Results tagged ‘ D.J. Carrasco ’

Some thoughts from GM Neal Huntington

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Here are some excerpts from general manager Neal Huntington’s Sunday radio show…

On if there is concern about the bullpen struggling the rest of the year: “We are a little bit concerned that we’re going to through some young, inexperienced pitchers into situations they’re not ready to handle. We may explore some options outside the organization to bring in a guy or two who has some experience back there. Or we might just go with the guys that we have to see if they can show us if they can be a part of this team this year and beyond.”

“We moved some older pieces that we think and believe we can replace whether it’s short-term or certainly in the long-term.

“We need our starters to get us deeper into the games. We’re going to need to somehow take those high leverage outs in the sixth and seventh inning and turn those into quality performances from our bullpen.”

On who will assume closer’s role: “JR really believes – and I agree with him – that we have two guys that are very capable of doing it. We’ve got two guys we are excited about that we feel capable can close out our wins in the ninth inning. We’re not going to lock into one guy for the rest of the year.

“For the rest of this year, it’s probably both guys getting the opportunity. We don’t want one guy to blow a save or have a rough outing and think that he’s destined to be a set-up guy for the rest of his career. We’re definitely in the process of trying to choose our closer. At this point in time, we want to give both an opportunity to show that they can be the closer moving forward.”

On whether any of the trades were financially driven: “As a matter of fact, we took on payroll this year. We actually sent a little bit of money to the Dodgers. We’re going to take on payroll this year. So the cash saving is really a moot point.”

On whether the club ever considered using D.J. Carrasco as a starter: “We did. He’s a gamer. He brings multiple arm slots. He competes. We talked about it internally, and I think if we got into a situation where we didn’t have another option internally that we like long-term then we would have gone to D.J. As we looked as this year’s club, as we looked at next year’s club, were we going to meet D.J.’s request to start? We didn’t think so.”

On the addition of Chris Snyder and the effect that has on Ryan Doumit’s future: “Was there something we could do to improve our pitching through helping our catching situation? Ryan is good when he plays four, five days a week out of the six games or the seven games. Ryan gets worn down. When Ryan is sharp, he does a nice job for us.

“Ryan and Chris will now share the time behind home plate, with Chris getting the majority of it.”

On if the defense could suffer with Doumit in outfield or at first: “We’ll see. Quite candidly, we haven’t really seen Ryan Doumit in right field. Much like it was when he was catching, if he can be adequate and swing the bat for us, then he can certainly fill a role in the lineup. Time will tell. The indications are from those who have seen him play outfield in the past are that he can be adequate.”

Some other odds and ends:

  • RHP James McDonald will join the club on Monday, after which the Pirates will determine his immediate role. Huntington said the plans is to work him into the rotation, though it remains to be seen if that happens this week
  • McDonald’s plan will affect Daniel McCutchen, who would be sent down to open up
  • Huntington reaffirmed the plan to keep three catchers on the roster once Doumit comes off the disabled list.
  • Doumit will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Indianapolis on Monday. He will get work both in right field and behind the plate.

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Pirates, D-backs announce five-player deal

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

With the Pirates’ Deadline deal now official.. here is the full story in advance of it going on pirates.com shortly:

The Pirates have acquired catcher Chris Snyder and Minor League shortstop Pedro Ciriaco from the D-backs in exchange for three of the team’s veterans – Ryan Church, Bobby Crosby and D.J. Carrasco.

The deal was officially announced by Pittsburgh just three hours before Saturday’s 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline. The Pirates also received $3 million from the D-backs, according to a baseball source, to help compensate for part of Snyder’s salary.

Snyder won’t be the only player joining the Pirates in St. Louis before Saturday’s game. The club has also recalled shortstop Argenis Diaz and first baseman Jeff Clement. The pair will take the roster spots left vacant by Church and Crosby. Diaz can serve as a backup middle infielder, and Clement provides some insurance at first in case the Pirates need to plug Garrett Jones into an outfield spot.

