Results tagged ‘ Alex Presley ’

Game 35: Dodgers (16-19) @ Pirates (17-17)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

.500

I’ll admit that I still have a hard time understanding the joy over this number being that it is May 9. Yes, I understand that a little more than 20 percent of the season is in the books. But I also am very much aware that there is close to 80 percent left. That said, is the hoopla really justified?

I am in my fifth season covering this team, and during my time on the beat I have come to understand why .500 is a benchmark. I get it. However, other than .500 being a step to a bigger, better goal, I have a hard time believing this is the biggest news to come out of the first 34 games. Feel free to disagree (and I know some of you will), but I feel the excitement shouldn’t necessarily be over the record, but over the way this team is playing.

The pitching has been much better than most expected, and that is significant. This franchise won’t have winning baseball without major steps forward on the pitching side, and we’re seeing some of those steps forward already. The offense, on the other hand, has not played up to its expectations or capabilities. The fact that the team is 17-17 without an offense that has clicked from top to bottom at the same times means that this can actually get better. That should be encouraging to those of you who are wondering whether .500 or better baseball can be sustained.

So feel free to get excited about .500 if you want. But more than any record, pay attention to what you’re seeing on the field. Appreciate those improvements.

Some other news and notes…

  • Third baseman Pedro Alvarez is back in the lineup on Monday. He ended up missing four full games because of that right quad tightness.
  • Pirates starters allowed two earned runs in 21 innings in the recently-completed series against the Astros. The rotation has posted a 2.79 ERA in its last seven games.
  • Had a really candid conversation with Chris Resop a little while ago, the contents of which you can find on pirates.com tonight.
  • With his homer on Sunday, Ryan Doumit now stands alone in third place for home runs among Pirates catchers. He has hit 50. Jason Kendall (66) and Tony Pena (63) are the only two still ahead of him.
  • Right-hander Jameson Taillon made his third start — and longest one yet — for low-A West Virginia on Sunday. Taillon, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 Draft, allowed one run on three hits in five innings. He did not walk a batter and struck out five.
  • On the subject of the ’10 Draft, second-rounder Stetson Allie remains in extended Spring Training. GM Neal Huntington said on Sunday that the club has not finalized whether Allie will begin his professional career in short-season State College (season opens in June) or with West Virginia. The organization wanted to keep Allie down in Florida just for development purposes. Unlike Taillon, Allie was not as advanced a pitcher when he was drafted.
  • The Pirates were out working specifically on bunt defenses earlier this afternoon. As was evidenced on Sunday, there is still some need for work in this area. The Pirates have had a few slip-ups with their bunt defenses this season — including two in the past week.
  • Righty Evan Meek threw from 150 feet on Monday. He continues to feel good.
  • Brad Lincoln had a nice performance with Triple-A Indianapolis on Sunday. That’s two solid starts in a row for Lincoln, who could put himself in position to be considered for a call-up if he continues to pitch well. Lincoln picked up a win on Sunday by scattering six hits and two walks and allowing one run. He struck out seven in the six-inning outing.
  • Also down in Triple-A, Alex Presley only continues to hit. He had three more hits on Sunday, scored twice and drove in one.
  • Jose Ascanio is scheduled to make his final rehab appearance with Indianapolis tonight. Ascanio, who has been working his way back from right shoulder surgery, is slated to throw two innings in the outing. The last day Ascanio can pitch is May 10 (rehab assignments can only last 30 days for pitchers), so the Pirates will have to take him off the DL this week. Because Ascanio is out of options, he would have to clear waivers to be assigned to Triple-A. I anticipate that Ascanio will be joining the big league bullpen.

Lineups:

PIRATES: A. McCutchen (CF), J. Tabata (LF), G. Jones (RF), N. Walker (2B), L. Overbay (1B), R. Doumit (C), P. Alvarez (3B), R. Cedeno (SS), J. Karstens (RHP)

DODGERS: J. Carroll (SS), A. Miles (2B), A. Ethier (RF), M. Kemp (CF), J. Uribe (3B), J. Loney (1B), J. Sands (LF), R. Barajas (C), C. Billingsley (RHP)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Game 34: Astros (13-20) @ Pirates (16-17)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Most importantly, Happy Mother’s Day to all the readers who fall in that category. In particular, wishing my mom (who reminds me often that she is a faithful blog reader), my sister (who is probably huddled up studying for finals) and my grandmothers (who, unfortunately, will never read this because neither has learned to operate a computer) a terrific day. Thanks especially to my mom for unwavering support and unconditional love — I’m sure I didn’t always deserve both.

