eddings were talking), and Hill was tossed before Russell arrived.
- Outfielder Jose Tabata made his return to Double-A Altoona after missing time with a right hamstring strain. He had two at-bats, but then left the game with a hamstring cramp. The injury is not anything serious.
- The Pirates have acquired outfielder Chris Snelling from the Padres for future considerations. Snelling has been assigned to Triple-A Indianapolis. Snelling has appeared in 93 Major League games in his career, but none this year.
- RHP Jeff Locke, who the Pirates acquired in last week’s trade, made his first appearance for Single-A Lynchburg on Tuesday. He allowed two runs on five hits in four innings. He walked three and struck out two.
- LHP Daniel Moskos, the Pirates’ first-round Draft pick in 2007, pitched well in Altoona’s loss earlier on Wednesday. He lasted seven innings, giving up two runs on six hits.