The acquisition of Snyder gives the Pirates another option behind the plate, where Ryan Doumit – currently on the 15-day disabled list with a concussion – has been the everyday starter since 2008. Snyder has filled mostly a backup role for Arizona this season behind Miguel Montero, who took over the starting job when Snyder missed time in ’09 with a back injury.

In 65 games this year, Snyder is hitting .231 with 10 homers and 32 RBIs. He is a career .233 hitter in parts of seven seasons with Arizona. Snyder has never played anywhere else, having been drafted by the organization in the second round of the 2002 First-Round Player Draft.

“Chris Snyder is a solid Major League player who will provide us with a quality catching option for this year and next year,” general manager Neal Huntington said.  “He brings leadership to the club, along with a game calling and receiving ability that will help our pitching staff mature. Additionally he will add some home run power to our lineup.”

One of the biggest questions with the acquisition is how Snyder’s arrival might affect Doumit’s future in Pittsburgh.

Snyder is under contract for $5.75 million next year with a club option for 2012 worth $6.75 million. There is a $750,000 buyout attached to that option. That means that if the Pirates hold on to both Snyder and Doumit next year, Pittsburgh would be paying $10.85 million to its catching tandem in 2011.

There are some other options, though. The Pirates could deal either catcher before next season, or there is the possibility that Pittsburgh could consider using Doumit at another position. He has played some outfield and first base in the Majors.

In Ciriaco, the Pirates receive a 25-year-old shortstop who was hitting .259 with 28 extra-base hits and 51 RBIs in 87 games with the D-backs’ Triple-A affiliate. Ciriaco, has stolen 14 bases this year after swiping a combined 78 in his last two seasons.

Ciriaco’s skill set is fairly comparable to that of the team’s current starting shortstop, Ronny Cedeno. This is the first full Triple-A season for the Dominican Republic native, who is known primarily for his defense and speed.

The fact that Pittsburgh targeted a shortstop makes perfect sense given the organization’s lack of middle infield talent at the high Minor League levels.

The Pirates did not lose any critical pieces in the deal, as none of the three players acquired by Arizona was expected to be a long-term fit in Pittsburgh. All three had been signed as free agents during the winter

Both Crosby and Church had a chance to earn more playing time either this season, but neither seized the opportunity. Church hit just .182 with 18 RBIs in 69 games, while Crosby batted .224 in 61 games.

Church was under contract for $1.5 million this season and has one more year of arbitration eligibility remaining. Crosby, who was earning $1 million, was to be a free agent again at the end of the season.

Carrasco, who was hopeful of being dealt to a contending team, has been a key piece in the Pirates’ bullpen. Used often as a long reliever, the righty accumulated 55 2/3 innings and posted a 3.88 ERA. He is under contract for $950,000 this season – with another $300,000 possible in incentives – and the D-backs can now retain his rights through 2012.

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Throwing out runners 101

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

You can read all about John Russell’s thoughts on the team’s issues throwing out base runners in this story I wrote earlier, but I wanted to expand on a few additional items here

A few points of emphasis before we get into some stats:

  • The fact that the Pirates have thrown out just 12.8 percent of runners trying to steal (this doesn’t count stolen bases with no throws, double steals or caught stealing by pitchers) is a problem that lies with both the pitchers and catchers. Ryan Doumit has had his share of issues, but for the large part, the pitchers aren’t helping him out.
  • When it comes to Doumit, Russell pointed out two things he needs to improve upon. His footwork needs to be quicker/shorter and his throwing motion needs to be shortened.
  • On the pitching end, Russell said he likes what he’s seen from Jeff Karstens and Brad Lincoln both in terms of how they vary their deliveries and how long they hold the ball. He noted that Zach Duke and Paul Maholm struggle in that area, and that when they lift their leg on the delivery it gives runners even more time to take off.
  • The other thing worth noting again is that the Pirates have a program in place from the lowest Minor League level on up to teach pitchers how to better hold runners on. So the expectation is that these pitchers should be better prepared with differing deliveries and timing by the time they get here.

