Results tagged ‘ Ian Snell ’

A defining day for the Pirates organization

I don’t know how you can call it anything but a defining day for the organization.

I was in the process of turning my computer on after having just arrived at AT&T Park on Wednesday morning when the first press release came through. Jack Wilson, Ian Snell gone. That was only the beginning of what is now a more than 12-hour day.

For those overwhelmed with all the content, here it is laid out hopefully in an orderly fashion:

  • Here is a look at the goodbyes from Wilson and Freddy Sanchez, both of whom were sincerely sad to be leaving the organization. As you will read, both contacted the Pirates on Tuesday with counteroffers because both wanted to stay. On a personal note, I’m going to miss watching the two play defense. It had become one of my favorite parts of the job.
  • Here is a look at all the prospects the Pirates received in return on Wednesday. I’ll point out that my colleague and Draft guru Jonathan Mayo was extremely high on RHP Tim Alderson, who the Pirates received straight up for Sanchez. It may not be of solace to you all who are emotionally torn to see two fan favorites go, but a member of the Giants media corps just came up to me and told me he had already begun receiving all sorts of emails from San Francisco fans who believe the Giants gave up too much for Sanchez in parting ways with Alderson. Take that for what it’s worth, but remember, many years ago both Sanchez and Wilson were “prospects” in Trade Deadline deals.
  • Here are some final thoughts from Snell, who was dealt to Seattle along with Wilson. I got Snell on the phone while he was sitting in the Norfolk airport. He was flying back to Indianapolis on Wednesday to gather his stuff and then heading to join his new team on Thursday. It wouldn’t shock me at all if Snell finds his way and becomes a solid Major League starter again. And I sincerely hope he does. However, no matter how successful he might become, I don’t think he ever would have again in Pittsburgh if for nothing more than he had mentally already left this team.
  • And here is the today’s game recap on a game that I will admit I did not see any of. I wish I was exaggerating when I say I didn’t see Duke throw a single pitch. From the look of the box score, though, he must have been darn good. Huge thanks to the Giants MLB.com intern, Andrew, for stepping in and taking care of Wednesday’s gamestory so I could devote all my time to trade-related items. 

Some other items to wrap up the day…

  • Ronny Cedeno will get the majority of the playing time at short, while Delwyn Young will make most of the starts at second the rest of the season
  • Lastings Milledge is expected to join the team in Pittsburgh on Friday, though that roster move has not been officially announced as of yet.
  • No cash was included in the deal that sent Sanchez to the Giants
  • The deal also wasn’t made official until after Sanchez underwent another examination by the San Francisco medical staff. He sat out the entire series because of inflammation in his left knee
  • Sanchez, a three-time All-Star, ended his career with the Pirates going 0-for-20
  • Ironically enough, the Pirates had their team photo day just before leaving for this road trip. Might have been wise to have waited until after the July 31 deadline in retrospect.
  • Wilson joined the Mariners in time for their game in Seattle on Wednesday night, but he did not play in the game.
  • In addition to sending Wilson and Snell to Seattle, the Pirates also covered all but $400,000 remaining on the contracts of each player for the rest of the season. If my math is right, that is something around $3 million in total.
  • GM Neal Huntington emphasized during his second press conference on Wednesday that Wednesday’s trades were not salary dumps but good baseball trades considering the contract status of both players.
  • Manager John Russell said that he plans to address the team after Friday’s 4 p.m. Trade Deadline. He said he also expects Huntington to address the team.

So the big remaining question… Will there be any more deals in the next 40 hours and counting? Huntington wouldn’t commit either way, saying: “We continue to have ongoing dialogue. We’re not looking to make any more trades. We weren’t looking to make these trades. We don’t need to make other trades. But if the right baseball opportunity presents itself, it’s certainly something we take a look at. Again, if it’s strong enough, we move forward.”

If there is anything else on the horizon, it would likely involve John Grabow. The Pirates also could very well get swamped with offers late on him after Orioles lefty reliever George Sherill is snatched up by someone.

One other quick personal note (since I know Wilson reads this blog because he has called me “By Gosh” all season): I wanted to thank you, Jack and Freddy, for your professionalism in all my time covering the organization. For those who didn’t have the pleasure of getting of getting both personally, the Pirates are losing two standup people and competitors.

