Results tagged ‘ Clint Hurdle ’
Manager Clint Hurdle made a point when he benched Ronny Cedeno for one game last month after Cedeno didn’t run out a ball. Hurdle made a POINT on Thursday when he left Andrew McCutchen out of the lineup for the same reason. Sitting a guy who has been in the doghouse before and isn’t one of the integral pieces in the lineup can be pretty easy to do. But to make an effective point, Hurdle needed to be consistent — and he’s being just that by letting the team know that he’ll call out anyone for a lack of effort.
“We are focused on winning, but we are focused on building something greater and better as we go forward,” Hurdle said. “I think there are certain things that are non-negotiable along those lines.”
McCutchen did not run to first in the eighth inning after striking out. He will, Hurdle said, be available off the bench on Thursday.
Other news and notes:
- Second baseman Neil Walker is back in the lineup… for now. Walker was going to go through batting practice and see how he felt closer to game time. Those flu-like symptoms that kept him out on Wednesday (Walker was sent home before the game began) aren’t completely gone — but he is improving.
- If Walker can’t play — or whenever he gets future days off — it sounds like Cedeno would be the first choice to play second. Cedeno and Brandon Wood have been getting work there for the past week, but the Pirates felt more comfortable using Cedeno at the position and he did nothing last night that has changed anyone’s mind.
- Steve Pearce has actually been getting work at second over the past two days as well. This is a case of, well, just in case. Pearce isn’t going to be making starts at second, and he remains behind Walker, Cedeno and Wood on the depth chart at the position. But if the Pirates get into a bind, they like having Pearce as an emergency option.
- Right-hander Kevin Hart threw 25 pitches in a simulated live batting practice session. It was an encouraging sign for a guy who hadn’t thrown to hitters since having shoulder surgery in May 2010.
- For those not in the local market, tonight’s Dodgers-Pirates game is the MLB.TV free game of the day. Log on to MLB.com and watch the game online.
PIRATES: X. Paul (CF), J. Tabata (LF), G. Jones (RF), N. Walker (2B), P. Alvarez (3B), L. Overbay (1B), C. Snyder (C), R. Cedeno (SS), C. Morton (RHP)
DODGERS: T. Gwynn Jr (LF), A. Miles (2B), A. Ethier (RF), M. Kemp (CF), J. Uribe (3B), J. Loney (1B), D. Navarro (C), J. Carroll (SS), J. Garland (RHP)
Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB
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.
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
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).
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
Daniel Moskos arrived in Denver today, and, as you can imagine, is thrilled about his first Major League call-up. He got summed to the manager’s office while he was taking a post-game shower after Triple-A Indianapolis’ game on Friday. Manager Dean Treanor asked Moskos if he had a suit and followed that up with a Congratulations.
As it turned out, Moskos’ girlfriend had traveled to Indianapolis to see him pitch there this weekend, so now she’s joining him in Denver. Moskos said his parents will be in the Coors Field stands as well on Saturday night. I hope they packed for cold temperatures, as it is supposed to start snowing tonight at some point.
Moskos got the call after the Pirates decided it was finally time to put Evan Meek on the DL. Meek will have an MRI on his shoulder next week just to make sure the issue is nothing more than inflammation. But he seems to think he’ll be able to get the rest he needs in order to come off as soon as he is eligible (May 12).
Other news and notes…
- With Moskos on the roster, the Pirates have two lefties in the bullpen for the first time this year. That will give manager Clint Hurdle the flexibility to call in either Moskos or Joe Beimel in left-on-left situations and know he still has another lefty available later. That’s a luxury Hurdle has wanted from the start.
- As for the eighth inning, Hurdle will continue to mix-and-match with what reliever he uses to get to closer Joel Hanrahan. Chris Resop and Jose Veras are the most likely to get the call, though Beimel would be another option.
- Speaking of Hanrahan, if he is able to get a save on Saturday, he would be the first Pirates pitcher since Mike Williams in 2002 to have more than eight saves in the month of April.
- Righty Ross Ohlendorf has thrown two bullpen sessions without issue this week. He still has to throw at least one session of live batting practice before a rehab stint would begin.
