Results tagged ‘ Daniel Moskos ’

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

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

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

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

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

As for news and notes of the day…

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

Lineups:

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

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

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Game 27: Pirates (12-14) @ Rockies (16-8)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

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.

Lineups:

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)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Moskos gets call up; Meek to DL

Nearly four years after being a surprise first-round Draft pick by the Pirates, Daniel Moskos is making his first trip to the Major Leagues.

The Pirates recalled Moskos from Triple-A on Saturday as Evan Meek was placed on the disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis. The placement is retroactive to April 27, meaning that Meek will be eligible to come off on May 12.

Moskos was sent out of big-league camp this spring to start the year in Triple-A Indianapolis, where he appeared in eight games. In 10 2/3 innings, Moskos allowed nine hits and two runs. He walked one and struck out seven.

The results – and particularly Moskos’ command – were much improved from the left-hander’s stint in Indianapolis last season. That 2010 stay lasted 19 games before Moskos was sent back to Double-A Altoona, where he thrived.

“Daniel’s key is just to command,” general manager Neal Huntington said earlier in the week. “When he works ahead in the count, the slider and even the changeup can be a weapon for him. When he works behind in the count, now he’s got to come in with his fastball. While it’s a good [fastball], it’s not overpowering. When he commands the baseball, he’s going to be a very good Major League pitcher.”

The addition of Moskos, who was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, will give manager Clint Hurdle two left-handed relievers for the first time this season. Without Meek, Chris Resop, Jose Veras and Joe Beimel are expected to split eighth-inning set-up duties.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Orioles 8, Pirates 2

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Centerfielder Andrew McCutchen really can do it all.

After losing his glove over the outfield wall trying to make a jumping catch to save a homer, McCutchen took matters into his own hands… or feet. The outfielder scaled the wall, retrieved his glove and jumped back over the wall to get ready for the next play.

“He’s got six tools,” manager Clint Hurdle joked. “We saw the sixth tool today.”

***

While we’re on the subject of McCutchen, it’s also worth noting that he stole his second base of the spring on Monday. He went to second despite there being a runner at third, no outs and Pedro Alvarez (hitting fourth) at the plate. I had been wondering if McCutchen’s speed would be harnessed if he hit third, but Hurdle emphatically said that will not be the case.

It doesn’t matter who is hitting behind McCutchen, the outfielder will be mostly free (and encouraged) to run.

“You have to remember who we are,” Hurdle said. “Our four hitter right now, we want to get runners in scoring position for him. If Pedro is hot and rolling during the season, we might not take as many chances. But we’ve got usable speed and if we can go get a base, we’re planning on going and getting a base.

“We’ve got to take some chances. Pedro is a power hitter in growth. It’s not like we’re running with [Albert] Pujols up at the plate. It’s a whole different complex, a whole different dynamic. We want to keep this mindset of going, of being aggressive, especially with Andrew. I do think that’s a part of his game that he can continue to open up more and we don’t want to take that away at all if he ends up in the three spot.”

Keep in mind, too, that if McCutchen is a threat to run with Alvarez at the plate, it is likely to increase the number of fastballs Alvarez sees. That is a really good thing for the Pirates.

***

Kevin Correia became the first Pirates starter to throw five innings in a start this spring, and the right-hander was pretty efficient (less than 70 pitches) in doing so. He breezed through three innings before running into some trouble in the fourth — trouble, Correia said, that was brought about mostly because he found himself rushing his delivery to try to keep runners from stealing.

“I know that’s something that I tend to do when guys get on base so I need to work on it before the season starts,” Correia said. “I was quick to the plate and just didn’t get the ball to that [inside] side of the plate. That was the one thing today that I don’t think I did very well. But everything else I felt pretty good on.”

Correia had a particularly good curveball, though he seemed most pleased by how he threw his changeup, since that is a pitch that has not come along as quickly this spring. The slider was so-so, but Correia expects it to come around soon.