Actually, one other note as well to the faithful readers of the blog. I will actually be completely out-of-pocket for the next three days. I am taking a red-eye tonight to St. Louis to be in a wedding of some good friends of mine. The wedding (fittingly) is Friday afternoon, so maybe in a way I’m lucky all this went down today instead of then. Anyways, you’ll be covered on the main pirates.com site if anything happens, but the blog and twitter will be on a short hiatus. I apologize for the timing, but obviously my friends didn’t consult the baseball calendar when planning their wedding. I’ll be back on the blog on Monday.

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July 26: Pirates (43-54) @ D-backs (42-56); Yanks scouting Snell

First some new news on the trade front…

There may not be any biggest discussion/dilemma in the Pirates’ front office right now than about what to do with Ian Snell. One month ago, the right-hander asked for a demotion to Triple-A, certainly not something you hear a player asking about every day. He also has expressed little interest in coming back to Pittsburgh. Since going to Triple-A Indianapolis, Snell has been unbelievable. He has allowed just two earned runs in 32 1/3 innings (five starts). He has 43 strikeouts and 12 walks.

So it’s no surprise that a number of clubs have already contacted the Pirates to see what it would take to land Snell.

The Yankees are the latest and have a scout at Indianapolis’ Victory Field on Sunday to watch Snell’s start. Though their level of interest in Snell isn’t known, it’s no secret that New York is in the market for a starting pitcher to replace Chien-Ming Wang in the rotation. Obviously, Snell is being looked at as a potential option.

A week ago, GM Neal Huntington made it clear that he does not plan on selling Snell low, even though no one is sure that Snell will ever be able to be successful in Pittsburgh because of the still-present friction between he and the organization based on how he left last month.

“Teams are still hoping to bottom fish and we’re still not ready to just give the guy away,” Huntington said. “At this point, his four or five strong outings haven’t increased his value [externally]. We’re not talented enough and deep enough as an organization to just give away a player that has Major League ability, as challenging as it can be sometimes.”

Still, the Pirates would prefer not to pay Snell’s $4.25 million guaranteed salary next season. And if the Yankees (or any other interested club for that matter) see Snell as a fit, maybe they’ll be willing to part with enough of a package to entice Pittsburgh and solve this problem.

As for today’s other news, notes and randomness…

  • Lefty Phil Dumatrait is making his second rehab start, first with short-season State College, today. I’ll be sure to pass along the results of that start when he’s done pitching.
  • After Dumatrait starts on Sunday, he’ll join Double-A Altoona to continue his rehab work for the next week.
  • For those curious, the Pirates were 44-53 after 97 games last year. They have one fewer win at the same point in the season this year.
  • The Pirates are currently 11 games under .500. Only once this season have they been further below .500 — a loss on July 12 put the team 12 games under .500 heading into the All-Star break.
  • Here’s a great quote from D-backs manager A.J. Hinch on Ross Ohlendorf, who you may or may not know graduated from Princeton with a degree in Operations Research and Financial Engineering (for anyone who knows what that means). Said Hinch, who was the D-backs’ farm director when Ohlendorf was coming up through Arizona’s system: “He was the only guy I ever had who asked to be allowed to leave the team for a couple of days to finish his thesis.”

Pirates lineup:

  1. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  2. Freddy Sanchez (2B)
  3. Garrett Jones (RF)
  4. Ryan Doumit (C)
  5. Steve Pearce (1B)
  6. Brandon Moss (LF)
  7. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  8. Jack Wilson (SS)
  9. Virgil Vasquez (RHP)

D-backs lineup:

  1. Stephen Drew (SS)
  2. Gerardo Parra (LF)
  3. Justin Upton (RF)
  4. Mark Reynolds (3B)
  5. Miguel Montero (C)
  6. Chris Young (CF)
  7. Josh Whitesell (1B)
  8. Ryan Roberts (2B)
  9. Max Scherzer (RHP)

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General manager Neal Huntington on…

Ian Snell’s situation: “Ian spoke publically about not wanting to come back and it’s tough to bring a player back into a clubhouse with 24 other players when he’s been adamant he doesn’t want to come back. There may come a point in time where we bring him back regardless and hope the increase in stuff and increase in performance will translate here at the Major League level. There’s no doubt he’s gone down there and thrown well.

