August 7: Cardinals (59-51) @ Pirates (45-63)
Before we get going on baseball-related news, I’d like to revisit some items from after last night’s long game. It was reported – and accurately so, based on the information members of the media were provided after Thursday’s game — on pirates.com and by others who cover the team regularly that two Pirates players did not speak to the media Thursday night.
Kevin Hart, who made the start in his Pirates debut, left the clubhouse before we were allowed in. And we were told by a Pirates spokesperson that reliever Steven Jackson, who took the loss in the game and was sent down to Triple-A minutes after, would not speak either. That is why you did not see quotes from either of the two pitchers.
On Friday, we (the media that cover the team daily) were given some clarification on the circumstances behind last night’s events.
Hart was waiting for us when we entered the clubhouse this afternoon to apologize for not being around after the game. Because the Pirates made multiple roster moves after the game, the media was held out longer than normal and Hart, not knowing why the media wasn’t being allowed in, waited for about 15 minutes and then left thinking no one wanted to talk with him. He had not been told to wait around to speak, nor was he informed why the media was not in the clubhouse as expected.
He sincerely apologized to the media, fans and his teammates for how things happened last night and wanted everyone to know his intention was not to be disrespectful. I can tell you that in my other dealings with Hart so far, he has been nothing but extremely accomodating, respectful and pleasant to deal with. That said, chalk Thursday’s incident to pure miscommunication.
As for Jackson, Pirates media relations director Jim Trdinich took responsibility for telling Jackson that he did not have to speak with reporters after the game, hence Jackson’s decision not to. We were unaware on Thursday that Jackson had been given the option.
Wanted to get all of that out there, since I know there were some harsh words directed at both players afterward for what, at the time, appeared to be deliberate avoidance of the media.
Now on to baseball… with today’s news, notes and randomness…
- Right-handed relievers Chris Bootcheck and Jose Ascanio have arrived and will be two fresh arms for the Pirates’ bullpen. Bootcheck was called up when Donnie Veal went on the DL with a sprained left index finger. Ascanio takes the roster spot that belonged to Jackson. Bootcheck and Ascanio will both be used in middle relief.
- Manager John Russell said that though Ascanio will be used as a reliever, that does not rule out returning him to a starting role later in the year. That could be by sending him down to Triple-A Indianapolis later this month, or by giving him spot starts with the Pirates in September. Basically, the Pirates were in dire need of a fresh arm and Ascanio gives them someone who can throw multiple innings.
- The decision to put Veal back on the DL seems to be another “aggressive” one by the organization, which continues to be hesitant to use Veal in situations where the game is close. According to Russell, Veal was throwing earlier this week and said that that his finger did not feel right. He has been diagnosed with a sprained left index finger. If the Pirates want, they have the ability to keep Veal on the DL for the rest of the month and reinstate him in September when they can freely call up bullpen reinforcement.
- Heading into Friday’s contest against the Cardinals, the Pirates have been outscored 24-4 in the seventh inning and later on this homestand. That helps to explain why the club has lost five straight.
- As reported by MLB.com Jonathan Mayo, the Pirates’ eighth-round Draft pick, Colton Cain, is close to signing with the Pirates for a seven-figure bonus. That announcement could be made official as early as later this afternoon.
- Brian Bixler, who is being converted to a utility player at Triple-A Indianapolis, was named the Triple-A Player of the Month for July. Bixler hit .343 with 17 runs scored, six doubles, three triples and six home runs. He drove in 20 and stole six bases.
- Right-hander Jean Machi was promoted from Double-A Altoona to Triple-A to take Bootcheck’s spot in the Indianapolis bullpen.
- Third base coach Tony Beasley is expected to rejoin the team on Sunday. He has been gone for about two and a half weeks due to the death of his father and aunt.
- Lost in last night’s loss was Matt Capps brilliant relief work. While the rest of the ‘pen struggled, Capps pitched two scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out four. That marked Capps’ first two-inning appearance since Sept. 13, 2008. He is 4-0 with a 0.26 ERA in games where he has pitched two or more innings. Try to explain that one…
- The Pirates have been one-hit twice this year, with one of those coming against St. Louis’ Chris Carpenter, who makes the start for the Cardinals tonight. In 12 career games against the Pirates, Carpenter is 10-1 with a 2.06 ERA.
- With 45 wins in the team’s first 108 games, the Pirates are on pace for a 68-win season. This club has won 67 or 68 games in each of the last four seasons.
- Andrew McCutchen (CF)
- Lastings Milledge (LF)
- Garrett Jones (RF)
- Ryan Doumit (1B)
- Delwyn Young (2B)
- Steve Pearce (1B)
- Andy LaRoche (3B)
- Ronny Cedeno (SS)
- Paul Maholm (LHP)
- Julio Lugo (
- Rick Ankiel (CF)
- Albert Pujols (1B)
- Matt Holliday (LF)
- Ryan Ludwick (RF)
- Mark DeRosa (3B)
- Yadier Molina (C)
Skip Schumaker (2B) Brendan Ryan (SS)
- Chris Carpenter (RHP)
Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB