Results tagged ‘ Andy Marte ’

Game 36: Dodgers (16-20) @ Pirates (18-17)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The Pirates’ push over the .500 mark got me curious. Where, in the context of the previous 18 years, does this team fit in terms of its record through 35 games? In case you had a similar query, here are some numbers for you. Below, you’ll find the team’s record through its first 35 games (every year since 1993) and then the club’s end-of-season record.

1993: 17-18… finished 75-87
1994: 17-18… finished 53-61 (strike shortened)
1995:  13-22… finished 58-86 (strike shortened)
1996: 16-19… finished 73-89
1997: 19-16… finished 79-83
1998: 16-19… finished 69-93
1999: 18-17… finished 78-83
2000: 16-19… finished 69-93
2001: 13-22… finished 62-100
2002: 18-17… finished 72-89
2003: 14-21… finished 75-87
2004: 17-18… finished 72-89
2005: 16-19… finished 67-95
2006: 10-25… finished 67-95
2007: 15-20… finished 68-94
2008: 16-19… finished 67-95
2009: 14-21… finished 62-99
2010: 15-20… finished 57-105

As you’ll see, I’ve bolded the only three instances when the Pirates were above .500 heading into game No. 36. None of those teams ended the season with more than 79 wins. Do you think this 2011 squad can get to 82?

As for news and notes of the day…

  • A day after returning to the lineup after a few days off, Pedro Alvarez is back out. This has nothing to do with an injury, though. Alvarez confirmed he is fine, as did manager Clint Hurdle, who preferred Alvarez out against a lefty starter.
  • Right-hander Evan Meek is set to throw a bullpen session on Wednesday — this will be his first since landing on the DL. Meek, who said he felt great throwing from 120 feet today, is scheduled to throw a second bullpen in Milwaukee and then head out on a brief rehab assignment (probably two outings).  He has not yet been told where that rehab work will be.
  • Before the Pirates have to come up with a spot for Meek, they’ll have to make room for Jose Ascanio. That is, if the organization elects to bring him up. The Pirates have to decide tomorrow whether to call up Ascanio or risk losing him through waivers in an effort to assign him to Triple-A. The Pirates wanted Ascanio to make it through two innings in his rehab appearance on Monday, but the righty lasted just one (31 pitches). Not sure how much that will factor into the evaluation.
  • If Ascanio does join the Pirates, who goes? My guess would be Mike Crotta. Daniel Moskos is another possibility, though the Pirates have talked about the advantages of having two lefties. I think the club has to keep Daniel McCutchen because of the need for a long guy. That could make Crotta the odd man out.
  • Rehabbing right-hander Kevin Hart is also progressing. He is slated to throw live batting practice this week — another first. He’ll have at least two such sessions before being sent out to extended Spring Training or on a rehab assignment.
  • Ryan Doumit earns his third straight start and deservedly so. His handprints have been all over the team’s recent success. He is batting .333 with three doubles, three homers and 11 RBIs in his last 15 games.
  • After watching a replay of Jose Tabata’s “catch” on Monday, Hurdle agreed that the ball bounced into the glove. Hurdle also shared his feelings about increasing the use of instant replay, and you can find more on those in today’s Pirates.com beat.
  • Tabata continues to struggles (1-for-12 in his last four games and 8-for-63 in his last 18) and Hurdle admitted he has had conversations about moving Tabata down in the order. The dilemma is finding a good No. 2 hitter to put in place of Tabata and then figuring out where the left fielder belongs further down in the order. Conversations are ongoing.
  • Both John Bowker and Andrew Lambo had two-run homers for Triple-A Indianapolis in a win on Monday. Something I neglected to mention a few days ago was that Andy Marte was assigned to extended Spring Training in order to open up a spot for Bowker on Indianapolis’ roster. Marte isn’t hurt, there is just no roster room for him on the Triple-A team.
  • It’s rare that I take a glance at the standings, but in case you’re curious — Pirates are in third place in the NL Central, two games behind the Cardinals. Cincinnati is second with a 19-16 record.
  • Pittsburgh has won seven of its last 10 games. No team in the Majors has done better in its most recent 10 games. 
  • Though he is 5-2 this season, Kevin Correia is still searching for that first home victory. Granted, he’s only had two starts at home this season — but both have been losses. He has a 6.94 ERA in those two games at PNC Park. In his career against the Dodgers, Correia is 1-2 with a 4.24 ERA (three starts).