“Teams still poke around and are hoping that we’re ready to give up on him and just give him away or they’re going to give us their bad contract for what could be deemed his bad contract, but at this point, his four or five strong outings haven’t increased his value. We’re still not ready to just give the guy away. We’re not talented enough and deep enough as an organization to just give away a player that has Major League ability as challenging as it can be sometimes.”

Lastings Milledge’s progression: “He’s an interesting case. We felt like it was going to take some time to make some adjustments that we saw with him. A lot of things have come together pretty quickly. He’s taken to those adjustments quickly. We don’t want to overreact and rush him to the big leagues because he is still coming back from the hand [injury] and his timing should theoretically be off. But he’s swinging just great. He’s worked really hard defensively and to make those adjustments a part of his typical plan. If he does that, sure, he opens the door a lot closer than maybe anticipated.”

Chase d’Arnaud’s injury: “Our hope is to get him back maybe in instructional league or even send him out to play this winter. We’ll make a decision from there to see if there is something we can do this winter to make up for these lost at-bats.”

Minor Matters

I’m going to keep this brief because I’m trying to enjoy a day off, but here are a few Minor League news and notes that I thought were worth passing along…

  • Indianapolis catcher Erik Kratz earned the MLBAM International League Top Star Award for his 2-for-2 performance in Wednesday night’s Triple-A All-Star Game. Kratz, who started the contest against the Pacific Coast League and batted eighth, had a double and a two-run homer, scored twice and walked once in the IL’s 6-5 win.
  • Kratz’s IL award gives the Indians bragging rights for the second straight year. Center fielder Andrew McCutchen won the honor in last summer’s Triple-A All-Star Game.
  • In the Double-A All-Star Game, it was Altoona’s 1B/OF Jason Delaney who provided the go-ahead RBI in the eighth inning of the South Division’s 5-3 win. Delaney, who started the game as the designated hitter, went 1-for-3 with a walk while playing the entire game.
  • Altoona’s Brian Friday also played the entire game as the team’s shortstop. He went 1-for-4. LHP Daniel Moskos pitched one inning in the contest and allowed one earned run on one hit and three walks.
  • After a three-day All-Star break, Indianapolis returns to action tonight in Pawtucket, R.I. Ian Snell, who is 1-1 with a 0.45 ERA in three starts since being demoted, will make the start.
  • LHP Rinku Singh, one of the two Indian pitchers on the Pirates’ Gulf Coast League team, earned his first professional victory on Monday. He pitched just one-third of an inning and struck out the only hitter he faced. Singh’s professional baseball win is the first for any Indian-born player. Overall, he has allowed four runs on five hits and two walks in three innings.
  • Third baseman Neil Walker continues his work back from a knee injury that he sustained in early June and has now played in eight games with the GCL Pirates. Walker is 5-for-30 with one RBI. He was activated off the DL on Thursday and has rejoined Indianapolis.

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Tying up loose ends as the break approaches

While I continue to sit out this rain delay at Busch Stadium, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to highlight a few news items from the last few days since I haven’t been with the team and therefore, haven’t been bloggin as religiously…

  • As noted on the Pirates homepage, Zach Duke has been named to the National League All-Star team on Sunday. He takes the spot of Giants pitcher Matt Cain, who sustained an arm injury on Sunday night.
  • Manager John Russell has set his rotation for out of the All-Star break. The order remains: Paul Maholm, Charlie Morton, Duke, Ross Ohlendorf, Virgil Vasquez. Russell said that he will reevaluate that order, if necessary, depending on how much Duke pitches in the All-Star Game on Tuesday. However, with Duke not scheduled to pitch until Sunday, he should be just fine.
  • The Pirates have agreed to terms with two more international players. They signed 18-year-old catcher Dylan Child from Australia and 16-year-old Dovydas Neverauskas, a right-handed pitcher out of Lithuania. Child will begin his professional at the Major League Baseball Academy in Australia this year. Neverauskas will join the organization in the instructional league this fall and then participate in the Pirates’ Minor League Spring Training.
  • Outfielder Lastings Milledge was moved from the Gulf Coast League to Triple-A Indianapolis on Friday. Milledge, who the Pirates acquired from the Nationals in the Nyjer Morgan/Sean Burnett trade, is 2-for-9 so far with the Indians.
  • Ian Snell made his third start for Indianapolis on Friday and allowed one earned run on seven hits in six innings. He now has a 0.45 ERA in three Triple-A starts.