In all, the Orioles tallied seven hits and four earned runs against Correia. He didn’t walk a batter after issuing three in his previous start.

***

Back at Pirate City, right-hander Charlie Morton threw four innings (63 pitches) in a Minor League game. He gave up three runs — all on a home run — in an outing that I heard was otherwise sharp. Morton needed to get the work in after not having pitched since last Wednesday.

I got a report from that game that things did not go so smoothly for Tim Alderson. You’ll remember that he is the pitcher the Pirates got straight up for Freddy Sanchez. Alderson has lost velocity and confidence and it’s looking highly unlikely that he’ll ever live up to the prospect status he once enjoyed.

***

Infielder Pedro Ciriaco continues to impress and, in my opinion, distance himself from the other middle infield competition. He made a terrific relay throw to get a runner trying to go to third, and he continues to hit. With two more hits on Monday, Ciriaco is now 10-for-27 this spring.

“He’s got a gun,” Hurdle said. “The arm strength is there. It’s a big arm. And it took a big arm to make that play. That’s one thing we’ve seen from Pedro.”

Ciriaco has already gotten work at second, third and short in Grapefruit League games. Now, the Pirates have him doing a little work in center field in the mornings to get comfortable there. Before the end of Spring Training, look for Ciriaco to play some outfield in an actual game.

***

Steve Pearce and Jason Jaramillo joined Ciriaco and McCutchen with multi-hit games on Monday. For Pearce, the pair of hits comes just after he eliminated his leg kick in order to have have a more compact swing.

Jaramillo has quietly had one of the best offensive springs in camp. Now 8-for-15, the catcher is hoping to hush concerns about the lack of offensive punch he showed last year.

***

Another reminder that if you want to join the Bucs Bits Bloggers NCAA tourney challenge, the group is open and taking competitors now. You can sign up here and type in Bucs Bits Bloggers to find/join our group.

On the main site today, you will find Daniel Moskos’ reaction (and the team’s explanation) to the decision that he will begin the year in Triple-A, rather than the Pirates’ bullpen. That story is here. There will also be items about Scott Olsen and Joe Beimel making their debuts; James McDonald missing his next start; Alex Presley bummed by being sent out of camp; and what positions some of these Triple-A players are going to fill.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Pirates cut 10 from camp

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

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

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

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

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

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Rays 4, Pirates 2

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Tampa Bay now has two spring wins and both have come at the expense of Pittsburgh. Of course, the Pirates also have their own two wins over the Rays. The best-of-seven spring series continues in Port Charlotte on Friday.

***

One thing that could turn out to be different this year is how long the club waits to announce its final bench spots. That’s because so much hinges on what the team decides to do with Ryan Doumit. And I’m not just talking about whether or not the Pirates deal him elsewhere.

The Pirates still have not decided whether they want to carry two or three catchers into the season. If the club takes three, Jason Jaramillo or Dusty Brown will head north. If not, it doesn’t matter what either one of them do — they will be headed to Triple-A Indianapolis together. How Brown and Jaramillo are handling the unknown was the focus of my main story on pirates.com today, and you can get to that here.

***

Ross Ohlendorf left balls up in the second of his three innings on Monday and that was to blame for the one shaky inning he endured. After needing only five pitches (all fastballs) to retire the side in the first, Ohlendorf allowed three straight hits and a walk to begin the second.

He got some help getting out of the jam when Manny Ramirez’s foot hit one of the singles. Catcher Chris Snyder also threw out B.J. Upton as Upton tried to swipe third. As a result, Ohlendorf limited the damage to just one run.

Ohlendorf bounced back to pitch a clean third and said afterward that he felt like the start was another step in the right direction.

“I probably felt a little stronger in the first one just because I had a little more adrenaline,” Ohlendorf said. “But I still felt good about today.”

Ohlendorf mixed in a lot more changeups and a few sliders in the outing. Now it’s a matter of sharpening the command of all his pitches.