And, since my mom will likely spend the day watching baseball, let’s honor her with some Sunday morning Pirates news…

  • Pedro Alvarez is still not ready to return to the lineup, but he is currently out taking grounders at third. That’s the first I’ve seen him do any defensive work since the right quad tightness crept up on Tuesday. Alvarez was also supposed to do some running this morning.
  • Evan Meek just completed a session of long toss on the outfield grass. He is eligible to come off the DL on May 12, though I’m guessing he won’t be ready by then since he hasn’t yet resumed pitching off a mound.
  • Manager Clint Hurdle talked this morning about Jose Tabata losing his swing lately. And that has really put a dent in his production after such a strong season start. Tabata is is 2-for-25 since April 25. The injury probably didn’t help his timing, but even before that, Tabata’s swing was getting long — as if he was purposefully trying to hit for more power.
  • Pink bats, wristbands and batting gloves were spotted around the clubhouse this morning. Donning pink is an annual Mother’s Day tradition. Garrett Jones, Ronny Cedeno, Chris Snyder, Tabata, Lyle Overbay, Steve Pearce, Matt Diaz and Neil Walker will all be swinging pink bats. Walker and Joel Hanrahan will be wearing pink cleats. Under Armour will have over 170 Minor League and Major League players and coaches sporting the bright shoes.
  • Once again, the Pirates have a shot at returning to .500 with a win this afternoon.
  • Triple-A starter Rudy Owens has been handed a three-game suspension and will have his next start pushed back to Tuesday (from Monday) as a result. Owens was ejected from his last start for hitting a batter after giving up a home run.
  • Outfielder Alex Presley continues to do little wrong in Indianapolis. With three more hits on Saturday, Presley now has a league-leading 40. He has driven in 15, scored 19 and stolen seven bases, too. Working against Presley, though, is the simple fact that the Pirates don’t need an outfielder. The recent addition of Xavier Paul only further hurt Presley’s chances of earning a big league call-up anytime soon.

Lineups:

PIRATES: A. McCutchen (CF), J. Tabata (LF), M. Diaz (RF), N. Walker (2B), S. Pearce (1B), R. Doumit (C), B. Wood (3B), R. Cedeno (SS), J. McDonald (RHP)

ASTROS: M. Bourn (CF), C. Barmes (SS), H. Pence (RF), C. Lee (LF), B. Wallace (1B), C. Johnson (3B), B. Hall (2B), H. Quintero (C), J.A. Happ (LHP)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Game 31: Pirates (14-16) @ Padres (12-18)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

I wasn’t covering the game last night, but I found one post-game comment from manager Clint Hurdle particularly interesting and figured we could revisit it briefly. Asked about Brandon Wood’s attempt to move to third with one out on a ball in the dirt, Hurdle had this to say (by the way, Wood was thrown out): “You’re already in scoring position. If you’re safe, we’re happy, but he pushed the envelope a little bit and the catcher made a nice play. It put a damper on an inning with a chance to tie it.”

Maybe it’s not the smartest decision that could have been made, but I certainly saw more of a benefit of trying to be aggressive in this instance than the one lauded by Hurdle on Easter Sunday — you remember, Andrew McCutchen trying to score on a sacrifice fly with the team down by three. If Wood had been able to make it to third, there would have been a number of ways for him to score the tying run.

As it turns out, neither baserunning decision looked all that sensible because of the outcome. Hurdle will continue to preach aggressive baserunning. Moving forward, though, it will be interesting to see which instances he praises and which he criticizes.

A few news and notes…

  • Outfielder John Bowker has cleared waivers and been assigned to Triple-A Indianapolis. Know that this is not what Bowker wanted. He made it plenty clear the night he was told he was being sent out that he was hoping to be picked up by another club. Turns out he’s now additional outfield depth for the Pirates, who already have Alex Presley, Gorkys Hernandez and Andrew Lambo in Triple-A.
  • Pedro Alvarez is not in Wednesday’s starting lineup. He exited Tuesday’s game with tightness in his right quad and said there was enough tightness still on Wednesday not to want to test it with any exercises.
  • Outfielder Jose Tabata was out running sprints and routes in the outfield this afternoon — certainly a good sign for as he tries to make his way back from hamstring tightness. Tabata will be available “in a limited role” for Wednesday’s game, Hurdle said.
  • For anyone who might have watched Tuesday’s game and is curious, the bunt down the third base line that neither Joe Beimel or Wood went for late in the game was supposed to be Wood’s ball. The infielders had been told on a mound meeting just before the bunt that the play was to go to first. And the coverage was yelled from the dugout right after. “For whatever reason, when the ball was hit, he took a step back and went to the base,” Hurdle said. “He missed his coverage. There was no way to make any excuses for him.”
  • Righty Ross Ohlendorf will throw another session of live batting practice on Friday, and, assuming all goes well, then move onto a Minor League rehab start. The club hasn’t announced how many rehab outings are in order for Ohlendorf, but given his time missed, I’d expect it to be at least two.
  • Today is a homecoming of sorts for Kevin Correia — though he is entirely downplaying his first start back at PETCO Park since leaving the Padres. You can read his thoughts here.
  • This afternoon’s Pirates-Padres game (6:35 pm ET start) is the MLB.TV free game of the day. So if you’re not in the Pittsburgh market and rarely get to see the Pirates live, today is your chance.
  • If you’re interested here is the feature column I wrote on San Francisco hitting coach Bam Bam Meulens for MLB.com. Many of you might remember that Meulens served as a hitting instructor in the Pirates’ Minor League system for a few years. And if that’s not reason enough for you to want to read, maybe this will be: Bam Bam is going to be an astronaut.