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), K. Correia (RHP)

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

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Yankees 4, Pirates 2

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Most everything you are going to want to read today is written fairly in-depth on the main site. So let me give you those links first:

 ***

You won’t find Kevin Correia complaining much about his start on Saturday — a start in which he threw 92 pitches (59 strikes) in six innings. This was his first six-inning outing of the spring, and it puts Correia in perfect position to be ready for his Opening Day start next Friday.

The results were pretty good, too. He served up a two-run homer to Alex Rodriguez in the first inning after narrowly missing with a two-strike slider to Mark Teixeira right before. Correia then limited the Yankees (who played mostly their “A” lineup) to just four more hits and one other run in his last six innings.

“I thought it was definitely my best outing in spring,” Correia. “I felt strong the whole time. You want your last Spring Training outing to be good. You don’t want to go into the season thinking about how you didn’t pitch well the time before. I felt pretty good about this one.”

The one thing the Pirates don’t have to worry about is Correia not being stretched out to begin the year. He has done as well as anyone on the staff in terms of getting in the spring innings necessary to pitch deep at the onset of the regular season. With 92 pitches on Saturday, Correia should be good to go over 100, as needed, on Opening Day.

“I thought he got stronger as he went on,” Hurdle said. “He expects a lot of himself. He never shuts himself down on an inning or an outing. He takes a lot of pride in getting the ball and pitching deep and getting as many innings as he can get. I thought it was a very good way for him to finish up.”

Correia will get five days of rest (instead of the normal four) before his next outing.

***

Michael Crotta allowed one run on two hits in an inning of relief, but he remains very much in the mix for a bullpen spot in Pittsburgh. One of three relievers fighting for two openings in the bullpen, Crotta hadn’t allowed an earned run (10 innings) until this game.

“He is a big guy,” Hurdle said. “He repeats his delivery pretty well. He’s got good downhill plane. It’s hard sink and he’s added a complementary breaking ball to it at times. He’s pounded the strikezone. He has done everything that he can possibly do to at least build his confidence.”

***

Don’t look now, but the Pirates have dropped five in a row and nine of the last 11. That’s not exactly the way I’d imagine the club wants to head into the regular season. Hurdle, however, downplayed the importance of needing some wins this week when asked about the losing afterward. 

“We play every game to win but if we don’t, we don’t,” he said. “We’re going to start the season and we’re not going to have any. You’ve got to play good baseball to win and we haven’t played complete games for the last 10-11 games. You have to throw a complete package out there. I’ll be more concerned when we’re running our regular team out there. Winning is always the intent, but again the focus will obviously shift to a higher degree of that once the season starts.”

With four spring games remaining, the Pirates are 10-19.

“We’ve got to go out and win ballgames and find ways to win ballgames,” first baseman Lyle Overbay said. “I think we need to do a little better job of picking each other up when things go wrong. It seems like it starts snowballing, and someone needs to pick us up – whether it’s a pitcher or a great defensive play – to snap us right out of it.”

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Day 40: Pirates @ Rays; Bucs cut five

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The Pirates cut five players from big league camp on Friday morning, in turn dwindling the number of players still around to 36. That still means that 11 players will have to leave in the next week. But the roster is beginning to take shape with some clarity.

The following moves were made on Friday:

  • RHP Tyler Yates reassigned to Minor League camp
  • RHP Sean Gallagher reassigned to Minor League camp
  • RHP Daniel McCutchen optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis
  • INF Josh Fields reassigned to Minor League camp
  • C Wyatt Toregas reassigned to Minor League camp

Also, general manager Neal Huntington confirmed that lefty Joe Beimel will not be ready to begin the season with the Major League club. Beimel will throw another bullpen session this weekend, but that does not give him time to get enough innings in before next week’s season opener. Beimel will remain in Florida for extended Spring Training and could even pitch a bit in Indianapolis, if he still needs to build his innings count by the time the Minor League season begins.

With Beimel out of the Opening Day mix, the following relievers are competing for two open spots: Garrett Olson, Brian Burres, Chris Leroux and Mike Crotta.