July 5: Pirates (37-44) @ Marlins (42-40); All-Star Sunday

Officially, the second half of the season begins today with game #82, which makes it fitting that your 2009 All-Stars will be announced in a few hours. Though there could be arguments made for Zach Duke and Freddy Sanchez to be included on the team, the Pirates are expecting only one All-Star representative. Sanchez seems the most likely given how his numbers stack up against the league’s second baseman and how versatile an option he could be for NL manager Charlie Manuel. 

As for your news, notes and randomness…

  • Sanchez remains out of the lineup, as expected, with lower back tightness. Ramon Vazquez will again serve as his replacement, though really what other option was there? Sanchez did not swing a bat on Saturday, but said after the game that he had loosened up by the time the game ended. He did not swing again on Sunday, though, so that doesn’t seem to put him in very good position to return to the lineup on Monday.
  • Catcher Ryan Doumit begins his rehab stint with Triple-A Indianapolis on Sunday. UPDATE: Doumit caught five innings and went 0-for-2 at the plate.
  • Indianapolis was rained out on Saturday, which means that Ian Snell will now start on Sunday. The Indians are playing a double header, but the most interesting thing will be to keep an eye on how Snell responds after his 17-strikeout outing last week. UPDATE: Snell pitched a seven-inning, complete-game shutout. The game was to last only seven innings because it was the first of a doubleheader on Sunday. Snell allowed five hits, walked one and struck out six.
  • The Gulf Coast League Pirates are off on Sunday (as they always are on Sundays), and so a number of them will be making the trip down to Land Shark Stadium for the game today. About 30 players and staff members are expected to be in attendance.
  • Some interesting numbers to put the Pirates’ first-half stats into perspective: The team’s .267 average currently ranks third in the NL, which marks the first time since 2004 the Pirates have ranked that high at the mid-point of the season. The team’s 4.26 ERA is seventh best in the league. That’s the best rankig since the club was ranked sixth halfway through the 2002 season when it had a staff ERA of 3.97. Last year, the Pirates owned an NL-worst 5.10 ERA at this point in the season.

Pirates lineup:

  1. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  2. Jack Wilson (SS)
  3. Brandon Moss (RF)
  4. Adam LaRoche (1B)
  5. Garrett Jones (LF)
  6. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  7. Ramon Vazquez (2B)
  8. Jason Jaramillo (C)
  9. Ross Ohlendorf (RHP)

Marlins lineup:

UPDATE 11:30 pm: Hanley Ramirez has been scratched because of a tight right hip flexor. The revised Marlins lineup is noted below.

  1. Chris Coghlan (LF)
  2. Emilio Bonifacio (3B) (SS)
  3. Hanley Ramirez (SS) Dan Uggla (2B)
  4. Jorge Cantu (1B)
  5. Jeremy Hermida (RF)
  6. Dan Uggla (2B) Cody Ross (CF)
  7. Cody Ross (CF) John Baker (C)
  8. John Baker (C) Wes Helms (3B)
  9. Rickey Nolasco (RHP)

July 4: Pirates (37-43) @ Marlins (41-40); Happy 4th of July

Happy July 4th, everyone. Not sure why you’re busy reading this blog when you should be grilling out, headed to watch a fireworks show or enjoying time with family. But since baseball is America’s Pastime, I guess there’s a built-in excuse to check in for some baseball news, too.

There won’t be any BBQ for me (unless the press dining ladies here are so kind…), but I do get to look forward to a fireworks show and a concert from KC and the Sunshine Band later while I’m trying to write my gamestory. Maybe that would be more exciting if I actually knew who KC and the Sunshine Band was. Sorry for those who are now shaking their heads or wondering what planet I live on. But unless it’s country, I’m just not up on the music scene. At all. Past or present.

Well, folks, today also marks another milestone besides just our country’s 233rd birthday. It’s game #81, effectively marking the halfway point of the season. There have been huge steps forward made in some case (Zach Duke) and steps back by others (Ian Snell). Some have been consistent (Freddy Sanchez), while others have labored to show they belong as an everyday player (Brandon Moss). Some have arrived (oh boy, where do I start… Andrew McCutchen, Charlie Morton, Delwyn Young…), only to see others depart (Nate McLouth, Nyjer Morgan, Sean Burnett among them).