- Ronny Cedeno’s triple in Friday’s win was the first three-base hit the Pirates have had all year. As you can imagine, they were the only club without a triple this late into the month. The last club to go this long into a season without a triple was the 2005 Yankees, who hit their first triple in their 27th game. Cedeno’s came in game No. 26.
- In case you missed the note in last night’s game story, the Pirates hadn’t had a shutout in the city of Denver ever until Friday. The team has played 74 games here (65 in Coors Field).
- For all the flak the organization takes about failed first-round Draft picks, it’s worth noting that the club now has five of its first-round picks on the Major League roster. Moskos (2007) joins Paul Maholm (2003), Neil Walker (2004), Andrew McCutchen (2005) and Pedro Alvarez (2008).
- The next road win for the Pirates would give them more than half the total number of road wins they had all last season. Yes, really.
- Garrett Jones is hitting .341 on the road this year. He’s also batting just .130 at home, though he doesn’t have to worry about that stat for almost another week.
PIRATES: A. McCutchen (CF), J. Tabata (LF), G. Jones (RF), N. Walker (2B), L. Overbay (1B), C. Snyder (C), P. Alvarez (3B), R. Cedeno (SS), P. Maholm (LHP)
ROCKIES: D. Fowler (CF), J. Herrera (2B), T. Helton (1B), T. Tulowitzki (SS), C. Gonzalez (LF), J. Lopez (3B), S. Smith (RF), C. Iannetta (C), J. Hammel (RHP)
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So let us revisit Sunday for a few minutes before we look ahead to tonight’s makeup game since manager Clint Hurdle took some time to do so this afternoon.
I just can’t shake Hurdle’s response on Sunday afternoon when he was asked if it was smart to have Andrew McCutchen try to score on a sacrifice fly with two out in the ninth. For those of you who were off enjoying your Easter and not in front of the television… the context was this: McCutchen was on third with one out and the Pirates trailing, 6-3. Jose Tabata lifted a fly ball to middle right field. Jayson Werth camped under it for out No. 2. McCutchen tagged, took off for home and was tagged out on Werth’s terrific throw. Game over. With Lyle Overbay on-deck and Neil Walker waiting behind him.
The key to this situation is the club was down by three runs. With two outs. In the ninth.
I thought it was plenty appropriate to ask why McCutchen would run in that situation, so the first question I directed at Hurdle was — “Given that you were down by three runs, would you have preferred that McCutchen stay on third in that situation?”
Hurdle’s response: “No.”
Hurdle then began his defense: “The only reason we’re asked that question is because he’s out. I bet everybody in the ballpark, including you, thought we were going to send him.”
Actually, I didn’t think McCutchen would be sent. But I thought it might be rude to mention that in a press conference.
More from Hurdle: “You never want to make the last out at home, but sometimes those things are going to happen. It’s not a perfect world. It’s not a perfect game. Our mentality is to play aggressive. That’s going to win us more games. We get one there, who knows where it takes us. We’re going to send that guy.”
I’m still entirely unconvinced. McCutchen’s run in that situation means so little. He should not take off for home unless he is 100 percent — no, 150 percent — positive he is going to be safe. I agree that 9 times out of 10 that fly ball scores McCutchen. I’d advocate for him to run in that situation in innings one through eight. I’d advocate for him to run in the ninth if the team is down by one. But not when the club was going to need at least two more hitters to come to the plate for the chance to tie the game.
Hurdle’s final comment on the play: “Look what kind of throw it took. There are probably two guys in the league that can make that throw. He’s one of them.”
Hurdle is absolutely correct. But since it’s obviously no secret that Werth has a heck of an arm, isn’t that even more reason not to try and run on him?
I never got the impression Hurdle was giving these answers in an effort not to call out third base coach Nick Leyva or McCutchen for the decision to run. He firmly agrees with it. And he backed that up with what he said on Monday.
“It’s about doing the right thing at the right time for the right reason. And I do believe all of those were in place. We got the wrong outcome. … I expected him to go. I would have been more shocked if he wouldn’t have gone. I don’t ever want to wonder if he would have been safe.
