Results tagged ‘ Brian Burres ’

Game 37: Dodgers (17-20) @ Pirates (18-18)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

In case you missed it earlier, the Pirates made two roster moves prior to Wednesday’s game. Jose Ascanio was reinstated from the DL and is here and available for Wednesday’s game. Mike Crotta was placed on the 15-day DL with right posterior elbow inflammation. More details on those moves can be found here.

More news and notes for the day:

  • UPDATE: Neil Walker was scratched from the lineup just before gametime due to flu-like symptoms. Ronny Cedeno took Walker’s place at second, while Brandon Wood stepped in to play short.
  • Jose Tabata is out of the lineup to take a day to work on specifics with his swing. It’s no secret the last few weeks have not been kind to Tabata, who was the most consistent hitter at the start of the season. Tabata’s season average has dropped to .226 as he has just nine hits in his last 67 at-bats.
  • Crotta said that he had been bothered by the elbow discomfort for about a week. He didn’t, however, let anyone know until after his outing last night. An MRI done on his elbow came out fine today, and maybe this is an explanation as to why Crotta was having so much trouble keeping his pitches down lately. Crotta is headed to Bradenton on Thursday, where he will remain to rehab his arm.
  • The plan is not to throw Ascanio into late-inning, high-leverage situations right away if at all possible. The Pirates would like to ease him into a bullpen role, particularly to see if his numbers during a Triple-A rehab stint are indicative of his command and stuff. Ascanio did not fare all that well in the rehab assignment, though sometimes those results can mean nothing. As Ascanio said on Wednesday, he starts with all zeroes now.
  • Chris Resop, who threw 41 pitches on Tuesday, is the only reliever not available for the Pirates tonight.
  • With Andrew McCutchen’s two homers last night, he sure looked like the No. 3 hitter manager Clint Hurdle envisioned heading into the season. To this point, though, Hurdle has no intention of moving McCutchen back down in the order. “He seems to be more comfortable now. His swing is playing right there. I’m going to leave him right there.”
  • If Hurdle did want to move McCutchen down in the order, who would he even be able to put in the leadoff spot, especially with Tabata struggling?
  • Ross Ohlendorf is not currently throwing — not off the mound, not off flat ground. After throwing his session of live batting practice on Friday, Ohlendorf felt some shoulder soreness and opted to take a few days off to rest his arm. He said he expects to resume throwing in Milwaukee. Ohlendorf’s timetable just keeps getting pushed back by one thing after another. I don’t see any way he is back by the end of the month.
  • Evan Meek said he felt good during a 25-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday. He’ll play catch on Thursday, long toss Friday and throw another side session on Saturday. Then he’ll head out to Triple-A Indianapolis for two rehab appearances.
  • Brian Burres was a hard-luck loser in Triple-A Indianapolis’ game earlier today. Burres allowed only one run on four hits in seven innings, but Indianapolis’ offense never scored.
  • Altoona, on the other hand, had a huge offensive day in their morning contest. The Curve scored 13 runs for starter Jeff Locke, who allowed two runs in six innings. Starling Marte, Jordy Mercer and Miles Durham all had three hits in the win. Mercer had two homers and drove in five.
  • The Pirates have brought back their “You Score as the Bucs Score promotion” for this weekend’s series against the Brewers. For those who are unfamiliar with how the promotion works, all the details can be found here. The discounted tickets are for the upcoming series against the Tigers (May 20-22). Yovani Gallardo and Zack Greinke will both be pitching for Milwaukee during that series.
  • General manager Neal Huntington will hold a pirates.com chat with readers at 3 p.m. ET on Thursday. The chat was initially scheduled for Wednesday, so sorry for any confusion.

Lineups:

PIRATES: A. McCutchen (CF), X. Paul (LF), G. Jones (RF), L . Overbay (1B), C. Snyder (C), P. Alvarez (3B), B. Wood (SS), R. Cedeno (2B), P. Maholm (LHP)

DODGERS: J. Carroll (SS), I. DeJesue (2B), A. Ethier (RF), M. Kemp (CF), J. Uribe (3B), R. Barajas (C), J. Sands (LF), R. Mitchell (1B), H. Kuroda (RHP)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Game 11: Brewers (5-5) @ Pirates (5-5)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

With last night a wash out, let’s try this again. Not much news to report on since no game has been played since Sunday afternoon, but here are a few news and notes to run through…

  • Because of the rainout, Jeff Karstens will no longer slot into the rotation behind Kevin Correia (Wednesday) and Paul Maholm (Thursday).  Now, Charlie Morton will start against the Reds on Friday, with James McDonald slated for Saturday. Right now, the Pirates are keeping Sunday’s starter as TBD — though it’s my guess that Karstens will pitch then.
  • That would change if Karstens is needed out of the bullpen one of these next two days. And manager Clint Hurdle said Karstens will be available for relief duty through the end of the series against the Brewers.
  • If Karstens is unable to pitch on Tuesday, the Pirates would almost certainly turn to Brian Burres. Sunday will be Burres’ scheduled day to pitch next.
  • Hurdle talked for a while today about Texas’ Josh Hamilton’s ill-advised headfirst slide yesterday. Hamilton has landed on the DL because of it, and that prompted Hurdle to talk with the club again today reminding them that they do not need to be sliding headfirst, especially into home plate. The risk of injury outweighs the gamble of being safe.
  • Interesting lineup switch in the last 24 hours. On Tuesday, Garrett Jones was slated to play against righty Shaun Marcum. Now, Matt Diaz is inserted into the lineup. Why the change when it’s still Marcum on the mound tonight? Hurdle said after sleeping on it, he opted to go with Diaz for a few reasons. Diaz is swinging the bat better at the moment, and right-handed hitters have actually fared better against Marcum than left-handers.
  • The unexpected righty-lefty splits even prompted hitting coach Gregg Ritchie to talk to the team’s switch hitters about possibly hitting from the right side today. Normally, it would be a given that they’d take their swings left-handed against a right-handed pitcher. It’ll be interesting to see what Ryan Doumit and Neil Walker opt to do.
  • Evan Meek is cleared and ready to pitch out of the ‘pen today.
  • Joe Beimel reported no issues on Wednesday after pitching on back-to-back days earlier in the week. The Pirates are going to see how he is feeling tomorrow, but Hurdle strongly hinted that Beimel could be joining the team as early as Friday. The logisitics would be easy, as Indianapolis is just a two hour drive from Cincinnati.
  • Righty Bryan Morris pitched six shutout innings in his second start for Double-A Altoona this season. He allowed four hits, walked one and struck out three in the outing on Tuesday. Morris was a candidate to start the year in Triple-A and very well could have if the Pirates didn’t need to keep some Major League arms (Burres, Sean Gallagher) there as insurance.
  • Catcher Chris Snyder played his sixth game in as many days for Class A Advanced Bradenton on Tuesday. He went 1-for-4 with two runs scored.

Lineups:

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

BREWERS: R. Weeks (2B), C. Gomez (CF), R. Braun (LF), P. Fielder (1B), C. McGehee (3B), M. Kotsay (RF), R. Betancourt (SS), J. Lucroy (C), S. Marcum (RHP)

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

Astros 10, Pirates 6

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Manager Clint Hurdle and hitting coach Gregg Ritchie had Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker and Ronny Cedeno all on the field after the game today taking extra swings. Hurdle didn’t want to make that big of a deal about the extra batting practice (which three players, including Alvarez, participated in on Monday). But that doesn’t mean that the extra work shouldn’t be pointed out.

“It’s something I’ve always done,” said Hurdle, a former hitting coach. “I would have preferred to have done it a few times earlier, but we waited because of the workload these guys have been carrying. It’s just more practice is all it is.”

You can read more on pirates.com tonight specifically about what Alvarez is targeting in these extra sessions.

***

It wasn’t a great day for lefty Brian Burres, who had previously not been scored upon this spring. On Wednesday, Burres was knocked around for 10 hits and six earned runs in five innings. The good news was that Burres was able to get his pitch count up. The bad news is that a lot of those pitches were up and over the plate. Command was the biggest issue.

“Even when I was throwing strikes, it wasn’t where I wanted them all the time,” Burres said. “Little bit wild with the strike zone today. I wasn’t keeping the ball over the plate enough and when I was, it was up and they did a pretty good job taking advantage of it.”

Burres and Jeff Karstens, as Hurdle pointed out again on Wednesday, are being built up as starters as part of a Plan B. In other words, either would be ready to step in if the Pirates need another starter the first time through the rotation. This could be the case if James McDonald is not ready to begin the year in the rotation.

Otherwise, Burres still has a shot at a bullpen role. The Pirates lack left-handed options, though I have a hard time seeing Karstens and Burres (both of whom fill very similar roles) both in the bullpen.

Burres said he’s trying not to think about such roster decisions, though that’s obviously easier said than done.

“You try every time to go out there and just take it outing by outing,” Burres said. “The other stuff is going to take care of itself after you’re done pitching so you want to make it as simple as possible with how you pitch and go out there and throw as many strikes as you can and not think about what will happen afterward.”

***

Speaking of McDonald, he is scheduled to return to game action on Saturday. Hurdle said the return will likely be in a Minor League game. By pitching McDonald in a Minor League game, the Pirates would be able to place McDonald on the 15-day disabled list to start the season but could do so with a retroactive date that would allow him to miss just one start.

Players who do not appear in an “A” game after March 22 can be backdated to the 22nd for DL purposes. That means that a player would eligible to come off the DL on April 6.

Burres or Karstens could step in for that one start and then McDonald could jump back into the rotation.

I bring this up as a possibility simply because McDonald has yet to pitch more than 2 2/3 innings in any of his three starts. He has time for just two outings (Saturday and then another late next week) before he’d be up in the rotation, and I just wonder if that’s enough time to get his pitch count up to where it needs to be.

***

Catcher Chris Snyder had 10 at-bats in a Minor League game on Wednesday, Hurdle reported, and will return behind the plate for the Pirates’ game against the Orioles on Thursday.

***

With another two hits and a walk, Lyle Overbay just keeps on producing this spring. He’s now batting .425 (17-for-40) and has hit safely in 11 of his last 12 games.

Spring Training results often mean little, but the Pirates are hopeful that these recent results are a product of Overbay’s changed approach at the plate. If so, the success could carry over into the season.

“We started talking about him being more aggressive in the count early,” Hurdle said. “He’s had a good eye. Last season, we talked about the reason for some of the numbers. I think last season was more of an aberration.

“This man is determined this spring. He has made a conscious effort of getting out of the blocks clean. The confidence should have been built up. I think he’s found an approach that is going to work. It’s good to see.”

***

On the main site tonight, you can find notes about Alvarez’s extra work, Matt Diaz’s determination to get off to a better start, John Bowker’s push for a bench spot and Snyder’s expected return.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Orioles 13, Pirates 3

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Brian Burres deserves mention here, and serious consideration for one of the Pirates’ 25 roster spots. I understand that Spring Training results aren’t everything, but Burres has pitched quite well this spring. He shouldn’t be under the radar anymore.

Working against Burres is the fact that he would fit into a role much like the one Jeff Karstens is expected to hold — spot starter, long relief guy, etc. But since Karstens is on the roster and due to make $1.1 million this year, it’s hard to see the Pirates not bringing Karstens north.

If Charlie Morton gets the fifth spot in the Pirates’ rotation and the other four starters are healthy, there isn’t a place for Burres to start. There is at least one spot left in the bullpen, so maybe that is a place where Burres can fit.

To this point, the thinking seems to have been that Scott Olsen would land as the second lefty in the ‘pen if he didn’t crack the rotation. But Olsen hasn’t done all that well in his first two appearances, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that Burres could have an edge over Olsen. The fact that the Pirates owe Olsen very little in guaranteed salary would mean that the club wouldn’t be on the hook for that much money if Olsen doesn’t stick.

This is certainly something to keep an eye on as the last two weeks play out. Of course, Burres could also be asked to accept an assignment in Triple-A, where he would start and wait until the Pirates need a fill-in starter.

***

Speaking of Burres, he pitched four shutout innings in the Pirates’ intrasquad game on Thursday. He allowed two hits, walked two and struck out five.

“It went well,” Burres said. “I felt good and got the pitch count up. I worked with the fastball pretty good.”

In addition to those results, Burres has pitched nine scoreless innings in Grapefruit League action.

“There are a couple things that I still want to continue to do,” Burres said. “But as far as where I am now, I think I’ve done a pretty decent job this spring trying to do the things that I’ve wanted to do.”

***

Karstens hasn’t had as good of results as Burres has, but the right-hander is nonetheless pleased with his progression to this point. Pitching mostly against players from the Pirates’ Latin American teams, Karstens didn’t allow a hit and struck out six in three innings in the intrasquad game.

“With some of the young guys it’s a little bit easier because their approach is a little bit different,” Karstens said afterward. “When you’re over here [in big league camp], you know the guys have an idea of what they’re trying to do. But I tried to come in with some fastballs after the first inning. I made some mistakes with it – got away with them – and I made some good pitches. It’s a positive note. I was able to get ahead. Just nice to get back out there and throw more than two innings.”

Karstens has made four Grapefruit League appearances, three of which have been two-inning outings. In those seven innings, Karstens has allowed nine hits, two earned runs and walked three.

***

There was good and bad to Ross Ohlendorf’s start on Thursday — though Ohlendorf would attest that there was more good. The pitching line is ugly — six earned runs on eight hits in three innings. But it wasn’t, Ohlendorf said, as bad as it might have seemed.

“I was actually really happy with how I threw the ball today,” he said. “The results, obviously, weren’t very good in that last inning, but a lot of the early hits weren’t hit that well. I felt like I kept the ball down when I wanted to much better than the game before. I threw the ball much better than I did before even though the results weren’t really indicative of that.”

Ohlendorf did make a mistake on a slider to Jake Fox, and that resulted in a two-run homer. The only other ball hit pretty hard in that six-run third inning could easily have been caught by Jose Tabata in the outfield.

“The challenge at this level is putting innings away,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “I thought there were times when he was throwing the ball really well – getting the ball inside when he wanted to. He spun the ball OK on occasion. But the one inning got away from us. There was some positive in it, but the inability to put away the inning that’s where we have to get better.”

Still, it’s not pretty when you consider that Ohlendorf has allowed 10 earned runs in his last two games (five innings). And probably the biggest concern is that Ohlendorf has yet to go more than three innings in any of his starts.

Yes, he is throwing the pitches needed to build up his arm. But there is something to be said for pitchers using those pitches efficiently to get through four or five innings by this point in the spring.

Right now, only Paul Maholm and Kevin Correia have made a five-inning spring start.

“We’ve got work to do,” Hurdle said. “We’re not throwing enough strikes. We don’t have good enough command right now. I have no idea what our pitch count was today, but we threw way too many pitches today. We’d like to see our starters lengthen things out. There is work to be done. That’s what Spring Training is for. That’s why you have the amount of games that you have, and that’s why these starters have to keep building up their pitch counts.”

***

Both Joe Beimel and Olsen pitched again on Thursday, and the results weren’t too pretty.

Beimel was charged with three earned runs on three hits and a walk in an inning of relief. This was his second spring appearance.

As for Olsen, he was unable to finish two innings, as he had to be taken out after pitching 1 1/3. Olsen gave up three runs on three hits and three walks. He struck out one.

“We’ll keep feeding them the ball, too,” Hurdle said. “They started out behind. Neither one of them are complaining about any injuries or any arm fatigue or anything like that, so just keep feeding them the ball.”

I’m still skeptical that Olsen is truly in that fifth starter mix, and Hurdle didn’t exactly affirm that Olsen was when I asked the question afterward.

In response to a question about whether Olsen was still a candidate for the rotation, Hurdle answered: “I don’t know. He could be. I can’t say no. I’ll leave the speculation out there for people who want to speculate. I’ll keep giving him the ball and see where it takes him.”

That’s not exactly a yes.

***

Catcher Ryan Doumit (mild oblique strain) is scheduled to play in Friday’s game against the Phillies. Doumit went 3-for-4 with a double and home run in a Minor League game on Thursday. 

Though Doumit hasn’t played since March 8, he will have plenty of time to get ready for Opening Day assuming there are no further setbacks.

***

Outfielder Miles Durham said he was OK after a nasty collision with the right field wall in the ninth inning. He was down for a while, but walked off the field without any help. And he seemed just fine about 20 minutes later when he was leaving the ballpark.

“A big man hit the wall really, really hard,” Hurdle said.

***

On the main site tonight, you can read more about the changes Steve Pearce is making to his swing and how those changes might help him in his case for a bench spot. There will also be items on Burres/Karstens, Pedro Ciriaco’s day in centerfield and Olsen’s focus on staying healthy.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Intrasquad results

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Some highlights from this morning’s intrasquad game at Pirate City this morning:

  • LHP Brian Burres pitched four shutout innings. He allowed two hits, two walks and struck out five
  • RHP Jeff Karstens threw three scoreless innings. He struck out six and did not allow a walk
  • RHP Evan Meek and RHP Fernando Nieve each tossed two scoreless innings of relief
  • Steve Pearce went 2-for-3 with two doubles and an RBI. He played third and had two balls hit to him in the seven-inning game. He made both plays cleanly

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Day 32: Orioles @ Pirates

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Hours from the start of the NCAA basketball tournament, the focus in the Pirates’ clubhouse this morning was all basketball. Players were finishing up brackets and officially joining the clubhouse pool. There are some serious bragging rights up for grabs at this time of the year, and you can be sure that college basketball will overtake SportsCenter as the preferred channel on the TV clubhouse for the next four days.

Your morning news…

  • As mentioned yesterday, the Pirates have an intrasquad game over at Pirate City this morning. Pedro Ciriaco (CF) and Steve Pearce (3B) will get more work at their new positions. Brian Burres and Jeff Karstens will both make extended-inning starts in the contest.
  • Catcher Ryan Doumit is no longer slated to play in the intrasquad game. Instead, he will bat every inning in a Minor League game at Pirate City this afternoon. He’ll get plenty of at-bats — and that is the key.
  • Pearce said he has eliminated the leg kick from his swing in an effort to make him better prepared for a bench role — which is what he is hoping to earn by the end of the month. Without a leg kick, Pearce has less movement with his swing. Less movement is a good thing when the at-bats aren’t as consistent. You can read more about Pearce’s adjustment on pirates.com later this afternoon.
  • I should have mentioned this earlier, but I was told that Kiyoshi Momose (the Pirates’ Lating American Strength and Conditioning Coordinator) has communicated with all his family in Japan since the earthquake/tsunami. All are OK. Momose was born in Nagano. I was also told he has talked with Aki Iwamura and Masumi Kuwata, both of whom are reportedly doing fine.
  • Happy St. Patty’s Day to the Irish among you. The Pirates will be wearing forest green hats on the field today, and there will be green bases for the game.
  • The following pitchers are scheduled to throw on Friday in Clearwater: Brad Lincoln, Chris Resop, Jose Veras, Michael Crotta, Chris Leroux
  • This is your last reminder that the blog NCAA challenge closes at tipoff of the first NCAA game this afternoon. You can go here to log-in and then search for (and join) the group Bucs Bits Bloggers. Best of luck to all. And since a few of you suggested there be an actual prize for the winner, I’ll see what I can do.

Lineups:

PIRATES: J. Tabata (LF), N. Walker (2B), A. McCutchen (CF), P. Alvarez (3B), L. Overbay (1B), M. Diaz (RF), R. Cedeno (SS), J. Jaramillo (C), R. Ohlendorf (RHP)

Pitchers: R. Ohlendorf, J. Beimel, S. Olsen, D. McCutchen, S. Gallagher

ORIOLES: F. Pie (CF), J.J Hardy (SS), N. Reimold (LF), M. Wieters (DH), J. Fox (C), R. Winn (RF), B. Harris (2B), J. Bell (3B), B. Snyder (1B)

Pitchers: C. Tillman, J. Rupe, J. Accardo

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Day 31: Blue Jays @ Pirates

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

There is an MLB Security meeting (another one of those annual Spring Training meetings) going on currently in the clubhouse. So since players are unavailable, I figured I’d get the blog rolling a little earlier than usual today.

In case you didn’t visit pirates.com on Tuesday because it was an off day, let me draw your attention to this playground build that was led by Pirates outfielder Matt Diaz. Diaz runs a foundation with his wife Leslee, and their latest project was to purchase and build a playground for the Boys and Girls Club of Winter Haven.

He invited teammates to make the 90-minute drive to Winter Haven to help build, though Diaz said he didn’t expect anyone to show up given that Tuesday was the team’s first off day of the spring. And yet four teammates — Charlie Morton, Jeff Karstens, Justin Thomas, Brian Burres – came to help, as did Triple-A manager Dean Treanor and hitting coach Gregg Ritchie. I showed up, too, to document the event, and I think I was most impacted by the willingness of these Pirates players/coaches to go out of their way to give something back to kids during their precious free time.

Even if you don’t want to read the story about the community work day, I recommend you check out the video.

As for your other morning news…

  • Manager Clint Hurdle will not be managing the Major League team on Wednesday. Instead, Woody Huyke, who has spent the last 42 years with the organization, will be taking over managerial duties for the day. Hurdle is observing Minor League camp today.
  • The team is supposed to issue injury updates on, at minimum, catchers Chris Snyder and Ryan Doumit today. I’m hoping the team also has something to say about James McDonald, though as I’ve mentioned previously, the Pirates’ new policy is to say very, very little about injuries.
  • Scott Olsen, who made his spring debut on Monday, will take the mound on Thursday for appearance No. 2. Depending on his efficiency, Olsen will pitch one or two innings.
  • Also pitching on Thursday will be: Ross Ohlendorf, Joe Beimel, Daniel McCutchen and Sean Gallagher.
  • In case you missed it on Tuesday, former Pirates pitcher Ian Snell announced he is retiring after the Cardinals informed him he was headed to Minor League camp. Details here. I will add that Snell earned over $8 million in a career that spanned five seasons and included a 38-53 record.
  • While the Pirates do have a home game against the Orioles on Thursday, the club will be sending a handful of pitchers over to Pirate City to pitch in an intrasquad game. Burres (four innings) and Karstens (three/four innings) will both use this as an opportunity to get stretched out. Tyler Yates and Evan Meek are slated to throw two innings, as well
  • Another reminder for those who want to get in on the NCAA Basketball blog challenge. Go to ESPN.com’s tournament page and search for Bucs Bits Bloggers. Join that group and fill out your bracket if you want to get in on the friendly competition.

Lineups:

PIRATES: J. Tabata (LF), N. Walker (2B), A. McCutchen (CF), P. Alvarez (3B), L. Overbay (1B), Garrett Jones (RF), R. Cedeno (SS), D. Brown (C), P. Maholm (LHP)

Pitchers: P. Maholm, J. Hanrahan, C. Resop, J. Veras, M. Crotta

BLUE JAYS: C. Patterson (CF), M. McCoy (SS), E. Encarnacion (3B), E. Thames (LF), J. Molina (C), D. Cooper (1B), J.P. Arencibia (DH), J. Tolisano (RF), J. Diaz (2B)

Pitchers: K. Drabek, C. Villanueva, C. Janssen. S. Henn, Ro. Lewis

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Pirates 9, Red Sox 4

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

As the largest crowd in McKechnie Field history shuffles out of here, let’s get to some postgame leftovers…

***

Manager Clint Hurdle continues to experiment with a variety of lineups this spring. Hardly any two ever seem to be alike. He said he’ll continue to shuffle players around to see how guys fit in different spots until there are about 8-10 days left in Spring Training. At that point, Hurdle plans to use a batting order that will resemble the one he begins the season with.

