Results tagged ‘ A.J. Johnson ’
Charlie Morton had another strong outing on Wednesday, and he continues to give the Pirates every reason to consider him for that final spot in the rotation. Actually, I think it’s fair to call him th favorite at this point — both because of what he has done and what Scott Olsen has not been able to do.
Morton did serve up a homer to Andruw Jones on a sinker, but the right-hander was otherwise efficient and effective. In his three innings of work, Morton gave up only one other hit — that a harmless single.
Keep in mind that by coming in mid-game, Morton didn’t face all the same heavy hitters that Kevin Correia did early. But as manager Clint Hurdle noted afterward, it’s Morton’s demeanor that is especially encouraging so far. He looks confident, and he looks like he’s enjoying baseball again. Don’t discount the importance of the latter.
“Very aggressive with all of his pitches,” Hurdle said. “I think the comfort is picking up. You’re watching him get on the mound, get set over the mound, get a sign and deliver. There’s not a lot of fidgeting. He’s very confident out there. He’s been very, very aggressive.”
Morton has now made three starts and has been efficient enough to pitch his scheduled number of innings in each. The sinker continues to be a good go-to pitch for Morton — of the nine outs he recorded on Wednesday, six were on groundballs.
“For the most part I felt pretty aggressive,” Morton said. “I fell behind in some counts, but I managed to stay in those counts and not allow a bunch of baserunners. That’s good. There are some things that I’m working on, but I feel fine. I’m just glad to get out there and compete instead of hanging out in Bradenton like I was all winter.”
Kevin Correia pointed out something interesting during his postgame session with the media — something that I think warrants mentioning because it gets forgotten by those who read so much into results. He talked about his preparation for a game like this, and how that preparation doesn’t involve studying video or flipping through scouting reports.
Unlike regular season starts, pitchers don’t typically go through their same intense pregame preparation before Spring Training games. Pitchers make starts with certain goals in mind — wanting to work on a certain pitch, etc. — and not as concerned with pitching to so-and-so’s weakness. It’s not an excuse (and Correia wasn’t using it as one), but is just something to keep in mind any time you see a shaky line from one of the pitchers.
Curious, I asked Correia if he’d start relying on scouting reports more heavily as it gets closer to Opening Day, just to simulate a normal routine. Correia’s answer:
“If it’s a team that we’re going to play during the year, I’ll definitely talk to some guys,” he said. “Yeah, you definitely will start doing that because it’s a little more of a real start. Now you can start pitching to guys’ weaknesses instead of just working on something.”
Since it doesn’t make the box score, here are some defensive observations from the night:
- Pedro Alvarez made two terrific plays at third base. He showed good range and made a really nice back-handed pick.
- Andrew Lambo gunned down Eduardo Nunez as he tried to go second-to-third on a flyball that wasn’t by any means shallow. Lambo made a great throwing right to third to get Nunez and help Jose Veras wiggle out of trouble in the eighth.
- It wasn’t as stellar a defensive night for Corey Wimberly, who got handcuffed on two groundballs at short. Neither were routine plays, but Wimberly hasn’t helped himself in proving to management that he can be a backup shortstop.
On the main site tonight, you’ll find the story of A.J. Johnson, which, as noted in the blog earlier, is a story that I hope will give everyone some perspective on, well, life. In the notes you’ll find more on Correia’s start, Hurdle’s thoughts about the Pirates’ 16 (yes, 16) strikeouts at the plate and what the Minor Leaguers are saying about the rising talent in the organization.
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The Pirates have their first of three spring night games tonight and it comes against the Yankees up here in Tampa. The contrast between the Yankees’ Spring Training park — George M. Steinbrenner Field, to be precise — and every other one strikes me every year. It’s as grandiose as a Florida Spring Training facility gets, though I’m not sure that’s something to brag about.
One of the neatest aspects of Spring Training, in my opinion, is the intimacy of the ballparks. Fans who come to Pirate City or McKechnie Field stand just feet away from Pirates players. The access is tremendous. Here, not so much. The ballpark is nice, yes, but also a bit stuffy. But I guess old charm isn’t what a team like New York is going for.
On an entirely different note… I know that when you get online each day you are have a limited amount of minutes to spend reading the news. I understand that you don’t have time to read everything — I’m in the same boat — but I do want to turn your attention to a story I wrote today about A.J. Johnson.
My hope is that you’ll read it, not because I wrote it, but rather to get some perspective. Instead of reading about Scott Olsen’s hamstring or Joe Beimel’s elbow for one day, I hope you enjoy a story about a young man whose story will make you think twice about how much a baseball game really matters. And I just hope I was able to give A.J.’s story the justice it is due.
You can find the story here.
As for the rest of your news…
- I was not at Tuesday’s game against the Twins, but I hear that Steve Pearce looked just fine at third base. Now that Pearce has gotten some game time in during a “B” game, you’d have to expect that he will play some third in a regular Grapefruit League game sometime soon.
- Speaking of corner utility players, I would have to believe that the Pirates are going to have to start whittling down their list soon. With Pearce, Andy Marte, Josh Fields and Garrett Atkins all essentially fighting for one bench spot, there is not going to be enough playing time to go around. Especially not when you consider that Lyle Overbay and Pedro Alvarez need to get their work in, too. Don’t be surprised if one of the four bench candidates gets sent out of camp soon.
- Back at McKechnie Field, Gillette and ESPN are filming some national TV commercial today/tonight. Among those appearing in the commercial are ESPN personality Kenny Mayne and Rays third baseman Evan Longoria.
- Scott Olsen and Joe Beimel both threw at Pirate City on Tuesday and everything went without incident. The club has not announced what the next step is for either. Olsen, at least, should be ready to start pitching in games soon. That is especially necessary if the Pirates still want time to build him up as a starter.
- The following pitchers will throw for the Pirates in Thursday’s night game against the Orioles: Paul Maholm (four innings), Joel Hanrahan, Evan Meek, Chris Resop, Jeff Karstens, Tony Watson.
- That game on Thursday is also a night game (7:05 p.m. ET scheduled first pitch) and will be televised back in Pittsburgh on FSN.
- Tonight’s game can be heard on 104.7 FM for those of you back in the ‘Burgh.
- Remember Brendan Donnelly, the veteran reliever who spent a few months with Pittsburgh last year? He has told MLB.com that he has officially retired.
PIRATES: A. McCutchen (CF), C. d’Arnaud (2B), P. Alvarez (3B), M. Diaz (LF), G. Jones (RF), S. Pearce (1B), C. Snyder (C), P. Ciriaco (SS), K. Correia (RHP)
Pitchers: K. Correia (four innings), C. Morton (three), D. McCutchen, J. Veras
YANKEES: D. Jeter (SS), R. Martin (C), M. Teixeira (1B), A. Rodriguez (DH), R. Cano (2B), A. Jones (LF), E. Chavez (3B), J. Maxwell (RF), M. Mesa (CF)
Pitchers: B. Colon, M. Banuelos, R. Soriano, P. Feliciano, D. Turpen, L. Ayala
Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB