Results tagged ‘ Garrett Jones ’

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)

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

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

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

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

Lineups:

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

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

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Day 36: Twins @ Pirates

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

News about roster cuts (Garrett Atkins released; Justin Thomas and Fernando Nieve reassigned to Minor League camp) and about Scott Olsen’s setback can be found in previous blog entries from this morning. Here are the rest of your morning leftovers…

  • James McDonald will throw another bullpen session on Wednesday. After that, I would imagine he’d be ready to resume pitching in games. The Pirates have not said how McDonald’s absence will affect his ability to be ready for the start of the regular season.
  • Brad Lincoln’s right arm is still swollen, but he said his range of motion and strength is coming back. Lincoln, who was hit in that arm on Friday, said he hopes to resume throwing (on flat ground) on Wednesday. This means he is definitely missing at least one turn through the rotation.
  • Lefty Joe Beimel had a cortisone shot in his left arm on Sunday. He is not throwing today and will be reevaluated tomorrow. Beimel said he is feeling much better and seems to think he won’t be sidelined long.
  • Garrett Jones is still dealing with some neck/shoulder soreness, though he doesn’t expect the issue to linger. He said he felt a little pop when running on Thursday and that his neck kept getting tighter. He did take six at-bats in a Minor League game on Sunday, so he’s on his way back. Jones is not in the lineup on Monday.
  • Catcher Chris Snyder will get 3-4 at-bats in a Minor League game on Monday. He’ll also put his gear on and catch a bullpen session. Assuming all goes well, Snyder, who was out with back soreness, will then catch in a Minor League game on Tuesday.
  • Shortstop Ronny Cedeno will join Snyder to get at-bats in a Minor League game on Monday. With so many players left in camp, it’s normal for position players to take turn playing in Minor League games simply so they can get their work in.
  • The Pirates announced that they will be having a 3 p.m. workout at Wrigley Field on March 31, the day before the club opens the season. The workout is not open to the public.
  • Steve Pearce is playing left field on Monday. Just another chance for Pearce to showcase his versatility. That corner utility spot is down to Pearce, Andy Marte and Josh Fields. I get the impression that Fields is on the outside looking in.

Lineups:

PIRATES: A. McCutchen (CF), N. Walker (2B), S. Pearce (LF), L. Overbay (1B), M. Diaz (RF), P. Alvarez (3B), J. Rodriguez (SS), J. Jaramillo (C), P. Maholm (LHP)

Pitchers: P. Maholm (six innings), Garrett Olson, Jose Veras, Sean Gallagher

TWINS: D. Span (CF), M. Tolbert (SS), J. Mauer (C), D. Young (DH), J. Bailey (1B), L. Hughes (2B), B. Dinkelman (LF), C. Lambin (3B), J. Repko (RF)

Pitchers: B. Duensing, M. Capps, C. Gutierrez, J. Hoey, C. James, G. Perkins

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Pirates 9, Red Sox 4

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

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

***

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

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

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

***

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

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

I still have my money on Paul Maholm.

***

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Pirates sign 1B Overbay

The Pirates have signed free agent first baseman Lyle Overbay to a one-year contract, the team announced on Tuesday. Financial terms of the contract were not immediately known.

Overbay, 33, comes to Pittsburgh after spending the last five seasons with Toronto. Overbay, who made $24 million over the past four years, hit .243 with 37 doubles, 20 homers and 67 RBIs in 154 games last season. He is a career .274 hitter since breaking into the Majors with Arizona in 2001.

Overbay’s .996 fielding percentage last year ranked second best in the American League. He led all AL first baseman in double plays (150) and assists (101).

“Lyle Overbay is a solid Major League player, and we expect him to have a positive impact on our club offensively, defensively and in the clubhouse,” general manager Neal Huntington said in a statement.

The left-handed hitting Overbay has averaged 17 home runs a season over the last seven years. He was an everyday player during that span and appeared in at least 157 games four times. His best season came in 2006, when Overbay hit .312 with 46 doubles, 22 homers and 92 RBIs.

The acquisition of Overbay gives the Pirates another option at first base, but it doesn’t necessarily bring clarity to the Pirates’ plans for Garrett Jones and Ryan Doumit. The left-handed hitting Jones was projected to be the team’s starting first baseman, with the possibility that the Pirates would platoon him with a right-handed hitting first baseman.

Now it appears as if the Pirates are going to give the majority of the first base at-bats to Overbay.

There’s always the possibility that Jones could move into a platoon role with Matt Diaz in right field if Doumit is dealt. The Pirates are known to be gauging trade interest in Doumit, and this acquisition could be a sign that his days in Pittsburgh are nearing an end.

UPDATE: Spoke to Huntington, who said Jones will indeed platoon with Diaz in right field. Overbay will play every day at first base. Doumit will back up Snyder and get occasional outfield at-bats.

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Huntington on Day 3 of Winter Meetings

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Once again, GM Neal Huntington has wrapped up his daily session with the Pittsburgh media contingent. Here is what he had to say…

  • On whether the pending acquisitions are opening up other possible moves: “I think we’re looking through creative alternatives. I think people are intrigued with what we’re doing and maybe it’s opening some more doors. People are inquiring, based on what we’ve been able to do, to try and see if there might be some trade fits with some of the other alternatives. I guess one thing could be leading to another.”
  • On how Ryan Doumit would be affected by the acquisition of an outfielder: “Ryan’s at-bats in the outfield, it was going to be a platoon if we had tendered Lastings Milledge. If we acquire a right-handed hitting outfielder that we feel is an upgrade for the organization, it remains similar. The outfielder may have an opportunity to get some more at-bats if he performs well. We are thinking of Ryan as a left-handed hitting option that also gets enough at-bats behind home plate.”
  • On whether this means Garrett Jones is viewed as everyday first baseman: “Yes and no. Garrett is strongest against right-handed pitching. I think if we can protect him some then it makes a lot of sense for us as an organization. Do we have that piece right now? Steve Pearce could be that piece. It depends upon the rest of the bench and how it comes together.”
  • On whether he expects any deals to be finalized before leaving Orlando on Thursday: “No. We’ve still got some things to put in motion. We still have some last minute details to put together before we finalize any of the rumors that are circulating.”
  • On thoughts about Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft: “We’re kicking around some names. Teams have called to see if we would trade – either trade the pick completely or trade down. It’s a lot of fun talking about trading down. There are guys out there that we are interested in. It’s not something that we’re over the top excited about this year. But there are guys that we feel like can help us and have a legitimate chance to make the team.”
  • On whether it makes financial sense to pay Doumit $5.1 million to be platoon player: “As you sit and put it together from scratch, probably not. But as you try to tackle what your resources are and what your options are, you try to make the best of it.”
  • Huntington also said the club is considering both position players and pitchers with its Rule 5 pick. It’s doubtful the Pirates would make two picks.

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Jones sidelined with shoulder injury

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Bothered by shoulder soreness in his right shoulder, Garrett Jones sat out on Saturday and may not make a return to the field until Tuesday, at the earliest.

Jones sustained the initial shoulder injury diving for a ball in New York on Thursday. He then re-aggravated it in Friday’s contest while making another dive at first base. He played the entirety of Friday’s game but said he woke up on Saturday barely able to lift his arm above his shoulder.

Jones did not take any swings or groundballs in batting practice on Saturday and said he wouldn’t be available to pinch hit.

This isn’t the first time that Jones has had this type of right shoulder discomfort. He sustained a similar shoulder injury twice last season – once with Triple-A Indianapolis and then again with the Pirates later in the season.

“It doesn’t complete pop out of the joint, but it shifts more than anything,” he said, describing the feeling. “It’s kind of a reoccurring thing and something I have to maintain.”

Jones said that when his shoulder was examined last year, doctors found bruised cartilage and slight blood leakage. That weak cartilage, Jones surmised, is likely why he has some trouble keeping his shoulder from popping in and out .

Jones will have his shoulder examined again, though he said he doesn’t anticipate any surgery being necessary.

“It’s just a maintaining thing to keep the muscles strong,” Jones said.

Jones also strongly dismissed the suggestion that any shoulder issues could be an explanation for his drop off in offensive production during the second half of the season. Since the All-Star break, Jones has batted .211 with 10 doubles, nine homers and 25 RBIs in 58 games. He drove in 52 runs in the first half.

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Sunday notes

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

As the Pirates try to avoid their first winless road trip of the season, I bring you some Sunday notes to chew on…

  • Speaking on his radio show on Sunday, GM Neal Huntington would neither confirm, nor deny, that top prospect Pedro Alvarez could make his Major League debut this week. There is a lot of speculation that Tuesday could be the big day for Alvarez, but it’s no surprise that the organization hasn’t made any announcement even that is the circled date. Given that Alvarez is the most hyped Pittsburgh prospect probably since Barry Bonds, you’d think the Pirates would at least announce Alvarez’s promotion a day before it happens. That would give Pittsburghers a chance to scoop up tickets, which would surely happen.
  • Why does this time seem ideal for Alvarez’s arrival. Well, from a schedule standpoint, if the Pirates would like to bring Alvarez up at home, they don’t have many options between now and the All-Star break. Outside of this upcoming six-game homestand, Pittsburgh has just one other series at home (July 1-4) before the break. Do I think this is a huge deal for management? No. The Pirates showed with Brad Lincoln and Jose Tabata that they have no issues bringing up notable prospects on the road.
  • If Alvarez comes up this week, it’d be because the Pirates are pleased with what he has done recently. Since the start of the month, Alvarez has hit .409 with five doubles, two triples and two homers. He drove in 30 runs in May and seven so far in June. Very critical, too, is that Alvarez has upped his season average against left-handers to .328 (he’s hitting .276 against righties). The Pirates needed to see Alvarez have success against southpaws before feeling comfortable with him making the move.
  • Regardless of whether Alvarez arrives or not, Lincoln and Tabata will be making their PNC Park debuts on Tuesday. Lincoln will actually make two starts during the homestand (Tuesday and Sunday), while Tabata is expected to be the everyday guy in left field.
  • I’ve gotten a lot of questions lately about the likelihood of the Pirates signing first-round pick Jameson Taillon and second-round choice Stetson Allie. First off, don’t expect either signing — if there are ones — to be soon. These negotiations are going to mirror the 2008 Alvarez ones much more than the Tony Sanchez ones from last year. Both Taillon and Allie (who fell to the second round because of his college committment) are going to ask for well over slot money. And the Pirates are willing to pay that… to an extent, of course. I’d guess that Taillon is a likely sign (probably for Alvarez-type dollars) considering he doesn’t really have the leverage to say he wants to go to college to increase his Draft standing. You can’t really do that much better when you’re already No. 2. Allie could be tougher, but if the Pirates offer first-round money, he’ll at least listen closely. Either way, these negotiations are expected to go up until the Aug. 16 midnight deadline.
  • Ryan Doumit was back behind the plate on Sunday for the first time since last Sunday, when he was hit in the head by a foul tip. This is good news for the defense. I don’t forsee the Pirates giving up the idea of using Doumit at first base sporadically even after his issues on Saturday. But it is clear that Doumit does not look comfortable over there yet. To Doumit’s defense, he had only a week’s worth of reps at first (since 2007) before he was thrown into play the position. But that’s not much of an excuse for missing a throw that never hit the dirt.
  • Why wasn’t Doumit the DH on Saturday instead of Garrett Jones, who could have played first? There were two primary reasons given. One, it’s always a risk to have your second catcher as the DH. If Doumit was DHing and Jason Jaramillo got hurt, the Pirates would lose the DH by moving Doumit behind the plate. By having him at first base last night, a switch like that could have been made, if necessary, withhout forfeiting the DH. Also, manager John Russell really wanted to give Jones a night off from playing defense.
  • If you haven’t already read last night’s game story, you’ll find that Doumit was especially hard on himself afterward. As a reporter, you always appreciate honesty. And I commend the fact that both Doumit and Brendan Donnelly were in the clubhouse waiting to talk to reporters as soon as we were allowed in.
  • The Pirates are having serious issues throwing out base stealers, though Russell insists that the issue is being strongly addressed on both the pitcher and catcher ends. More on that here. This story doesn’t take into account that the Pirates allowed another two last night.

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Lincoln, Tabata headed to DC

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

So I’m supposedly “off” this week (I know, bad timing), but I’ve gotten word that right-hander Brad Lincoln has already taken a flight to Washington D.C. and that outfielder Jose Tabata was told after Indianapolis’ game on Tuesday that he would be heading to the big league club as well.

The additions of Lincoln and Tabata on Wednesday were obviously made possible by the two roster moves the Pirates made after Tuesday’s loss. Reliever Jack Taschner was designated for assignment, and first baseman Jeff Clement was optioned to Triple-A.

Lincoln had been widely speculated as the one who was going to take the TBD spot in the Pirates’ rotation. The addition of Tabata, though, wasn’t as expected, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t plenty deserved.

The 21-year-old outfielder hit .308 with 40 runs scored, 13 doubles, two triples, three homers and 18 RBIs in 52 games with Triple-A Indianapolis this season. He had also swiped 23 bases.

I’d have to believe that Tabata is going to jump into the starting lineup immediately and stay there. I can’t see the Pirates bringing up one of its top prospects and putting him on the bench. That likely means that Garrett Jones is headed to play first base regularly.

Tuesday may have been the Nationals’ day to see part of its future, but Wednesday is poised to be the Pirates’ time in the limelight. Tabata and Lincoln represent 2/3 of the Big 3 prospects that everyone knew would be up sooner or later this summer. Pedro Alvarez, obviously, represents the remaining one, and his arrival will undoubtedly be the biggest.