***

The Rays were off and running against the Pirates. But in their four attempts to steal bases, they were only successful twice. Snyder threw out two of three runners taking off against him.

The Pirates’ struggles throwing out runners last year has been incessantly noted. But it was a serious issue, and it is one that is being addressed this year. Ohlendorf, in particular, knows he needs to do a better job varying his rhythm and getting the ball to the plate quicker to keep runners more honest.

Could improvements already have been made?

“If I had been slower, he wouldn’t have had a chance,” Ohlendorf said, referring to Snyder’s ability to throw out Upton. “He made as good of a throw as he could have made and it was still pretty close. And Upton is a fast runner. I was quicker [today] than I would have been last year on most of my pitches, especially with a guy on second.”

The pitchers are working on slidesteps and ways to break up the timing of the runner — whether that be holding the ball longer, being quicker to the plate, etc. Be sure that the work is going to continue. But also give credit to Snyder for a pair of great throws.

“They’ve worked hard at it. It’s paying off,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “And both his throws were very, very accurate. He does a good job back there for us.”

***

A few tidbits:

  • Ronny Cedeno returned to the lineup on Monday and got his first hit of the spring. He had been 0-for-11. Cedeno told me he has been dealing with some timing issues, but maybe he was right when he followed that up by saying he felt he would be breaking through soon.
  • The Pirates have scored two runs in their last 21 innings. That’s not reason for huge concern right now given that pitchers are typically ahead of hitters early in spring. However, most of the starting position players are playing in Tuesday’s game against the Twins, so that would be a group that you would want to see some offense from.
  • None of the three bullpen candidates who pitched on Monday — Jose Veras, Tyler Yates, Daniel Moskos – fared exceptionally well. Veras and Yates each allowed two walks. Moskos walked one but also allowed three hits.

***

On the main site later, you will find notes about Evan Meek’s spring debut, Pedro Ciriaco’s favorable early impressive and minor injuries to Josh Rodriguez (right quad tightness) and John Bowker (left wrist soreness).

On a side note, I have the day off on Tuesday, so you’ll have to rely on my capable colleague Evan Drellich for your daily news. I will be spending most of the day not at the beach, but working on a lengthy feature story that is set to run on Wednesday. It’s a story that I hope will bring some perspective about how important winning and losing a baseball game really is. I hope you will read and enjoy.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Pirates 2, Yankees 0

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Granted, the Yankees didn’t bring many of their big guns to McKechnie Field on Tuesday. But a shutout is a shutout, and the Pirates were pleased to see all six of their pitchers come in and toss a scoreless inning or two.

The win was the third in five games for the Pirates this spring, and it gives the club back-to-back Grapefruit League victories for the first time since 2009. Yes, that is correct. The team did not win consecutive games once last spring.

The news of the day came this morning, as lefty Joe Beimel had to stop throwing because of more discomfort in his left throwing arm. You can read here to get a closer look at what other left-handed options the Pirates have should Beimel be sidelined into the season. I’ll give you the answer: not many. That doesn’t mean someone can’t step up, of course. But no matter how much the Pirates say they don’t mind going with no left-handed relievers if their best seven are all righties, I just can’t see that happening.

Beimel is undergoing an MRI as I type, though it’s not clear if the Pirates will reveal the results tonight. If not, we should know tomorrow morning how serious an issue this could be.

In today’s Bucs Beat, you’ll find additional injury updates (Scott Olsen, Evan Meek, Jose Ascanio), as well as a look into what James McDonald defines as his season goal. Check the main site later for those items.

As for your leftovers…

***

A little more on McDonald’s start… It’s hard to compare two-inning spring outings, but McDonald appeared, to me, to be as sharp as any Pirates starter to take the mound yet. He was efficient and aggressive, not that the latter was ever much of a problem for McDonald last year.

He threw strikes, got ahead more times than not and got outs early in the count. These are all good early signs for a pitcher who has struggled to keep his pitch count low enough to go deep into his starts before.