Anyways, this issue has become such a widespread problem this year that it has garnered a ton of scrutiny. But I was interested to see how all these pitchers had done in these same areas in recent years. Have the individual numbers really gotten that much worse? Here are the specifics, which will allow you to see which pitchers are getting taken advantage of the most and which have taken steps back:

Ross Ohlendorf

  • 2010: 13 SB, 1 CS (93% success rate for runner)
  • 2009: 12 SB, 8 CS (60%)

Zach Duke

  • 2010: 6 SB, 1 CS (86%)
  • 2009: 7 SB, 8 CS (47%)
  • 2008: 6 SB, 6 CS (50%)
  • 2007: 5 SB, 5 CS (50%)
  • 2006: 13 SB, 12 CS (52%)

Paul Maholm

  • 2010: 4 SB, 1 CS (80%)
  • 2009: 15 SB, 6 CS (71%)
  • 2008: 5 SB, 7 CS (42%)
  • 2007: 11 SB, 6 CS (65%)
  • 2006: 13 SB, 11 CS (54%)

Jeff Karstens

  • 2010: 3 SB, 3 CS (50%)
  • 2009: 9 SB, 2 CS (82%)

Brad Lincoln

  • 2010: 2 SB, 1 CS (66%)

Octavio Dotel

  • 2010: 4 SB, 1 CS (80%)
  • 2009: 14 SB, 5 CS (74%)
  • 2008: 16 SB, 1 CS (94%)
  • 2007: 2 SB, 0 CS (100%)
  • 2006: 1 SB, 0 CS (100%)

Evan Meek

  • 2010: 9 SB, 0 CS (100%)
  • 2009: 4 SB, 2 CS (66%)

Joel Hanrahan

  • 2010: 5 SB, 1 CS (83%)
  • 2009: 6 SB, 3 CS (66%)
  • 2008: 11 SB, 0 CS (100%)
  • 2007: 4 SB, 2 CS (66%)

Sean Gallagher

  • 2010: 1 SB, 1 CS (50%)
  • 2009: 2 SB, 1 CS (66%)
  • 2008: 5 SB, 4 CS (56%)
  • 2007: 4 SB, 4 CS (50%)

Brendan Donnelly

  • 2010: 6 SB, 0 CS (100%)
  • 2009: 2 SB, 0 CS (100%)
  • 2008: 1 SB, 1 CS (50%)
  • 2007: 2 SB, 0 CS (100%)
  • 2006: 1 SB, 0 CS (100%)

D.J. Carrasco

  • 2010: 7 SB, 3 CS (70%)
  • 2009: 1 SB, 3 CS (25%)
  • 2008: 3 SB, 2 CS (60%)

Javier Lopez

  • 2010: 1 SB, 1 CS (50%)
  • 2009: 1 SB, 0 CS (100%)
  • 2008: 1 SB, 3 CS (25%)
  • 2007: 0 SB, 1 CS (0%)
  • 2006: 2 SB, 0 CS (100%)

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June 1: Cubs (24-28) @ Pirates (21-31)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Had plenty to take care of for the main site this afternoon, so apologies for the late pre-game news and notes. But here is what you need to get caught up on…

  • The Pirates traded for left-hander Dana Eveland today, sending Minor League right-hander Ronald Uviedo to the Blue Jays. Eveland is expected to go into the Pirates’ rotation, though that might not be immediate. He is throwing a bullpen session at home (California) on Tuesday and again on Thursday. He’ll report to Pittsburgh on Friday. The Pirates’ concern? Eveland hasn’t pitched in a game since May 22, which means that plugging him right into the rotation might be a bit too much to ask.
  • Instead, the likeliest route is that Eveland will pitch a few games out of the bullpen and then go into the rotation next week. The Pirates were understandable vague (given that they don’t know how the layoff has affected Eveland), so we should know more on Friday.
  • Speaking of Friday, scratch Brian Burres as the probable starter. With Thursday’s off day, Burres is going to be skipped, and Paul Maholm will take the mound on normal four days of rest. This could very well mean that Burres will be squeezed off the roster entirely when Eveland joins the team on Friday. Uviedo cleared a space on the 40-man roster for Eveland, but a spot on the 25-man will still have to be opened.
  • Manager John Russell said that Jeff Karstens is not going to be one-and-done after his start on Tuesday. Russell threw out June 12 as another date that Karstens is scheduled to pitch, though depending on how the Eveland transition works out, he might make another before that.
  • You might be wondering how Eveland’s arrival affects both Charlie Morton and Brad Lincoln? Well, Morton is still resting his shoulder and there is no timetable with him right now. This is me speaking, but I don’t expect to see the right-hander here any time soon. With how badly these first two months have gone, a mental break and a number of starts in a less-pressured environment would likely serve him well.
  • As for Lincoln, I’m just not getting the impression that his call-up from Triple-A is imminent. It sure seems like the Pirates have the rotation planned out through June 12, which would mean that Lincoln likely has at least 2-3 more Triple-A starts in his future. Maybe things will be re-evaluated after that. Lincoln pitched five scoreless innings in his last start and had pitched at least seven innings in his three starts before that.
  • Lefty Jack Taschner has returned from his Minor League rehab assignment and could be off the DL as early as Wednesday. Taschner pitched two innings with Double-A Altoona and reported his left hamstring to be just fine. Steven Jackson seems the most likely candidate to be sent down when Taschner returns.
  • After sitting out with a sore hamstring, D.J. Carrasco has been cleared to pitch again on Tuesday if needed.
  • Two Pirates Minor League players earned Pitcher/Player-of-the-Week honors for their performances last week. Tim Alderson (Double-A) went 2-0 with 10 strikeouts and one earned run allowed in 13 innings (two starts). Outfielder Calvin Anderson (high-A) went 14-for-27 with three extra-base hits and eight RBIs in seven games.
  • Closer Octavio Dotel finished May a perfect 8-for-8 in save opportunities. That tied him for second among all National League closers. It also was a refreshing change from the struggles he endured during the first month of the season.
  • Righty Chris Jakubauskas threw another side session on Tuesday, this one 38 pitches. He’ll throw again on Friday, possibly down in Bradenton.

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04/08: Dodgers (0-2) @ Pirates (2-0)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The Pirates are on pace to win 162. Garrett Jones is on pace to hit 243 home runs. D.J. Carrasco, Evan Meek, Brendan Donnelly and Octavio Dotel are on pace to appear in every game this season.

OK, I only say this tongue-in-cheek to remind you that we are only two days in. And obviously it’s hard to make any definitive conclusions after two games. I don’t say this to sap the excitement that two thrilling wins have provided the fan base. I say it just to make sure we all stay in reality.

As for what I do think we can conclude… here are three things:

1. This team has some resolve and fight in them. Now, we’ll see if that maintains through the downs that are inevitable. But for now, you have to like the way the team fights.

2. This bullpen has the potential to be pretty good. Dotel is not going to get out of a jam like he did Wednesday every night. No one does. But the mix of looks and the mix of experience in that ‘pen sure does seem better than what the Pirates have had in recent years.

3. These players are confident that they can compete with anyone. Call it being naive if you’d like, but they don’t feel outmatched. Certainly, that’s part of the battle.