Right now, the biggest question seems to be: Where will Andrew McCutchen bat? I continue to get the sense that Hurdle really likes McCutchen in the No. 3 spot, so don’t be surprised if he ends up there and Jose Tabata bats lead off to begin the year. Tabata hit from that top spot again on Sunday and drew his second walk of the spring.

“I’ve really liked his approach leading off,” Hurdle said of Tabata. “He’s shown some discipline. He’s had some walks. He can hit the ball the other way. He’s got speed when he gets on. He looks like that’s something that he’s able to do.”

***

It sounds as if the Pirates have already determined who the Opening Day starter will be, but that doesn’t mean Hurdle is ready to make an announcement. It didn’t sound like Hurdle plans to make anything official until about 10 days left in camp.

In the meantime, he seems to be having fun keeping the secret: “We might already have it lined up and you just don’t know it.”

I still have my money on Paul Maholm.

***

Over the last few weeks of Spring Training, the Pirates are going to continue to shuffle position players around to get them work at any position they might be called upon to play in emergency duty during the season. That’s why Tabata was out in center on Sunday and Pedro Ciriaco spent the final four innings playing third.

Also, look for Garrett Jones to get a little work at first base (insurance in case anything were to happen to Lyle Overbay) and for Josh Rodriguez to get some innings at third.

***

Brad Lincoln had a relatively easy first two innings on Sunday before struggling a bit in the third. The Red Sox scored twice against Lincoln, who also threw away the ball on an attempted pick-off, in that final frame he pitched. To Lincoln’s credit, he did bounce back and finish off the inning without letting it get any more out of control.

As much as Lincoln is set on proving he deserves that fifth spot in the rotation, I just get the feeling he’s headed back to Triple-A. And that’s not a feeling caused by anything Lincoln is or is not doing.

Assuming James McDonald doesn’t have a lingering injury, the Pirates still have just one rotation opening. Charlie Morton and Brian Burres have stood out this spring and are both serious contenders for that spot. And the Pirates aren’t counting out Scott Olsen just yet.

Lincoln could simply be hurt by having an option year left, meaning the Pirates can shuttle him back and forth from Triple-A to the Majors without the risk of losing him. The Pirates don’t enjoy that same flexibility with Morton.

One of the big things the Pirates said that they wanted to see from Lincoln this spring was continued development of and confidence to throw the changeup. How is the pitch coming along to this point?

“I like the fact that he is throwing it more,” Hurdle said. “He’s going to have to have a third pitch. He’s going to have to throw it in some offensive counts. I thought he got in some good rhythm today at times, and I thought there were a few times when he rushed. Happy the way he pinched off the one inning. He’s working in the right direction.”

***

The team is off to the new-and-improved Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota on Monday. I’ve heard the facelift done to the ballpark is terrific, so I’m excited to see it for myself. On the main site tonight, you’ll find notes about Olsen and Joe Beimel (who are making their respective spring debuts on Monday), another about Joel Hanrahan’s elusive slider and a third about Daniel McCutchen’s efforts to try and fit in.

Also, I’ve been asked already if I plan to run another Bucs Bits Bloggers Bracket Buster (say-that-five-times-fast) Challenge. And, indeed, I do. The college basketball selection show is tonight, so either tonight or tomorrow, I will create a friendly (but, of course, competitive) bracket tournament for any interested blog readers. Check back on the blog tomorrow for details on how to join.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

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