McDonald threw mostly fastballs on Tuesday, mixing in one cutter, which is a pitch he is working to use more. Asked where he is in his Spring Training progression, McDonald said: “Actually, I feel like I’m a little ahead right now [compared to years' past]. I was surprised how well I could go side-to-side over the plate. I am pretty happy with myself with the way I’m going.”

The most impressive thing, in my opinion, about McDonald so far is his attitude. He has every intention to lead by example, and for McDonald, that begins by not assuming that a spot in the rotation is already his.

“I’ve got to keep working to show my guys that I’m working really hard and that I’m not going to go through Spring Training like it’s a cakewalk because I’ve already made the team,” he said. “I don’t take it for granted that I’m on the team and sit back and relax.”

***

If anyone is more determined this spring than Steve Pearce, I haven’t seen it. Talk about someone on a mission. In addition to doing everything he needs to do to prove he’s good enough to play third base, Pearce just looks like he refuses to be outworked by anyone.

He had a double in his only at-bat on Tuesday and swiped third base. He also made a nice catch in foul territory over the dugout railing. He has an extra bounce to his step that is noticeable and is out to give the Pirates no choice but to take him to Pittsburgh.

If he doesn’t make the roster out of Spring Training, I wouldn’t want to be the one to tell him.

***

As mentioned in the main story on pirates.com, Justin Thomas believes that, if Beimel is out with an injury, that he has the ability to step up and play an important role in the Pirates’ bullpen. The left-hander has not established himself as a consistent Major League reliever yet, but Thomas believes he is ready to make that step forward this year.

“I know what is expected from me,” he said. “I just need to do it now. I’m at the point in my career where I’ve had a couple stints in the Major Leagues with a couple different teams. I just need to be there and prove that I belong there. I want to be a guy who isn’t just good enough to be there when they need you but who is good enough to be there all the time.”

Thomas could have two new pitches at his disposal out of the ‘pen this year, too. He said he threw a lot of curveballs in winter ball this year and has a better feel for the pitch as a result. He is also in the process of adding a cutter to his repertoire.

The Pirates aren’t likely to throw Thomas into a set-up role right away, instead preferring to use more experienced right-handers (think: Evan Meek, Chris Resop) in those late-inning spots early. But there’s no question that the club would benefit if Thomas steps up and shows he deserves to pitch in higher leverage spots.

***

Credit Daniel McCutchen with a nice bounceback performance after a rocky Grapefruit League appearance over the weekend. On Saturday, McCutchen was knocked for three runs on two hits and two walks. His command was quite suspect.

On Tuesday, he retired all six batters he faced. And McCutchen did so quickly.

I still suspect that McCutchen will begin the season in the Triple-A Indianapolis rotation, but he is out here competing for a bullpen spot. And actually, McCutchen could be better suited for a bullpen role long-term. He has a bulldog mentality and I could see him benefiting from going all out for one inning rather than having to hold back to ensure longevity.

“I really like the way that he responded from his last outing,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “He went and filled the plate up with strikes, got after people. He’ll feel a lot better about himself tonight and that’s always good for all our guys. I like what I saw out of him today. He’s one of the guys that we’re expecting to see take a step forward and compete this spring.”

***
The second save of the spring for the Pirates goes to Daniel Moskos, who had plenty of experience notching them while in the closer’s role with Altoona last year. Moskos rebounded nicely after issuing a one-out walk that brought the tying run to the plate. He appeared plenty poised working around the trouble. 

“Daniel is competing,” Hurdle said. “I think he was slowing himself down a little bit and gathering himself a little better than he was last time out. He got outs when we needed him there. He’s coming along. We just need him to go pitch, make pitches, have confidence in himself, not let the game speed him up.”

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Rays 9, Pirates 5

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The Grapefruit League is officially underway, as is my countdown to Opening Day. (It’s at 34, if you’re playing along at home). A few housekeeping items to give you an idea of how I anticipate using the blog during the next month of exhibition games…

Expect there to be a pregame blog entry every morning that includes lineups as well as any news that comes out of the clubhouse that morning. Some days will be full of early-morning news (think: cut days). Others, not so much.