OK, as for your pregame notes…

  • Forecast still doesn’t look exceptionally good for this afternoon. The rain has stalled a bit but is still on its way. A rain delay isn’t what the Pirates need for many reasons, one of which is that their bullpen has already been worked pretty hard these last few days. The Pirates’ freshest arm is Hayden Penn, and his ability to go multiple innings could be critical if the Pirates do endure a rain delay.
  • Manager John Russell did say all relievers are available today if needed, though, for at least a little work.
  • Bobby Crosby, Delwyn Young and Ryan Church get their first starts of the season with the day game coming after a long night game. They are replacing Lastings Milledge, Jeff Clement and Ronny Cedeno. It’s hard to see much of a drop off there, which is a plus.
  • Charlie Morton is preparing for his start in Arizona on Friday and since I didn’t mention it earlier this week, he did throw most recently on Sunday. Morton stayed behind in Bradenton to throw 60 pitches (four innings) in a Double-A intrasquad game on Sunday to give him one more tuneup before the regular season start.
  • Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic (aka Mike and Mike) will be throwing out today’s ceremonial first pitch.
  • The Pirates are 2-0 for the first time since 2007. That Pittsburgh club swept a three-game set with the Astros to start the season.
  • Though the Pirates are just 10-24 against the Dodgers at PNC Park, Pittsburgh has won five of the last six meetings here. That includes taking three of four against LA late last September.
  • Two Minor League notes of interest (repeats from yesterday): Joel Hanrahan begins his Minor League rehab assignment with high-A Bradenton today. Kevin Hart will make the Opening Day start for Triple-A Indy tonight.

Pirates lineup:

  1. Aki Iwamura (2B)
  2. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  3. Garrett Jones (1B)
  4. Ryan Doumit (C)
  5. Ryan Church (LF)
  6. Delwyn Young (RF)
  7. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  8. Paul Maholm (LHP)
  9. Bobby Crosby (SS)

Dodgers lineup:

  1. Rafael Furcal (SS)
  2. Reed Johnson (LF)
  3. Matt Kemp (CF)
  4. James Loney (1B)
  5. Ronnie Belliard (3B)
  6. Garret Anderson (RF)
  7. Jamey Carroll (2B)
  8. Brad Ausmus (C)
  9. Chad Billingsley (RHP)

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04/05: Dodgers @ Pirates

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Interestingly enough, the Pirates and LA Dodgers have never met in a season opener. Now, the Brooklyn Dodgers did beat the Pirates twice on Opening Day (1953 and 1955), so there is some history there.

But before the 2010 season kicks off with a pitch from Zach Duke, let’s hit some pregame notes…

  • The Pirates’ batting order is as expected. Duke is hitting eighth and Andrew McCutchen is batting behind leadoff hitter Aki Iwamura. And though the Pirates never officially announced it, Jeff Clement is your first baseman du jour. He’s going to have to keep improving defensively, though, to keep that spot.
  • Six Pirates are on an Opening Day roster for the first time: McCutchen, Garrett Jones, Clement, John Raynor, Daniel McCutchen, Charlie Morton.
  • Octavio Dotel’s nine appearances on an Opening Day roster represents the club high.
  • Manager John Russell reported continued progress with right-hander Joel Hanrahan (right elbow injury). Hanrahan is eligible to come off the DL as early as April 10, but Russell said that Hanrahan’s pitching schedule has him lined up to come off on April 12. The Pirates haven’t publically said this, but you can expect Daniel McCutchen (who is pitching on April 11) to be sent down when Hanrahan comes off. Those dates sure do conveniently match up, huh?
  • By sending McCutchen down, the Pirates can keep him starting regularly. You’ll remember that his next two turns in the rotation were going to be skipped anyways. The Pirates can then use an eight-member bullpen for two weeks until another starter (could very well be Kevin Hart) is needed. This would also give the Pirates a total of three weeks to evaluate Hayden Penn.
  • For now, the Pirates plan on keeping Penn and D.J. Carrasco stretched out. Both would be long relief options if a starter is knocked out early.
  • There are no limitations with Dotel, who ended up pitching five innings in Grapefruit League play this spring after being slowed early by an oblique injury.
  • For anyone coming to the park today, gates open at 11:30 and on-field festivities will begin a bit before 1 pm. That includes a presentation to Andrew McCutchen, who was named Baseball America’s Rookie of the Year in 2009. Team introductions will begin shortly after 1.
  • The USA Today came out with its annual listing of Opening Day payrolls and has the Pirates sitting at $34.9 million. That is a 28 percent decrease from last year and the lowest payroll in the league. The season-ending payroll is obviously the bigger deal, but I know many of you were curious as to the current figure.
  • The Pirates have won three straight season openers. A fourth would give the club its longest string of season-opening wins since the Pirates won six straight from 1935-40.
  • This is the first time the Pirates have opened up at home since 2005. Overall, it’s just the 28th time the team has opened at home. In comparison, the Pirates have played 96 season openers on the road.

Pirates lineup:

  1. Aki Iwamura (2B)
  2. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  3. Garrett Jones (RF)
  4. Ryan Doumit (C)
  5. Lastings Milledge (LF)
  6. Jeff Clement (1B)
  7. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  8. Zach Duke (LHP)
  9. Ronny Cedeno (SS)

Dodgers lineup:

  1. Rafael Furcal (SS)
  2. Russell Martin (C)
  3. Andre Ethier (RF)
  4. Manny Ramirez (LF)
  5. Matt Kemp (CF)
  6. James Loney (1B)
  7. Casey Blake (3B)
  8. Blake DeWitt (2B)
  9. Vicente Padilla (RHP)

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Pirates – Phillies cancelled due to rain

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

I obviously picked the wrong game of the two to go to on Sunday as this Pirates-Phillies tilt never started and never will. It started raining minutes before the 1:05 pm start time and with rain in the forecast for the rest of the day, the game was called an hour later.

This really doesn’t mess up too much for the Pirates in terms of pitching. I’m sure D.J. Carrasco will be bummed that he didn’t get a start. But since Ross Ohlendorf is able to pitch in Port Charlotte, the Pirates’ starters are all still on schedule.

Ryan Church will have to wait an extra day to make his return to the lineup. He was expected to play for the first time since last Saturday, which is when he fractured the tip of his left middle finger.

Nothing else much to report here. I’ll file a blog with information from the Port Charlotte contest later in the day once that wraps up.

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Day 37: Pirates (ss) @ Phillies; Pirates (ss) @ Rays

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

It’s two for the price of one today, though I have yet to figure out how to be in both Port Charlotte and Clearwater at the same time to take both in. I joined half of the Pirates’ team in Clearwater for today’s contest against the Phillies. The other half is taking on the Rays about two hours south of here.

The four Pittsburgh writers covering Spring Training are split-squading it, too, so we’ll share information throughout the afternoon so I can update you on the game I can’t see.

In the meantime….

  • Ryan Church (fractured left finger tip) is making his return to the lineup here against the Phillies. Church hasn’t played since last Saturday, but he is not expected to be hindered at all this final week. Last I heard, the Pirates were going to have him play in a couple Minor League games this week so he could get extra at-bats.
  • Vinnie Chulk (bicep soreness) is also back. He’ll pitch an inning against the Rays after not having made a Grapefruit League appearance since March 19. You’d have to think the layoff hurts his chances of breaking camp with the club. Too, Chulk has allowed five runs in his last three appearances (3 1/3 innings).
  • Octavio Dotel will make his second Grapefruit League appearance of the spring in Port Charlotte. He’s thrown in three Minor League games, and I heard he looked very good in his outing on Friday. It would be nice if he showed a bit more control today than he did in his appearance Wednesday.
  • Sunday’s start against the Phillies will be D.J. Carrasco’s first start of the spring. The right-hander has made it no secret that he would love to get an opportunity to start again, though the Pirates don’t have that long-term need right now. With the way the bullpen is looking, Carrasco is the likely long-relief option.

