Results tagged ‘ Joe Kerrigan ’

Day 3: Daily Squeeze

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Doumit and Sanchez (Small).jpgIt was nice of the sunshine to come out after the fields at Pirate City had been cleared. But regardless, it seemed to be another successful day of workouts for the club. You’ll find stories about Jeff Clement (is he making progress at first?) and the back-up catching job (yes, it is a competition) on the main site before the end of the day. But here are the rest of your tidbits for this Saturday…

  • The group of 14 pitchers that threw side sessions on Thursday had their second sides today. (Go back to your Day 1: Daily Squeeze if you want that list in full.)
  • Pitchers spent another 40 minutes in fielding drills, while infielders and outfielders had their own fielding practice as well.
  • After taking some groundballs at second base on Friday, Neil Walker was back with the third baseman for Saturday’s infield drills.
  • Garrett Jones joined the first baseman in infield practice. He’s going to get reps both at first and in the outfield. While he’s projected to be the Pirates’ starting right fielder, there could be a need to shift Jones back to first if Jeff Clement stumbles.
  • Delwyn Young arrived at Pirate City on Saturday and took the fields for workouts. He took grounders at second. Ryan Church and Aki Iwamura also went out on the fields with position players for the first time. Remember, the first full squad workout isn’t until Tuesday.
  • Pirates president Frank Coonelly was seen around the Pirate City grounds mingling with fans. He also took some time to observe the pitchers’ side sessions.
  • We (the media) had a lengthy session with pitching coach Joe Kerrigan after workouts, and you’ll see stuff from him spread out in stories over the next couple of days. One thing worth mentioning here, though, is the Pirates’ plan on getting Brendan Donnelly and Octavio Dotel ready for the season. Kerrigan said the plan isn’t to get them into Grapefruit League games immediately and to limit their work to about 11-12 innings in total. Because they are both experienced pitchers, there isn’t the same need to push Donnelly and Dotel as hard as early.
  • A couple of Kerrigan’s goals this spring are to help Brad Lincoln improve his changeup and to work with D.J. Carrasco to make him more effective against left-handed hitters. Lefty hitters batted .317 against Carrasco in 2009.
  • In case you missed it, here was a piece I did yesterday on Kevin Hart and his battle to win the final spot in the rotation. Kerrigan had this to say about Hart today: “He’s done really well this winter. He’s put a lot of hard work in. He’s been really impressive. He looks like he’s been [using that delivery motion] for a while. Last year it looked a little raw, a little rough. This year it has more of a flow to it. He’s dancing with it. He looks smooth now. There is no jerkiness. It looks natural to him now. He’s been downhill instead of flat.”
  • Workouts are scheduled to begin around 10 a.m. again on Sunday.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB 

October 4: Pirates (62-98) @ Reds (77-84); Season finale

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

It’s hard to believe that it’s been close to eight months since the team descended on Bradenton, Fla., to begin the 2009 season. Now it’s about to end here in Cincinnati in a few hours.

Instead of spending time looking back on the season here (you’ll see end of the season stories coming out on the main pirates.com site throughout the week for that), I wanted to use this forum to let you all know what to expect from me this offseason.

I am actually headed to Los Angeles tomorrow to assist with coverage of the Cardinals-Dodgers NL Division Series. Later in the month, I’ll be helping cover the World Series for MLB.com as well, wherever that might end up being. That said, you can expect to see NLDS and WS related Twitter updates from my account, and I’ll do some blog postings about it as well — likely photos and interesting anecdotes from the postseason. Obviously none of it will be Pirates related, but I hope that as baseball fans, there will be something there for you to appreciate.

My playoff duties, though, won’t stop the Pirates coverage from coming (I just won’t sleep, that’s all). Here’s some of what you can expect this offseason:

  • Through October, you should likely find at least three new Pirates stories on the site every week. That count will likely rise to at least four or five a week after the postseason comes to an end.
  • Obviously, news will always be on there, but I’ve also got some features and series that prepared to for the site. There will soon be a seven-part series that highlights the highs and lows of each Minor League affiliate this season. Also, as everyone starts to look ahead to 2010, I have a number of stories ready to give you regarding position battles, position changes, the free agent market and the overall outlook. Arizona Fall League and winter ball updates will also come out weekly once those leagues get into full swing.
  • I’d like to give you all an Inbox edition every week, assuming I get enough questions to stay afloat. I know your minds wander as the free agent market develops, so this will be a good means for interaction between you all and me. Inbox questions can be sent to me at Jenifer.Langosch@MLB.com. Don’t forget to include your first name, last initial and hometown. Also, it would be a big help if you put “Inbox” in the subject line.
  • This blog will continue to be updated regularly and I’ll use my Twitter account all offseason, too, especially for breaking news. If you are not already a follower, the account name is @LangoschMLB.

I think that hits the most important points for the time being. Thanks to all of you who have stuck around as faithful blog followers through a trying season. Hope this blog was able to supplement the coverage to your liking, and if you have any suggestions on how I continue using it moving forward, I’m always willing to listen.

Enjoy game No. 161.