Other morning news and notes…

  • Huntington said that the team has not yet finalized whether it will take two or three catchers north. A decision on that should come soon, Huntington added. The makeup of the bench really hinges on which way the Pirates go with this.
  • Before leaving McKechnie Field on Friday, Fields say he was unsure whether he’d report to Triple-A Indianapolis or ask for his release.
  • With Fields out of the mix for the corner utility bench spot, that leaves Steve Pearce and Andy Marte as the last two standing. Huntington said that there really is no scenario in which both Pearce and Marte make the club.
  • Brad Lincoln (right arm contusion) threw from a distance of 120 feet on Friday and said he felt fine. He is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Saturday.
  • James McDonald remains scheduled to pitch in a Minor League game on Saturday.

On a side note, MLBlogs is changing its software (hopefully for the better) today, which means this blog is expected to be down during the afternoon hours. It might still be able to be accessed by you, but it won’t be able to be updated by me. Wanted to give you a head’s up so that you weren’t searching for anything new on here this afternoon. Once the update is done, I’ll get to learning the new program.

Lineups:

PIRATES: P. Ciriaco (CF), J. Rodriguez (SS), J. Bowker (LF), R. Doumit (C), S. Pearce (3B), M. Diaz (RF), A. Marte (1B), C. Wimberly (2B), C. Morton (RHP)

Pitchers: C. Morton, J. Hanrahan, J. Veras

RAYS: B. Zobrist (RF), E. Johnson (2B), E. Longoria (3B), M. Ramirez (DH), D. Johnson (1B), B.J. Upton (CF), K. Shoppach (C), R. Brignac (SS), S. Fuld (LF), J. Niemann (RHP)

Pitchers: J. Niemann

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Phillies 3, Pirates 2

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Most of what you’re going to want to read today is going to be on the pirates.com tonight, so I’ll refrain from rewriting all of that here. On the main site, you can read about…

  • The Pirates claimed lefty Garrett Olson off waivers and added him to the list of lefties trying to make the bullpen. GM Neal Huntington said the addition was to increase competition. I happen to believe it’s also the the result of the Pirates being worried about their other left-handed relief options.
  • Brad Lincoln left Friday’s game with a right forearm contusion, sustained when he was nailed by a line drive. We’ll know more about the injury on Saturday, but Lincoln didn’t seem to believe the ailment was anything serious. He got lucky that the ball did not hit any bone.
  • Kevin Hart will not be pitching in Pittsburgh until at least June. He has been placed on the 60-day disabled list as the slow recovery from right shoulder surgery continues.
  • Ryan Doumit went 0-for-2, was hit by a pitch and caught five innings in Friday’s game. He reported feeling just fine, so that oblique strain seems to be an issue of the past.

And below are the leftovers, which you will not find on the main site…

***

The Pirates lost this one on a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the ninth. Not that the loss means anything, but the club has now dropped six of its last seven games. Results, manager Clint Hurdle said afterward, will start meaning a little more pretty soon.

“I think right now we need to know what our personnel is,” Hurdle said. “We need to make sure that we get the questions answered that we have for ourselves coming in. The last week … there probably will be a heightened awareness of finishing games off at that point in time.”

***

As mentioned in the early blog, today was a day for those fighting for a bench spot to step up. Josh Rodriguez had a nice 2-for-3 day and Steve Pearce would have had two hits if he hadn’t been robbed on a terrific running catch in the sixth. But otherwise, there was little to get excited about offensively.

With an 0-for-3 day, Garrett Atkins has just one hit in his last 21 at-bats. That certainly is not helping his case in a four-man competition for the corner utility job. Andy Marte, on the other hand, had another hit on Friday and is now 9-for-23 this spring.

“I think we’re evaluating internally and we’ll keep it internal,” Hurdle said, when asked if anyone has stood out. “We’ll let people know as we do that. Obviously at this point in time, we’re close to having another round-them-up meeting to decide what we’re going to do with our personnel. I like the way everybody has gone about their work. I like that we have been able to move those guys fighting for the bench positions around.”

In other words, with 44 players in camp, expect another round of cuts to be coming soon. We are t-minus 14 days away from Opening Day.

***

I probably haven’t been giving Michael Crotta enough due this spring, but he has pitched quite well. Now, it should be mentioned that he has mostly faced reserves and Minor Leaguers since he’s been pitching late in games. But Crotta has gotten the ball down and made an impression.

With another scoreless inning on Friday, he has now not allowed a run in eight Grapefruit League innings. I don’t expect him to be in the Pirates’ bullpen right out of camp, but he could be a fit at some point during the season.

“He’s throwing strikes,” Hurdle said. “He continues to hold his own this spring. He’s done well.”

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Day 24: Pirates @ Yankees

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

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.