Pirates lineup @ Phillies:

  1. Aki Iwamura (2B)
  2. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  3. Lastings Milledge (LF)
  4. Ryan Church (RF)
  5. Steve Pearce (1B)
  6. Ronny Cedeno (SS)
  7. Erik Kratz (C)
  8. John Raynor (CF)
  9. D.J. Carrasco (RHP)

Pitchers: Carrasco (3 innings, 50 pitches), Brian Bass, Anthony Claggett, Steven Jackson, Javier Lopez, Evan Meek, Jeremy Powell, Jack Taschner

Phillies lineup:

  1. Jimmy Rollins (SS)
  2. Placido Polanco (3B)
  3. Chase Utley (2B)
  4. Ryan Howard (1B)
  5. Jayson Werth (RF)
  6. Shane Victorino (CF)
  7. Ben Francisco (LF)
  8. Carlos Ruiz (C)
  9. Joe Blanton (RHP)

Pitchers: Blanton, David Herndon, Antonio Bastardo, Ryan Madson

***

Pirates lineup @ Rays:

  1. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  2. Delwyn Young (2B)
  3. Garrett Jones (RF)
  4. Ryan Doumit (C)
  5. Bobby Crosby (SS)
  6. Jeff Clement (1B)
  7. Brandon Moss (LF)
  8. Ramon Vazquez (3B)
  9. Ross Ohlendorf (RHP)

Pitchers: Ohlendorf, Dotel, Brendan Donnelly, Chulk, Karstens

Rays lineup:

  1. Jason Bartlett (SS)
  2. Carl Crawford (LF)
  3. Ben Zobrist (2B)
  4. Carlos Pena (1B)
  5. Pat Burrell (DH)
  6. Hank Blalock (3B)
  7. Gabe Kaplar (RF)
  8. Sean Rodriguez (CF)
  9. Alvin Colina (C)

Pitchers: Matt Garza

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Day 36: Blue Jays @ Pirates

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

It’s the last weekend in Florida for all of us, and this is the time of spring that everyone is getting antsy. More than anything, everyone is ready to go home, see families and stop living in a rented condo or hotel room. But for a lot of players, this week is also judgement week.

There’s always a bit of tension as the final week of Spring Training approaches. Players on the bubble of making the 25-man roster know that their fate will be sealed within the next few days. Some will make their first Opening Day roster. Others will find themselves headed to Indianapolis to begin the Triple-A season. Whether it’s asking media members what they know or asking teammates what they think, a good number of players are trying to get a gauge on their own personal situation.

And one thing is certain — the last week of spring is always filled with emotions.

Your news and notes…

  • No roster decisions were made on Saturday, so we’ve still got 37 players officially in Major League camp. As I mentioned yesterday, I’d expect it to stay that way until Monday.
  • First baseman Jeff Clement will be the focus of one of my stories on pirates.com later, but I thought it was worth mentioning that while everyone is inside the clubhouse waking up right now, he and Steve Pearce are on the field taking extra grounders at first. Regardless of your opinion on Clement’s ability to play first, the kid has worked extremely hard.
  • Joel Hanrahan is pitching one inning in a Minor League game today (pitch count: 20). I’ll try to get the results of that later and pass that along to you.
  • Ryan Church (fractured left finger tip) is scheduled to take batting practice again today and will make his return to the lineup on Sunday against the Phillies.
  • Vinnie Chulk (bicep soreness) will also make his return on Sunday. He’s scheduled to pitch against the Rays. Also scheduled for that game are: Ross Ohlendorf (90 pitches), Octavio Dotel, Brendan Donnelly and Jeff Karstens.
  • Available to pitch in the split-squad game against the Phillies on Sunday, you have: D.J. Carrasco (3 innings, 50 pitches), Brian Bass, Anthony Claggett, Steven Jackson, Javier Lopez, Evan Meek, Jeremy Powell and Jack Taschner.
  • A good number of relievers are making their first back-to-back outings of the spring over the next few days. This is always something that happens toward the end of spring.
  • The Pirates will hold their annual PirateFest this morning outside McKechnie Field before the 1:05 pm game. The street will be closed for carnival-type games and player autograph sessions.