“We’re not a conventional team. Things happen within this game that are instinctive and impulsive. Yes, in hindsight, when it’s 30 seconds later, that shouldn’t have happened. But in the heat of the moment with adrenaline fueling and excitement and an aggressive mentality…
“I think now we have a better yard mark on when we go and when we don’t go as far as distance into right field. Was it a gamble? Absolutely. Did it not work out? Absolutely. Am I happy with the aggressive mentality? Absolutely.”
For the record, Leyva told me on Monday that he told McCutchen to run: “It’s very easy to say that wasn’t the right situation, but I thought he could make it. It’s a judgement call. They don’t give you a do-over. He’s probably the fastest guy on the team. I thought the ball carried far enough. I know Werth’s got as good as arm as anybody. I know [Rick] Ankiel has as good an arm as anybody. If I didn’t think he could make it, I wouldn’t have sent him.”
And with that, we turn the page to Monday’s news and notes…
- Lyle Overbay and Pedro Alvarez are out of the lineup, with Steve Pearce and Brandon Wood taking their places. Hurdle said he wanted to get Overbay a day off simply because the first baseman has started every game of the season so far. Hurdle also wanted Wood to get some playing time and figured sitting Alvarez against a lefty could be a good idea.
- Sitting Overbay and Alvarez also loads the lineup with right-handed hitters. Nationals pitcher John Lannan is allowing righties to hit .360 against him this season. Left-handed hitters are batting .167. Lannan’s career splits aren’t so drastic, however (.273 batting average for right-handed hitters; .272 mark for left-handed ones).
- A number of Pirates players have had success against Lannan, led by Matt Diaz (11-for-22)
- Evan Meek is still sick. It’s a viral thing, he says, but the guy has been under the weather for weeks now. Not that it’s going to stop him from pitching.
PIRATES: A. McCutchen (CF), J. Tabata (LF), M. Diaz (RF), N. Walker (2B), S. Pearce (1B), B. Wood (3B), C. Snyder (C), R. Cedeno (SS), P. Maholm (LHP)
NATIONALS: D. Espinosa (2B), I. Desmond (SS), J. Werth (RF), A. LaRoche (1B), M. Morse (LF), W. Ramos (C), J. Hairston (CF), B. Bixler (3B), J. Lannan (LHP)
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Since manager Clint Hurdle seemed a tad disappointed that no one asked the question during the media’s pregame session, let me begin by sharing his unsolicited thoughts about Jose Tabata. Hurdle was specifically impressed with Tabata’s plate discipline and willingness to take a six-pitch walk in final at-bat on Wednesday. Tabata entered the night with a 10-game hitting streak but was 0-for-2 with a walk when he came to the plate in the eighth.
By taking a walk, he lost his chance at adding another game to his personal streak.
“I’m not saying it’s normal, but you’ll find players at times that will put individual accomplishments in front of the game from time to time,” Hurdle said. “A young man going up there, knowing what he needed to do and got down early in the count… took a walk. He’ll have other 10-game hitting streaks. He’ll have longer ones than that. But it was very encouraging to see that that’s his mindset. His mindset is not that he can have an 11-game hitting streak.”
Tabata can begin a new hitting streak tonight. Obviously, he has still reached base in every game this year.
Other pregame news and notes…
- Catcher Chris Snyder is back and is in the lineup. This means that Ryan Doumit will not see nearly the playing time he had through 11 games. Hurdle didn’t specify what proportion of games Snyder will catch, but it’s clear that Snyder is the team’s primary catcher. He is likely to get a few more days off early on just to ease him back into action.
- For all the flak Doumit took last year about not being able to throw out runners, he has been much, much better so far this year. Doumit has thrown out three of six runners trying to steal against him and has just looked more comfortable in the process. The pitchers appear to be helping, too, as the stopwatches show that balls are getting from the mound to the plate quicker than they were a year ago.
- Expect lefty Joe Beimel to be joining the club in Cincinnati on Friday. He has completed his rehab assignment with Triple-A Indianapolis. A move will have to be made to put Beimel on the 40-man roster.
- Righty Jeff Karstens is available in the bullpen again tonight, but this is the last night he will be a ‘pen option. The Pirates haven’t announced him as Sunday’s starter, but you can expect Karstens to step in for the start assuming he isn’t needed in long relief tonight.