Lineups:

PIRATES: A. McCutchen (CF), X. Paul (LF), M. Diaz (RF), N. Walker (2B), S. Pearce (1B), R. Doumit (C), B. Wood (3B), R. Cedeno (SS), K. Correia (RHP)

PADRES: J. Bartlett (SS), W. Venable (RF), R. Ludwick (LF), C. Headley (3B), C. Maybin (CF), B. Hawpe (1B), N. Hundley (C), E. Patterson (2B), C. Richard (LHP)

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Game 28: Pirates (12-15) @ Rockies (17-8)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

One month of the 2011 baseball season is in the books, and I would be curious to hear your assessment of the first 27 games. A few things stand out to me, thus far…

  • I can’t say I necessarily expected the pitching to be carrying the offense. Coming into the year, the Pirates appeared to have a competitive lineup (particularly spots 1-6), but to this point that lineup has produced a .230 batting average and plated just 91 runs (ranking 15th of 16 NL teams). The pitching, on the other hand, is much improved over last year.
  • The degree of success of the Pirates’ bullpen has been a bit surprising, too. Joel Hanrahan has thrived in the closer’s role, though that wasn’t all that unexpected. Evan Meek didn’t have the month most thought he would as the primary set-up man, but the rest of the ‘pen has been terrific. The club finished the month with the lowest bullpen ERA (2.19) in the Majors.
  • Who thought Pedro Alvarez’s defense would be more impressive than his offense to this point? Yes, Alvarez has made some errors. But he’s also made some stellar defensive plays. And there has been much more of the latter than the former. However, at the plate, it has been a struggle since day one. Alvarez has just one homer, and he hit .200 in the month with 31 strikeouts in 90 at-bats. He has driven in seven, though two of those runs scored on an infield hit in the season’s opening weekend.
  • Strikeouts, in general, have really plagued this team. Four players — Alvarez, Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker and Jose Tabata — already have at least 23 apiece. Only the Padres have struck out more than the Pirates.
  • I thought this could be a breakout year for McCutchen, and it still can be. But to this point, the center fielder has produced well below his career numbers. The last two games have been a step in the right direction, but the dynamic outfielder has just not been consistent. And that’s particularly unusual for him.
  • On a positive note, the starts from Charlie Morton and Kevin Correia have been especially encouraging. Correia came into the year intent on proving he was better than he pitched in 2010. For Morton, this is a year of both renaissance and redemption. The Pirates couldn’t have asked much more of either starter in April.

As the team prepares for a fresh month, here are some news and notes before the Pirates’ series finale against the Rockies:

  • Jose Tabata (tightness in right hamstring) is, as expected, not in the lineup. He said that manager Clint Hurdle told him he will also sit out on Monday. That said, Tabata said he is feeling about 95 percent. He was riding a stationary bike for a while this morning and was walking without any apparent issue.
  • Right-hander Ross Ohlendorf is slated to throw live batting practice on Tuesday. He expects to throw another BP session after that and will then head out on a Minor League rehab assignment.
  • So far, the Pirates have been avoiding the lengthy losing streaks that have been an issue in recent years. But they’re also not enjoying any winning streaks either. The Pirates have not won consecutive games since April 17-19 in Cincinnati. They lost the next three games and then have alternated wins and losses ever since.
  • So how did April 2011 compare to April 2010? The Pirates just finished a 12-15 April. Last year’s club went 10-13 in the first month of the season. The club’s longest winning streak in April was two games; that happened twice.
  • If the Pirates can win on Sunday, the club will notch its fourth road series win of the season. That would match last year’s total.
  • The Rockies have held the Pirates to a .197 batting average in six games so far this year.
  • Outfielder Alex Presley was named Triple-A Indianapolis’ Player of the Month for April. Presley finished the month 30-for-90 with 13 runs scored, five stolen bases and eight extra-base hits. He reached base safely in 20 of the 24 games he played.
  • Xavier Paul is making his third start of the season, though it’s his first since joining the Pirates.