Still, the Pirates sit a respectable six games behind first-place St. Louis, though the team is still six games below .500. It’s still too early to tell if there will be relevant baseball in the second half of the season, though much of that will likely be determined by how these next eight days leading up to the All-Star Break go. If nothing else, the fact that the Pirates currently have eight rookies on the team — the most on any team in the Majors — should at least give us all a glimpse of what’s coming in the next few years.

As for today’s news, notes and randomness…

  • Freddy Sanchez remained out of the lineup again on Saturday, again because of tightness in his lower back. Sanchez confirmed that the problem is back spasms — not a pulled muscle. He continues to get treatment, though it seemed unlikely that Sanchez would be able to take swings pregame, which makes his availability as a pinch hitter quite questionable.
  • With Sanchez listed as day-to-day, it’s somewhat surprising to me that the Pirates have not opted to call up another infielder for protection — someone along the lines of Luis Cruz. If someone else in the middle infield were to go down, the Pirates really don’t have any replacements ready. And with Steve Pearce unlikely to get any playing time, it’d seem to make sense for him to be the one sent down to open a roster spot. Just me thinking outloud…
  • Ryan Doumit went 0-for-5 with one strikeout as the DH in a Gulf Coast League game on Saturday. He is flying to Indianapolis tonight so that he can join the Triple-A team on Sunday and continue his rehab there. A door has been left open for Doumit to return before the All-Star Break.
  • Both Indian pitchers — Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel – made their professional debuts on Saturday. Pitching for the GCL Pirates, Singh allowed two hits and one run in one inning. The left-hander struck out one and threw 19 pitches. Patel needed just eight pitches to get through his inning of relief. He struck out one and didn’t allow a baserunner.
  • Pedro Alvarez returned to action for Double-A Altoona on Friday and went 1-for-3 with a double and two strikeouts. Alvarez sat out for four days while dealing with left knee tendinitis.
  • Left-hander Tom Gorzelanny continues to shine down in Triple-A, with his latest stellar outing coming on Friday. Gorzelanny pitched eight innings and was charged with just one unearned run. He gave up five hits and walked none while striking out five. He certainly seems to be the next candidate for a rotation spot in Pittsburgh.
  • Speaking of Triple-A pitchers, Ian Snell is taking the mound for Indianapolis later this evening. It is his first start since striking out 17 — including 13 straight — in his 2009 Indy debut.
  • Interestingly enough, the Pirates haven’t played a night game on July 4 since 1990. They lost that game 5-4 in San Diego.
  • Manager John Russell did a bit more campaigning for Sanchez and Zach Duke to be included on the All-Star team. Those selections will be made on Sunday.
  • The Pirates have won five straight (four this season) against the Marlins. That’s the longest streak since the Pirates won seven consecutive games against Florida from July 7, 2004 – June 1, 2005.
  • The Pirates’ win on Friday was the first victory the team has had in Jack Wilson’s four games hitting second in the order. He’s there again on Saturday.
  • As they did on Friday, the Pirates and Marlins will wear the “Stars and Stripes” caps again on Saturday. I was a bit confused to see the caps come out on Friday since we were originally told they’d be worn just on the weekend, but oh well. The caps are also available for purchase at mlb.com. For every cap purchased, MLB.com will donate at least $1 to Welcome Back Veterans, a program that addresses the mental health and job needs of returning American Veterans. So get shopping!
  • Baseball is also honoring the 70th anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s farewell speech on Saturday. All players and personnel will wear a “4ALS” patch  to raise awareness for the fight against ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Each first base will also have that “4ALS” logo on it, and I’ve heard that Jeff Conine will be at Land Shark Stadium to read Gehrig’s “Luckiest Man” speech before Saturday’s game.
  • Some minor Minor League roster moves: Outfielder Jonel Pacheco and catcher Milver Reyes have been promoted from Double-A to Triple-A. Infielder Ray Chang was promoted from Single-A Lynchburg to Double-A Altoona.