- Third baseman Pedro Alvarez gets the night off on Thursday. He arrived at the ballpark early to take some extra swings, and Hurdle said there are some specific mechanical tweaks that were focused on during the session. Hurdle didn’t get into details, but he did suggest that Alvarez’s confidence could be boosted by him being able to start back at the basics.
- Taking Alvarez’s place at third base will be Steve Pearce. This will be Pearce’s first start at third in the Majors. He was a late-inning substitution there on Saturday.
- Matt Diaz moves into the cleanup spot, which would seem warranted given his 5-for-19 start. Who would have guessed, though, that all of Diaz’s hits to this point would be off righties? He is 0-for-4 against lefties.
- Lyle Overbay, who dropped to the sixth spot in the order, is also looking for his first hit against a left-hander.
PIRATES: J. Tabata (LF), N. Walker (2B), A. McCutchen (CF), M. Diaz (RF), S. Pearce (RF), L. Overbay (1B), C. Snyder (C), R. Cedeno (SS), P. Maholm (LHP)
BREWERS: R. Weeks (2B), C. Gomez (CF), R. Braun (LF), P. Fielder (1B), C. McGehee (3B), Y. Betancourt (SS), E. Almonte (RF), J. Lucroy (C), R. Wolf (LHP)
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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.
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)
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Well, it’s not snowing. That’s the nicest thing I can say about the weather at this point. It’s not raining as hard as it was at my house earlier in the day, but there it appears to still be misting on this overcast day. The forecast suggests there could be a window for baseball tonight, so let’s hope.
On a separate subject, don’t forget that the Pirates 5K is set for tomorrow (Saturday) morning. The Pirates announced that 2,500 runners/walkers have already signed up, but there will be limited additional registration from 6:30-7:30 am on Federal Street. All participants get a free t-shirt and ticket voucher, and your money goes to Pirates Charities. Not to mention, you get the honor of running alongside me, assuming I can successfully fight off this virus that has gotten the best of me for the past week.
What more could you ask for.
OK, on to baseball…
- In case you missed it earlier, the news is not good for Tyler Yates. You have to wonder if he’s about ready to call it quits. It’s coming up on two years since he first had right elbow surgery and this latest setback is not the first. Yates told me this spring that his father had talked him out of retiring before, but this could be the last straw.
- Right-hander Ramon Aguero is now with Texas, having been claimed off waivers by the Rangers today. Aguero, who was on Pittsburgh’s 40-man roster, had been designated for assignment in order to open up a roster spot for Jose Veras right before Opening Day.
- Catcher Chris Snyder (lower back soreness) began his rehab assignment with high-A Bradenton on Thursday and went 2-for-3 with a double and one RBI. He caught in the game as well.
- Lefty Joe Beimel is scheduled to pitch for Bradenton on Friday. This will be his first rehab appearance.
- The Pirates face a left-handed starter today for the first time this season. That explains Matt Diaz’s inclusion in the lineup. Also worth noting is the batting order. Manager Clint Hurdle has Diaz hitting fifth and Pedro Alvarez behind him at No. 6. His reasoning for the flip-flop? He wants to go avoid a string of lefty hitters, and by putting Diaz between Lyle Overbay and Alvarez, Hurdle has a left-right-left mix.
- During his pregame meeting with media, Hurdle also emphasized his policy with not using a reliever for more than three days in a row. Period. Exceptions to this rule are going to be rare (if at all) — Hurdle said the reasoning for that comes after lengthy research about how pitching more than three days in a row leads to more injuries and less effectiveness.
PIRATES: J. Tabata (LF), N. Walker (2B), A. McCutchen (CF), L. Overbay (1B), M. Diaz (RF), P. Alvarez (3B), J. Jaramillo (C), R. Cedeno (SS), R. Ohlendorf (RHP)
ROCKIES: D. Fowler (CF), J. Herrera (2B), C. Gonzalez (LF), T. Tulowitzki (SS), T. Helton (1B), S. Smith (RF), T. Wigginton (3B), C. Iannetta (C), J. De La Rosa (LHP)
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‘Irony’ was a word that manager Clint Hurdle threw out there on Thursday morning, and I think it was an appropriate one given the circumstances. The context, of course, was Hurdle getting to face his former team and manager Jim Tracy in his first game in Pittsburgh.