Lineups:

PIRATES: A. McCutchen (CF), X. Paul (LF), G. Jones (RF), N. Walker (2B), L. Overbay (1B), R. Doumit (C), P. Alvarez (3B), R. Cedeno (SS), C. Morton (RHP)

ROCKIES: D. Fowler (CF), A. Amezaga (2B), T. Helton (1B), T. Tulowitzki (SS), C. Gonzalez (LF), S. Smith (RF), J. Lopez (3B), C. Iannetta (C), U. Jimenez (RHP)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Pirates cut 10 from camp

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The Pirates trimmed down the number of players in Major League camp from 54 to 44 this morning. Here are the cuts:

  • Andrew Lambo reassigned to Minor League camp
  • Brian Friday reassigned to Minor League camp
  • Chase d’Arnaud reassigned to Minor League camp
  • Aaron Thompson optioned to Double-A Altoona
  • Ramon Aguero optioned to Double-A Altoona
  • Jeff Locke optioned to Double-A Altoona
  • Tony Watson optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis
  • Gorkys Hernandez optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis
  • Alex Presley optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis
  • Daniel Moskos optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis

Now for some specific notes on these players and their assignments:

  • Plan on Lambo being used as a corner outfielder in Indianapolis. It sounds like first base is going to be a fallback option for him. He really made an impression defensively this spring. Heck of an arm.
  • Friday should spend most of his time at second, with d’Arnaud getting the majority of the starts at short. The Pirates value versatility, though, so expect the two to flip flop places from time to time to stay sharp at multiple positions. d’Arnaud, general manager Neal Huntington said, might also play a little at third.
  • Both Presley and Hernandez have played extensively in center field, though now both are headed to Indianapolis. Huntington said Hernandez is likely to be the team’s primary centerfielder, while Presley will bounce around.
  • Though Thompson and Locke were both optioned to Double-A, either one could actually start the year in Triple-A. It all depends on how the pitching shakes out by the end of camp.
  • The organization has not determined whether Watson will be starting or relieving this season.
  • Watson and Moskos were named as two lefty candidates for the Pirates’ bullpen, though the Pirates ultimately determined both could use more seasoning in the Minors before making the jump to Pittsburgh.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Day 4: Daily Squeeze

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

PJ Forbes and Josh Fields.jpgA nightmarish case of identity theft has slowed me down in getting on the blog today, and for that I apologize. But now that I’m here, let’s jump right in…

  • LHP Scott Olsen hobbled off the field this morning. Fortunately, the early exit from workouts had nothing to do with Olsen’s left shoulder (which has given him problems for the last two years). He felt some tightness in his hamstring during fielding practice, and that ended his day. Olsen will be reevaluated on Friday, though he insisted that this setback is nothing that should keep him off the field for more than a day or two.
  • Camp is almost full, and all players are required to report to Bradenton by the end of the day on Friday. On Thursday, Alex Presley and John Bowker arrived for their first day of workouts.
  • Talked with farm director Kyle Stark today about a number of Minor League players (you’ll see that information trickling out in the coming days), but he was encouraged to report that none of the Minor Leaguers are going to be limited coming into camp. No offseason surgeries or injuries to report.
  • Speaking of Minor League camp, the early group will begin on February 28. The Pirates invited about 30 pitchers and 30 position players to report early. Minor League camp starts in full on March 7.
  • I don’t expect manager Clint Hurdle to be revealing his lineup to us any time soon. He said on Thursday that he’s had many discussions about potential batting orders, but nothing is in pen. Pressed further about Andrew McCutchen’s placement in the lineup, Hurdle suggested that the center fielder could hit third or in the leadoff spot.
  • While Sean Gallagher is a candidate to make the Pirates’ bullpen, the club is not ruling out using him as a starter. If Gallagher starts, it would almost certainly be in Triple-A to begin the year.
  • Slug bunts were a major point of emphasis in workouts today. All the pitchers were working on them, and Hurdle has every intention of pulling out the surprise play during the season.
  • Go here to read more about what baserunning coach Luis Silverio is doing with McCutchen to make him a more effective and efficient baserunner. The Pirates want McCutchen to run, and Silverio thinks he’s identified a few things that can be cleaned up to make McCutchen’s first step quicker.
  • A group of 16 pitchers had their second side session on Thursday. That group included: Charlie Morton, Brian Burres, Fernando Nieve, Chris Resop, Gallagher, Tony Watson, Cesar Valdez, Tyler Yates, Jeff Karstens, Justin Thomas, Brad Lincoln, Chris Leroux, Daniel McCutchen, Ramon Aguero, Daniel Moskos and Bryan Morris.
  • Congratulations go out to Steve Pearce, who was married over the offseason. He joins Pedro Alvarez as one of the newlyweds in the clubhouse.
  • Pirates Charities is hosting the annual Spring Training golf tournament next week. If you are interested in joining former and current players and playing in the event, contact Stacy Morgan (stacy.morgan@pirates.com; 941-747-3031).
  • I hope you catch the irony in the photo above, which was snapped by team photographer Dave Arrigo.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