 
Pirates lineup:

  1. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  2. Jack Wilson (SS)
  3. Delwyn Young (RF)
  4. Adam LaRoche (1B)
  5. Garrett Jones (LF)
  6. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  7. Robinzon Diaz (C)
  8. Ramon Vazquez (SS)
  9. Zach Duke (LHP)

Marlins lineup:

  1. Emilio Bonifacio (3B)
  2. Jeremy Hermida (LF)
  3. Hanley Ramirez (SS)
  4. Jorge Cantu (1B)
  5. Dan Uggla (2B)
  6. Cody Ross (CF)
  7. Ronny Paulino (C)
  8. Brett Carroll (RF)
  9. Andrew Miller (LHP) 

June 29: Cubs (35-37) @ Pirates (35-40)

It’s hard to believe that this is the first visit to PNC Park for the Cubs this season. It sure seemed that by this point last year, the Cubbies had been here once a month. In fact, the two clubs have only played three of their 15 scheduled games so far, with Chicago taking two of three at home back in May.

Monday’s start will probably be the last for Zach Duke to make his pitch for an All-Star Game nod. The team will be announced on Sunday, and Duke will have another start on Saturday, but you can assume that Phillies manager Charlie Manuel will have already made his choices by then.

We went through Duke’s All-Star credentials in Sunday’s pregame blog entry, so I won’t rehash those again (just scroll down if you missed it), but the good news is, if Duke is selected, he would be able to pitch. His last start before the All-Star game would fall on Friday, July 10, so he’d be on three days rest heading into the Mid-Summer Classic on Tuesday the 14th. That should be ample rest to be able to pitch an inning or so.

***

Ian Snell’s 17-strikeout performance in Triple-A on Sunday has already been well documented, but for those wanting to see highlights of it, you can do so here. Click on the panel picture of Snell for the video of his performance to start.

Manager John Russell was asked about Snell’s stellar start and while complimentary of it, resisted flattering Snell’s outing too much.

“It’s one game,” Russell said. “Obviously it was an outstanding game. We saw flashes of it here. He shows what he can be. It’s just the innings that he goes the other direction is what really hurt him. Obviously we don’t expect him to strike out that many guys every game, but the kind of consistency in throwing strikes is what we’re looking for.

“If it helps Ian to clear his mind then that’s going to be good for him. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I turned my head and said it’s just a Triple-A game. That’s impressive. You don’t just go do that. Obviously it’s a good first step. He probably took more than one step yesterday in a game like that. We’ll see.”

Snell’s next start will probably come on Friday.

***

Pirates lineup:

  1. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  2. Nyjer Morgan (LF)
  3. Freddy Sanchez (2B)
  4. Adam LaRoche (1B)
  5. Brandon Moss (RF)
  6. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  7. Jason Jaramillo (C)
  8. Jack Wilson (SS)
  9. Zach Duke (LHP)

Cubs lineup:

  1. Alfonso Soriano (LF)
  2. Ryan Theriot (SS)
  3. Derrek Lee (1B)
  4. Jake Fox (3B)
  5. Geovany Soto (C)
  6. Milton Bradley (RF)
  7. Ryan Freel (CF)
  8. Andres Blanco (2B)
  9. Rich Harden (RHP)

Snell strikes out 17 for Indy, including 13 straight

Snell 1 2-23.jpgWell, Ian Snell spent no time making his first statement since being sent down to Triple-A Indianapolis. In fact, after walking the first hitter in his start for the Tribe on Sunday, Snell proceeded to strike out the next 13 Toledo batters he faced. In a row.

The Mud Hens finally put a ball in play with one out in the fifth, when Brent Dlugach singled with one out. Snell went on to strike out 17 in seven innings. He threw 108 pitches, 70 for strikes.

“I just worked off my fastball,” Snell said afterward. “The guys made me feel welcome here.  It was just fun to see this relaxed and fun atmosphere.  Nothing against the guys up there, you know they work hard, they do everything.  I just have a lot of thoughts going through my head and I just wanted to get my thoughts together and it felt great.  I felt awesome today and they made me feel awesome.”

Snell’s only disappointment had to have been not getting the win for his stellar effort. One unearned run was charged to Snell, who allowed only two hits, and it wouldn’t be until Garrett Jones connected for a walk-off single in the 10th that Indianapolis sealed the win.

Those who saw Snell in Indy reported that his fastball sat at 94 mph and reached 96 mph at times. His slider was especially effective against right-handed hitters.

Snell’s 17 strikeouts established a new high in the International League this season. Reds pitching prospect Homer Bailey struck out 15 in six innings back in April. And Triple-A Durham (Tampa Bay) pitcher Wade Davis struck out 13 in six innings earlier this season. The 17 strikeouts also set a Victory Field (the Indians’ home park) record.

