May 31: Cubs (24-27) @ Pirates (20-31)
The blog is back, as am I after a much-welcomed getaway to Europe over the past two weeks. And as Lastings Milledge informed me in the clubhouse this morning, there will not be any more European adventures in my future since the team didn’t do so well during my absence. We’ll see about that…
Let’s jump right back in, but not before I thank all the men and women serving this country in the military. Thank you for what you do. And a special shout out to all you Pirates fans overseas who stay connected by reading this blog. I know there some of you since I have received notes from you. Thank you.
TODAY’S NEWS AND NOTES:
- Manager John Russell announced that Neil Walker will be the team’s regular second baseman moving forward. Walker has hit safely in four of his first six games since being promoted last Tuesday. And with Aki Iwamura never finding his footing this season, the switch has been made. Iwamura, who is the highest paid player on the club, will be moved into a bench role after having nearly two months to get back on track.
- Walker might also spell Andy LaRoche some time at third base if LaRoche continues to have any back issues. But the goal is to have Walker get comfortable at second, a position that he began playing only in Spring Training.
- With Iwamura out of the lineup, the Pirates will use Andrew McCutchen as their primary leadoff hitter. Russell liked what McCutchen offered out of the No. 3 spot, but they have little other choice than to use him at the top of the lineup. For now, Walker is hitting second. Russell would not commit to him staying there, but said noted that it’s been a good fit thus far.
- While I was gone, lefty Donnie Veal was placed on the Triple-A DL with soreness above the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow. He is scheduled to visit with Dr. James Andrews later this week. A visit to Dr. Andrews often isn’t a good thing, as Kevin Hart was reminded of earlier this month.
- The Pirates reacquired Jonathan Van Every from the Red Sox in exchange for infield Josue Peley. Pittsburgh had dealt Van Every to Boston on April 24. Van Every will join Triple-A Indianapolis on Monday.
- Spoke with Chris Jakubauskas this morning, and he remains encouraged with his progress. He threw 30 pitches (all fastballs) on Saturday and is scheduled to throw 40-45 in his next session on Tuesday. He’ll likely mis in some sinkers and changeups this time.
- Steve Pearce (sprained right ankle) has had his protective boot removed and is walking with hardly a limp. Pearce said the ankle is still sensative in spots, but that it is improving.
- Lefty Jack Taschner will make his second Minor League rehab appearance with Double-A Altoona later tonight. Taschner is eligible to come off the DL later this week.
- Former Pirates reliever John Grabow has been placed on the DL with a left MCL sprain on Monday. That means the Cubs lefty won’t be facing his former team in this series.
- A reminder to women interested: Milledge will host a “Bats Against Breast Cancer” baseball clinic from 7:45 am – 1:35 pm before the team’s game against the Giants on Sunday. For those interested in more details, go here.
- Andrew McCutchen (CF)
- Neil Walker (2B)
- Andy LaRoche (3B)
- Garrett Jones (RF)
- Ryan Church (LF)
- Ryan Doumit (C)
- Jeff Clement (1B)
- Ronny Cedeno (SS)
- Ross Ohlendorf (RHP)
- Kosuke Fukudome (RF)
- Marlon Byrd (CF)
- Derrek Lee (1B)
- Aramis Ramirez (3B)
- Mike Fontenot (2B)
- Alfonso Soriano (LF)
- Geovany Soto (C)
- Starlin Castro (SS)
- Randy Wells (RHP)
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