September 7: Braves (79-59) @ Pirates (46-91)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

With the Braves sitting only 1/2 game ahead of the Phillies in the NL East standings, the Pirates will have the chance to affect that race one way or another these next two nights. Pittsburgh finished 4-2 against the Phillies this season. Currently, the Braves hold a 5-2 advantage in their season series against Pittsburgh.

The Pirates’ clubhouse got much more crowded today, as eight players from Triple-A Indianapolis’ club have arrived. That group includes Pedro Ciriaco, Jason Jaramillo, Brandon Moss, Alex Presley, Brian Bass, Steven Jackson, Brad Lincoln and Justin Thomas. Much much more on roles and expected playing time on the main site later today.


Thumbnail image for Braves.jpgBRAVES:
O. Infante (2B), J. Heyward (RF), M. Prado (3B), B. McCann (C), D. Lee (1B), M. Cabrera (LF), A. Gonzalez (SS), R. Ankiel (CF), T. Hudson (RHP)

Hudson vs. PIT: 5-3 in 9 starts, 62.1 IP, 48 H, 17 ER, 4 HR, 18 BB, 41 K


pirates.jpgPIRATES:
A. McCutchen (CF), J. Tabata (LF), N. Walker (2B), G. Jones (1B), P. Alvarez (3B), R. Doumit (RF), R. Cedeno (SS), C. Snyder (C), J. McDonald (RHP)

McDonald vs. ATL: 0-0 in 2 games, 4 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 BB, 5 K

 

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Moskos, Presley promoted

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The Pirates have promoted prospects Daniel Moskos and Alex Presley to Triple-A Indianapolis on Thursday. The pair had both been standout performers with Double-A Altoona all season.

Moskos, the Pirates’ first-round pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, was moved into a closer’s role this year and has thrived. In 28 appearances, Moskos notched 17 saves for a Curve team that has Minor League Baseball’s best record. He has allowed just five earned runs and nine walks in 31 innings. Moskos had 30 strikeouts.

“He’s gotten his aggressiveness back,” general manager Neal Huntington said recently. “His season of innings last year built the arm strength back up because we weren’t seeing the arm strength even as a reliever in [2008].

“We challenged him to develop a sinker, which now he has another weapon just besides pure gas. The changeup has developed and been great. He’s taken off.”

The Pirates have also seen a spike in Moskos’ velocity. Whereas his fastball sat around 89-91 mph last season, it’s now regularly at 92-93 mph. The fastball has reached as high as 96 mph at times.

After spending two seasons at the high-A level, Presely began the year with Altoona and was leading the Eastern League with a .350 batting average and seven through 67 games. An eighth-round pick in 2006, Presley also had 13 doubles, six homers and 47 RBIs at the time of the promotion.

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Lynchburg takes first game of Championship series

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The Lynchburg Hillcats (high Single-A) opened up the Mills Cup Championship with a 9-2 win over the Salem Red Sox at home on Monday night.

Justin Wilson, the Pirates’ fifth-round Draft pick in 2008, picked up the win for the club. Wilson allowed one earned run on five hits and struck out three in 5 2/3 innings. Chris Cullen, Harrison Bishop and Ramon Aguero each made scoreless relief appearances.

Offensively, second baseman Chase D’Arnaud led the way with three RBIs and a 2-for-5 night. First baseman Matt Hague went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and three runs scored. Outfielder Alex Presley also scored twice while finishing 2-for-4. Outfielder Jose De Los Santos went 3-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored.

A box score and recap of the game can be found here on the Hillcats’ website.

Lynchburg and Salem will play Game 2 of the best-of-five series in Lynchburg on Tuesday night.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

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