In addition to an early blog, you can look for a postgame, as well. Now, I am going to write up a number of game-related items for the Bucs Beat (which you will find each evening on pirates.com). That should serve as your primary content, and I’ll fill in the loose ends here with any other observations that I found notable.

In today’s Beat, you’ll find notes about the lineup (Is Clint Hurdle going to bat Jose Tabata at leadoff?), fifth starter competition (How did Brad Lincoln/Charlie Morton look?) and a fun note about former Vanderbilt teammates squaring off (Did Pedro Alvarez get the better of David Price?). You will also find a feature on Daniel Moskos, and his aim at winning a spot on the Opening Day roster.

I’m not going to rehash any of that information on the blog, but I will supplement it with the following…

***

There is so much work done in Spring Training on pickoffs, and the Pirates wasted little time executing one to perfection on Saturday. It was obvious that Brad Lincoln had his eye on Rays infielder Sean Rodriguez almost as soon as he advanced to second in the third inning. Lincoln threw to the base once and bluffed on another turn toward the bag. He saw shortstop Ronny Cedeno sneak over again and got Rodriguez easily on try No. 3.

“It was the right timing, and I was fortunate enough to make a good throw,” Lincoln said. “It got me out of a big situation right there.”

At the time, Tampa Bay had runners at first and second with two out and Johnny Damon at the plate.

Don’t think the perfect execution was lost on anyone in the dugout either. Coaches were visibly pumped up as Rodriguez was called out. Little things like that make an impression at this time of the year.

***

It got ugly here late in Saturday’s game, as the Pirates allowed seven runs in the Rays’ final two innings at the plate. Two things, in particular, stood out:

  • Daniel McCutchen had a chance to get out of the seventh without allowing a run to score and jumped ahead, 0-2, to Robinson Chirinos. But his 0-2 offering missed, and Chirinos punished it for a three-run double.
  • The Pirates had a chance to get out of the eighth without a run scoring, but Josh Fields’ inability to cleanly field a grounder gave the Rays an extra out to play with. Four runs ended up scoring in the frame.

Results really mean little in Spring Training, but executing on these little things are always a point of emphasis and won’t earn you brownie points with the manager if the mistakes become a pattern.

***

Up Next: The Pirates will have their home opener at McKechnie against this same Rays team at 1:05 p.m. The following pitchers are scheduled to throw: Kevin Correia, Brian Burres, Joel Hanrahan, Joe Beimel, Jose Veras, Tony Watson and Chris Leroux.

The game will be broadcast back in Pittsburgh on 104.7 FM. It will also be available on the Pirates Radio Network.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Bucs set 40-man roster; designate Duke, LaRoche, Young

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Zach Duke, Andy LaRoche and Delwyn Young were all designated for assignment on Friday in order to open up room on the 40-man roster for the Pirates to protect players in advance of the Rule 5 Draft.

The three were all eligible for arbitration. The Pirates obviously decided not to tender contracts to any of the three, and by designating them for assignment now, Pittsburgh cleared the space it needed to protect the players it wanted to.

Michael Crotta, Jeff Locke, Kyle McPherson, Daniel Moskos and Tony Watson have all been added to the 40-man roster. That roster is now full.

UPDATE: Just spoke with GM Neal Huntington, who said that the Pirates did try to negotiate a contract with Zach and were unsuccessful. The team did not feel he was worth what he was going to make in arbitration (probably around $5 million). The club also explored trade opportunities with no success.

This from Duke: “I am truly thankful for the opportunity the Pirates have given me and genuinely enjoyed my time in Pittsburgh. I understand this business decision and wish the Pirates and my friends still on the team the best of luck in the future.”

Here is the full story.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Moskos, Presley promoted

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 575 other followers