Pirates lineup:

  1. Aki Iwamura (2B)
  2. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  3. Garrett Jones (RF)
  4. Ryan Doumit (C)
  5. Lastings Milledge (LF)
  6. Jeff Clement (1B)
  7. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  8. Daniel McCutchen (RHP)
  9. Ronny Cedeno (SS)

Pitchers: Daniel McCutchen (5, 6 innings/85 pitches), Meek, Donnelly, Karstens, Claggett, Jackson

Blue Jays lineup:

  1. Jose Bautista (3B)
  2. Aaron Hill (2B)
  3. Jeremy Reed (RF)
  4. Kyle Phillips (1B)
  5. Edwin Encarnacion (DH)
  6. Chris Lubanski (LF)
  7. Alex Gonzalez (SS)
  8. Jose Molina (C)
  9. Joey Gathright (CF)

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Day 35: Pirates @ Astros

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

We’re going to get away from Spring Training just briefly and revisit a project I did over the offseason. MLB.com took on the task of selecting an All-Decade Team for each of the 30 clubs, and we did that by enlisting the opinions of some people that had been around the team for all 10 years. This was especially helpful to me considering I didn’t jump on the beat until 2007. I served as a moderator for the panel, but did not have a vote in the decisions.

Anyways, you can see the results of our panel discussion here. As you’ll read, some of the selections were obvious and unanimous. Others, well, were not.

What stood out to me more than anything else, though, was the lack of good starting pitching from start to finish last decade. It was almost as we had to select the best of the worst at some points. There was hardly a dominant pitcher and rarely even a dominant season. If you want to know why this team did not approach .500 last decade, I think it sits with the starters. It’s just another reminder that pitching wins. And it underscores how important the Pirates’ staff is going to be this season.

Feel free to discuss the All-Decade team if you’d like. I’m sure opinions will differ on a handful of spots. If nothing else, it’s always good to reminisce.

Back in the Spring Training realm…

  • Most of the team veterans got the day off on Friday because of the long trip to Kissimmee. The drive here is a bit over two hours and is the longest of the spring. The biggest veteran exception is Ramon Vazquez, who is starting at third today. But the Pirates are also trying to showcase him for potential trade suitors, so the fact that he’s playing shouldn’t be a surprise.
  • Closer Octavio Dotel is back at Pirate City today throwing one inning in a Minor League game. If we are able to get a report on how that goes, I’ll be sure to pass it along.
  • Joel Hanrahan pitches in a Minor League contest on Saturday.
  • Last night, the Pirates announced they had reached a long-term deal with FSN Pittsburgh that guarantees a minimum of 150 games will be televised every year. Today, the Pirates announced that the number will be 156 for 2010.
  • Just me speaking here, but I don’t imagine there will be any cuts until Monday. Though there are still 37 players in Major League camp (35 if you don’t count Hanrahan and Jose Ascanio, both of whom will start on the DL),  the Pirates need as many bodies as they can get on Sunday because of two split-squad games.
  • Speaking of Sunday, it looks like Ross Ohlendorf will start against the Rays in Port Charlotte and D.J. Carrasco will get the starting assignment against the Phillies in Clearwater. Dotel will also pitch somewhere that day, though it’s unsure where right now.
  • As for Saturday, Daniel McCutchen will be making his first start of the spring. It’s about time considering he is going to be the team’s fifth starter to begin the season. He’s scheduled to be followed by Brendan Donnelly, Evan Meek, Steven Jackson and Jeff Karstens.

Pirates lineup:

  1. John Raynor (CF)
  2. Delwyn Young (2B)
  3. Lastings Milledge (LF)
  4. Garrett Jones (RF)
  5. Jeff Clement (1B)
  6. Bobby Crosby (SS)
  7. Ramon Vazquez (3B)
  8. Jason Jaramillo (C)
  9. Zach Duke (LHP)

Pitchers: Duke, Anthony Claggett, Jack Taschner, Javier Lopez

Astros lineup:

  1. T.J. Steele (CF)
  2. Jeff Keppinger (2B)
  3. Jason Michaels (RF)
  4. Carlos Lee (LF)
  5. Geoff Blum (1B)
  6. Pedro Feliz (3B)
  7. Edwin Maysonet (SS)
  8. Humberto Quintero (C)
  9. Roy Oswalt (RHP)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

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