July 3: Pirates (36-43) @ Marlins (41-39); Sanchez scratched with lower back tightness
Greetings from hot and humid Miami, where after going through the airport this morning I concluded that I am the only person that flew down here today not for vacation.
The Bucs close out the first half with a nine-game road trip that begins with three here, three in Houston and three in Philly. They’re running into a semi-hot Marlins team that is now tied with Philly atop the NL East standings. Take that for what it’s worth, though, since both the Marlins and Phillies are just two games above .500.
As for your pregame news and notes…
- Freddy Sanchez, originally slotted to hit third, has been scratched from the lineup because of tightness in his right lower back. Sanchez said his back tightened up on him while he was getting out of the cab at the ballpark today. He’s listed as day-to-day, with Ramon Vazquez getting the start in his place on Friday.
- This will be the third straight start for Vazquez, whose only had one such stretch all season. He started three consecutive games May 4-6
- Catcher Ryan Doumit made his first appearance in a Gulf Coast League game on Friday. He caught five innings and went 0-for-2 with a walk. Doumit is expected to catch again on Saturday before joining Triple-A Indianapolis on Sunday to continue his rehab.
- As for the GCL Pirates, they were just relieved to be able to play today. Their past five games had all been rained out.
- Lefty Donnie Veal sits less than a week away from having to be reinstated off the disabled list. He made his eighth rehab appearance with Indianapolis on Thursday, pitching 1 2/3 scoreless innings. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out two. It was only the second time that Veal made an appearance without issuing a walk.
- Oh, for those who missed the announcement earlier this season, the Marlins no longer play in Dolphin Stadium (previously Pro Player Stadium). It’s Land Shark Stadium now. That’s all thanks to Jimmy Buffett. Unfortunately, the hot orange and blue seats remained. Sunglasses, please.
- Andrew McCutchen came up short in the National League rookie-of-the-month voting for June. Though he hit .330 through his first 20 games, McCutchen cooled off at the end of June, with just one hit in his final 20 at-bats. McCutchen did receive votes for the award, which was won by Atlanta’s Tommy Hanson (4-0, 2.48 ERA).
- The Pirates are 13-8 against the NL East this season, a record that Russell, when asked about the success, had no explanation for. The Pirates swept the Marlins back at PNC Park April 20-22.
- Steve Pearce is certainly here and in uniform, though there hasn’t been any sighting of him on the field lately, nor is there expected to be. Pearce has really been squeezed of any opportunity to play now that Garrett Jones is up and looking to be a potential everyday option. When asked if there would be consideration of sending Pearce back down to Triple-A where he could get consistent at-bats, manager John Russell said it would be discussed if Pearce continues just to sit. My interpretation: it seems likely.
- This will be the first time since joining the Pirates that Charlie Morton will actually be pitching on his normal four days of rest. After his last start, which was a bit of a struggle, Morton said that the inconsistencies of his schedule hadn’t been a factor.
- Andrew McCutchen (CF)
- Jack Wilson (SS)
- Brandon Moss (RF)
- Adam LaRoche (1B)
- Garrett Jones (LF)
- Andy LaRoche (3B)
- Ramon Vazquez (2B)
- Jason Jaramillo (C)
- Charlie Morton (RHP)
- Chris Coghlan (LF)
- Emilio Bonifacio (3B)
- Hanley Ramirez (SS)
- Jorge Cantu (1B)
- Jeremy Hermida (RF)
- Dan Uggla (2B)
- Cody Ross (CF)
- John Baker (C)
- Chris Volstad (RHP)