Oh, and Snell ended his day with what else but some shaving cream to the face.

“I haven’t felt like that all year,” he said. “It’s just amazing you know.  These guys are great and these guys are a bunch of goofballs and it makes you want to be here and pitch well here. These guys welcomed me with open arms and it’s just felt good to see fresh faces.  And this crowd, I loved pitching here when I was here in 2005 so it was a great feeling for me and I just enjoyed it.”

All in all, it was definitely the start that Snell needed after what has been a tumultuous week and a trying season for the right-hander. No one has ever doubted that he has the talent, now it’s just trying to maintain the mental toughness to finally let it show. 

June 25: Indians (30-43) @ Pirates (32-39); Vasquez to start Friday

UPDATE 6:55 pm: Virgil Vasquez will make the start on Friday in place of Charlie Morton. Morton is then scheduled to step into Snell’s spot in the rotation and pitch Sunday. Though Morton said he felt fine to go on Friday, this move gives the right-hander two extra days to let his left hamstring heal a bit more.

Vasquez went 5-2 with a 4.18 ERA in 14 starts with Triple-A Indianapolis. 

***

Well, the rest of the news around here certainly pales in comparison to the big move of the day, that being the Pirates’ decision to send Ian Snell to Triple-A Indianapolis. There will be much more on how this decision came about and who made it on the main website shortly (some quotes are below in the previous entry), but I wanted to set up another link here with the rest of the afternoon’s news…

  • There is still no final decision made on who Friday’s starter is going to be. Charlie Morton (strained left hamstring) continues to tell us that he feels just fine and is ready to make his start on Friday, but the staff wanted to see Morton go through some workouts this afternoon before making a final decision. We should know what’s going on before the end of the night.
  • If Morton can pitch on Friday, then Virgil Vasquez (who is on his way up from Indy as I type) will pitch in Snell’s spot on Sunday. If the Pirates want to be cautious with Morton’s situation, Vasquez will pitch tomorrow. Your Sunday starter could then be Morton.
  • Catcher Ryan Doumit was out running the bases earlier this afternoon, but the biggest news is that he has now progressed to the point where he can take batting practice in the cage. Still no word on when a rehab assignment would begin.
  • There’s a story on the main site with this information, but in case you missed it, both Brad Lincoln and Pedro Alvarez have been selected to participate in the All-Star Futures Game in St. Louis. Each organization can have up to two players selected (last year Pittsburgh had just one — Andrew McCutchen). I will be out in St. Louis covering the All-Star Game, so I’m pumped to get to see the two farm system studs play.
  • Speaking of Alvarez, he went deep again on Thursday for Double-A Altoona with a two-run shot in the first. Alvarez also doubled in the game, scored twice and drove in three.
  • As expected, catcher Tony Sanchez, the No. 4 overall pick in this summer’s Draft, has been promoted to low Single-A West Virigina. He’ll arrive on Saturday after attending the Johnny Bench award ceremony in Kansas
  • Another promotion to note: Chase d’Arnaud, the club’s fourth-round pick in last year’s Draft, has been promoted to Single-A Lynchburg. D’Arnaud recently played in the South Atlantic League All-Star Game and hit. 291 with 14 doubles, three triples, three homers and 31 RBIs in 62 games with low-A West Virginia.
  • Also worth noting that manager John Russell gave Brandon Moss the start in right on Thursday against a left-handed pitcher. Moss has gotten the day off against lefty starters all season, but it’s hard to argue that Delwyn Young and Steve Pearce (both of whom have had their defensive issues in the outfield) would be better options. As Russell joked: “It’s time to take the training wheels off.”

***

Pirates lineup:

  1. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  2. Nyjer Morgan (LF)
  3. Freddy Sanchez (2B)
  4. Adam LaRoche (1B)
  5. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  6. Brandon Moss (RF)
  7. Jason Jaramillo (C)
  8. Jack Wilson (SS)
  9. Ross Ohlendorf (RHP)

Indians lineup:

  1. Jamey Carroll (2B)
  2. Mark DeRosa (RF)
  3. Victor Martinez (1B)
  4. Shin-soo Choo (LF)
  5. Jhonny Peralta (3B)
  6. Ben Francisco (CF)
  7. Luis Valbuena (SS)
  8. Kelly Shoppach (C)
  9. Cliff Lee (LHP) 
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