Tracy served as Hurdle’s bench coach in Colorado and eventually replaced him when Hurdle was fired during the 2009 season. And Pirates fans don’t forget that Tracy was once the manger here in Pittsburgh, before John Russell and before Hurdle. Ah, lots of irony to enjoy.
“It’s great for you [the media],” Hurdle said. “Outside of that, it’s not that big of deal. I was able to help out a lot more in the advanced scouting meeting than with the two teams we just played with the personnel over there. I am proud to have spent the time I spent in the Colorado Rockies organization. I was humbled by that opportunity. That one is behind me, they have a good man in charge of that ballclub and they have a good ballclub and they have a good organization. There are a lot of lasting relationships that I made there which will move forward with me and my family. Outside of that, they want to put the wood to us and we’re looking to put the wood to them.”
Tracy, who received plenty of boos from the crowd when he was introduced prior to the game, was also asked about returning to Pittsburgh under these circumstances.
“It’s always good to be back,” Tracy said. “I think the added pleasure to coming back this time is the fact of the man that’s in charge over there and the relationship that I’ve built with him over the years. I’ve respectful of not only who he is but the opportunity to come to this organization as a coach in 2009, obviously created by him.
“I would have had no interest in coming to this organization as a coach if it had not been presented to me in the manner in which it was, and that was the manager himself asked me the question and said he wanted me to come over here. Our relationship goes back much further than that, too, becuase of the number of games that we managed against one another in the National League West over the course of five years. It’s really neat as far as I’m concerned to see them and him off to a good start.”
Tracy also added: “I’ll be a big fan for 155 games, I promise you.”
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I continue to get a number of questions about Clint Hurdle, specifically from people curious about how he differs from previous manager John Russell. I think their contrasting personalities have come across quite plainly in interviews or public appearances that Hurdle has made already. But let me also offer you this…
Hurdle is omnipresent in the clubhouse. He was at Wrigley Field to greet players (saying good morning or hello or whatever greeting he desired) as each player entered the clubhouse this morning. He sat with them to watch MLB Network highlights with his hat on backward and a bat in hands. He is constantly engaging in conversations with guys and very much a vocal presence.
He also showed little hesitancy in singling out Pedro Alvarez when asked about what went wrong on the two dropped pop-ups in the infield on Friday (more on that in today’s Beat on the main site later).
Hurdle has said he does not want to take over the clubhouse — which is the players’ quarters. But he’s not going to hide, he’s bound to keep his team accountable and he desires to have a relationship with his players.
Other news and notes…
- Hurdle gave Neil Walker the umpires’ lineup card from Friday’s game as a memento for the second baseman’s big game. Speaking of Walker, he is now 17-for-36 in his career against Chicago with six doubles, four homers and 11 RBIs. Walker has hit safely in all 10 games he’s played against the Cubs.
- Jason Jaramillo will start Sunday’s game, Hurdle said on Saturday. Hurdle had mentioned on Friday that he also wants to get Matt Diaz involved this series, so I’d expect to see him in Sunday’s lineup as well. Other than trying to get some of these bench guys involved early in the season, Hurdle intends to fiddle little with his lineup.
- Has anyone forgotten that the Pirates went 17-64 on the road last year? That makes Friday’s road win that much more significant.
- Interesting note on Paul Maholm, who makes the start on Saturday — he has made more starts (153) than any left-hander in the National League since the start of 2006. Look for Maholm to pitch inside today more than you might have seen him do so last year. It’s something the lefty focused on all spring.
- Right-hander Ross Ohlendorf will start the season finale on Sunday and he said he believes some tweaks he has made recently with pitching coach Ray Searage are going to help him get off to a strong start. Those adjustments involve getting a better line to home plate during his delivery (in other words, not letting his body get too rotational during his motion).
PIRATES: J. Tabata (LF), N. Walker (2B), A. McCutchen (CF), L. Overbay (1B), P. Alvarez (3B), R. Doumit (C), G. Jones (RF), R. Cedeno (SS), P. Maholm (LHP)
CUBS: J. Baker (2B), S. Castro (SS), M. Byrd (CF), A. Ramirez (3B), G. Soto (C), C. Pena (1B), A. Soriano (LF), T. Colvin (RF), C. Zambrano (RHP)
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