Lineups:

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

Bucs ink Fields to Minors deal

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The number of non-roster Spring Training invitations handed out by the Pirates now sits at eight after Pittsburgh announced signing infielder Josh Fields to a Minor League contract on Monday.

Fields, 28, missed most of last season recovering from right hip surgery, which he underwent in late April. Fields came off the disabled list on Sept. 1 and finished the season by appearing in 13 games with the Royals. He went 15-for-49 with three homers and six RBIs during that brief stint.

Fields was eligible for arbitration this offseason but was not tendered a contract by Kansas City. That made Fields a free agent.

A former first-round pick in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, Fields has appeared in the Majors in each of the last five seasons. He broke in with the White Sox in ’06, played in a career-high 100 games in ’07 and remained with Chicago until being traded in November 2009.

In 796 career at-bats, Fields has hit .234 with 25 doubles, 34 homers and 107 RBIs. Twenty-three of those home runs came in 2007, when the right-handed hitting Fields drove in a career-best 67 runs.

Fields came up through the White Sox’s system as a third baseman and has played mostly at third in the Majors. He has also played 22 games in left field and 17 at first base.

Fields will compete to make the Pirates’ roster as a utility player, much in the same way that another former top prospect – Andy Marte - will. The Pirates need someone who can back up Pedro Alvarez at third, and both Fields and Marte, who signed a Minor League deal with the club earlier this month, could fill that role.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Pirates eye Nieve as a starter; Marte as corner infielder

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Just spoke with general manager Neal Huntington about today’s three Minor League signs and there were two things he said that I thought would be of particular interest to you:

  • Though Fernando Nieve has been used primarily as a reliever during his time in the Majors, he will come into Spring Training and be stretched out as a starter. The Pirates plan to look at Nieve as a starting pitcher first, with the bullpen as a fallback option.
  • Andy Marte, once a top prospect in multiple organizations, will be competing for an Opening Day roster spot as a corner utility infielder. That means the Pirates plan to get him continued work at both first and third this spring.

Here is the full story.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMB

Bucs sign three to Minors deals

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Once listed as one of baseball’s top prospects, Andy Marte has signed a Minor League deal with the Pirates that includes an invitation to Spring Training. Marte is one of three Minor League signings the Pirates announced on Wednesday. Right-handed pitcher Fernando Nieve and catcher Dusty Brown also inked deals with the club.

Ranked by Baseball America as a top 15 prospects from 2004-06, Marte has yet to find his footing in the Majors. He was the Braves’ No. 1 prospect in 2005 and held that spot in the Red Sox’s organization when he was traded there for shortstop Edgar Renteria in December 2005. Marte was almost immediately flipped to Cleveland, where he remained until being outrighted by the Indians last month.

Marte, 27, has appeared in the big leagues in each of the past six seasons, though he has never played in more than 80 games. After batting .229 in 170 at-bats in 2010, Marte pushed his career average in 301 games to .218. He has a career .277 on-base percentage and 20 home runs.

Marte played third base almost exclusively in the Minors, though he did log significant time at first with Cleveland in each of the past two seasons. First base would seem the most logical fit for Marte in the Pirates’ system, too, given that Pedro Alvarez is right now entrenched as a fixture at third.

The Pirates have been looking for a right-handed hitting first baseman to potentially complement Garrett Jones at first. But because Marte has yet to prove he can be an asset on a Major League roster, that search for first base and/or right field options isn’t likely to stop.

Nieve is expected to compete for a spot in the Pirates’ bullpen. The 28-year-old right-hander appeared in 40 games (one start) with the Mets last season. He allowed 28 earned runs on 37 hits in 42 innings. Nieve issued 22 walks, while striking out 38.

He has a career 4.61 ERA in 99 games with the Mets (2009-10) and Houston (2006, 2008). Nieve’s splits against right-handed and left-handed hitters are fairly equivalent, with right-handed batters owning a .249 career average against him compared to the .256 average compiled by left-handed hitters.

With the recent departures of Erik Kratz and Luke Carlin, the Pirates needed to improve their catching depth this offseason. Brown, 28, appears a candidate to be the organization’s catcher in Triple-A, which is where Brown has spent the majority of the last three seasons.

With Triple-A Pawtucket (R.I.) in 2010, Brown threw out 27 percent of base stealers and batted .218 with 19 doubles and seven homers. He has 15 career at-bats with the Red Sox, who drafted Brown in the 35th round of the 2000 First-Year Player Draft.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

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