OK.. now back to my “night off.” This NBA game is getting good…

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June 2: Cubs (24-29) @ Pirates (22-31)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

MLB released All-Star Game online voting totals on Tuesday, and once again, the Pirates didn’t have a player dent the Top 5 (or Top 15 with outfielders). The glaring omission, obviously, has to be center fielder Andrew McCutchen.

Consider that he entered Wednesday…

  • Ranked 2nd among all NL outfielders with a .310 batting average
  • Ranked 6th among all NL outfielders with a .385 on-base percentage
  • Ranked 2nd among all NL outfielders with 13 stolen bases
  • Ranked 2nd among all NL outfielders with 61 hits

Sure, McCutchen is not among the HR and RBI leaders, but that’s not where he is expected to be. There’s no doubt that McCutchen has caught the idea of players/coaches/managers around the league all year — I’m always getting quotes (unsolicited) about the outfielder from our MLB.com writers covering other teams — but he’s just not getting the public recognition his season deserves. Part of that likely has to do with the fact that he doesn’t play for a big-market team or for a top club. We’ll see if it changes as the month progresses.

Voting will continue online at MLB.com for another month. You can cast your vote here. Updated NL voting totals will be released weekly.

TODAY’S NEWS AND NOTES:

  • This moustache and high socks fad has caught on in the clubhouse, but I’m going to make you read more about Bobby Crosby’s initial challenge to grow out the facial hair in the Pirates Beat on the main site a little later. Don’t expect to see any razors until the team loses.
  • In case you missed it after last night’s game, lefty Jack Taschner has been activated off the DL and Steven Jackson was optioned back to Triple-A Indianapolis.
  • First baseman Steve Pearce (sprained right ankle) was cleared to hit off the tee on Wednesday for the first time. “Moving on up,” he said, smiling. He has not yet begun any sort of running. That will be last on the list.
  • Starter Chris Jakubauskas is headed to Bradenton, Fla., tomorrow to continue his throwing program. He threw two sides here and will throw at least two more sides and two sessions of batting practice down there before the Pirates continue a Minor League rehab assignment. The best news continues to be that he is feeling no more effects from being hit in the head on a line drive.
  • Outfielder Ryan Church may have come back from a bruised right wrist injury weeks ago, but he said on Wednesday that this series has marked the first time since the initial injury (May 7) that the wrist hasn’t affected him.
  • Jeff Karstens is likely to start for the Pirates on Sunday, though manager John Russell hesitated to say that was etched in stone. Newly-acquired Dana Eveland is unlikely to be ready to join the rotation by then. And Brian Burres is being skipped.
  • As for Burres, Russell said he’d be a bullpen option tonight, but the plans for him moving forward were fuzzy. That sure seems to suggest that he might be on his way out when Eveland arrives on Friday. The numbers just don’t seem to add up otherwise.
  • Pirates president Frank Coonelly held his monthly online chat on Wednesday, and here is the transcript. Coonelly discussed the Draft throughout, and to complement that, I’ll have two Draft stories coming out over the next two days to go into more detail on the Pirates’ Draft plans.
  • While we’re talking Draft, MLB.com Draft guru Jonathan Mayo made his latest first-round predictions on Wednesday. His guess at who the Pirates will take with the No. 2 pick? High school shortstop Manny Machado. Though he cautions everyone not to count out high school pitcher Jameson Taillon. Here is Mayo’s full list.
  • For those of you not close enough to get FSN Pittsburgh, MLB Network has announced that it will be telvising Stephen Strasburg’s Major League debut against the Pirates next Tuesday. You had to figure that was coming…
  • Recently benched second baseman Aki Iwamura was out taking groundballs at third base this afternoon. Iwamura played third during his time in Japan, and the Pirates are refamiliarizing him with the position so that he can be an option there off the bench.
  • How good have the Pirates been against the Cubs this year? Well, the team is 7-1 and has won five straight games against Chicago at PNC Park. That comes after the Pirates went 1-8 in their previous nine against the Cubs. Garrett Jones and McCutchen have been especially potent against Chicago pitching — the two have combined to go 27-for-53 with four homers, 17 RBIs and 17 runs scored.
  • According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Pirates’ seven wins this season while scoring three or fewer runs trails only the Padres, who have won 12 times while scoring no more than three runs.

Pirates lineup:

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

Cubs lineup:

  1. Ryan Theriot (2B)
  2. Jeff Baker (RF)
  3. Marlon Byrd (CF)
  4. Xavier Nady (1B)
  5. Aramis Ramirez (3B)
  6. Alfonso Soriano (LF)
  7. Geovany Soto (C)
  8. Starlin Castro (SS)
  9. Carlos Zambrano (RHP)

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