As for today’s news, notes and randomness…

  • Catcher Ryan Doumit is out of the lineup on Sunday because of that minor concussion he sustained on Friday. Doumit had his mask knocked off on a foul tip, stayed in the game, but was a little woozy afterward. He did not play on Saturday either. Assuming he won’t get in Sunday as a pinch hitter, Doumit finishes the season with a .250 average, 10 homers and 38 RBIs.
  • There has still been no decision made about whether first base coach Perry Hill will return for another season with the team. Expect that decision to be made in the next few days.
  • GM Neal Huntington said that Jose Ascanio, at best, would be able to begin his rehab program from right shoulder surgery in four months. He is not expected to be ready at the start of the season. June 1, Huntington said, would be a more realistic, though still optimistic, date. 
  • The Pirates’ errorless game on Saturday was their 100th such game this season. That sets a franchise record. The previous high was 99 games in 2007. The Pirates also have made the fewest amount of errors (73) in the Majors. That, too, is a franchise low.
  • The Pirates enter this game 62-98, while the Orioles are 63-98. Why is this important? The two are battling it out for Draft picks No. 2 and 3. If the Pirates lose OR the Orioles win, the Pirates will pick second next summer. The only way the Orioles would get that No. 2 pick is if the Pirates win AND the Orioles lose.
  • With Anthony Claggett’s appearance on Saturday (1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER), the Pirates finish the 2009 season with 49 different players used. That ties a club record. The team used 26 pitchers, also tying a club record.
  • The Pirates will hold two conditioning camps (one in November, one in December) this offseason, as well as their January mini-camp. Also, players will have the opportunity to go travel to see Joe Kerrigan, Don Long and Hill (if he returns) this offseason for specialized work.
  • 182: That’s the number of days until the Pirates’ April 5 season opener against the Dodgers at PNC Park. Get your winter coats and ski caps ready, folks.
  • And here are some dates to get you through the next few months: MLB General Manager’s Meetings (Nov. 9-11), MLB Winter Meetings (Dec. 7-10), Pirates Mini Camp (Jan. 12-16), Pirates Caravan and PirateFest (Jan. 24-31).

Pirates lineup:

  1. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  2. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  3. Garrett Jones (1B)
  4. Lastings Milledge (LF)
  5. Brandon Moss (RF)
  6. Delwyn Young (2B)
  7. Robinzon Diaz (C)
  8. Luis Cruz (SS)
  9. Jeff Karstens (RHP)

Reds lineup:

  1. Drew Stubbs (CF)
  2. Paul Janish (SS)
  3. Joey Votto (1B)
  4. Brandon Phillips (2B)
  5. Scott Rolen (3B)
  6. Jay Bruce (RF)
  7. Laynce Nix (LF)
  8. Corky Miller (C)
  9. Homer Bailey (RHP)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB     

October 1: Pirates (61-97) @ Cubs (82-76)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

I certainly won’t promise you that there is going to be a game here at Wrigley Field tonight. It’s currently raining — hard — and it’s not supposed to really let up until tomorrow. If they cancel this game it will not be made up, meaning that the Pirates will have an even better chance at avoiding a 100-loss season.

Really, raise your hand if you thought a week ago when the Pirates were 56-95 with four games remaining against the Dodgers, four more at Wrigley and another four against the Reds (who have won eight straight against Pittsburgh) that the team had any shot at avoiding 100 losses this year. I don’t see any hands raised. Didn’t think so.

It’s worth giving credit where it’s due and this team deserves it. It has won five of seven against 1) the team with the best record in the NL and 2) in a place where wins have been few and far between in recent years.

And here’s your picture of Wrigley Field as it looks now:

 

IMG00108.jpgAs for today’s news, notes and randomness…

  • If tonight’s game is banged, the Pirates would just push back their rotation to finish the season. That means that Paul Maholm would pitch Friday, Daniel McCutchen would go Saturday and Zach Duke would close the season with a start on Sunday.
  • If this game is played tonight, Sunday’s starter remains TBA. It would fall on Kevin Hart’s day to pitch, but the club has still not decided if Hart will make another start. Management has talked for some time now about Hart approaching a pitch count limit, and with his inefficient outing earlier this week, he might just be there. Manager John Russell said that he will meet with pitching coach Joe Kerrigan and GM Neal Huntington on Friday to determine whether or not Hart goes again.
  • Still no Ronny Cedeno in the lineup, and Russell sounded hesitant when asked if he expected to see his shortstop back in the lineup before the season ends. He didn’t rule it out, though.
  • Russell and Huntington continue to conduct “exit interviews” of sorts. These are year-end meetings with each player in which they talk about 2009 and what the expectations are for the offseason and 2010.
  • If the Pirates win on Thursday or if the game is cancelled, that would mean a series win on the road for Pittsburgh. The team might not remember what that is considering the Pirates have gone 0-16-1 in their road series since beating the Nationals in three of four games back in mid-May.
  • The Pirates’ recent resurgence has been led by its pitching, which has combined to allow only six earned runs in 35 innings over the last four games. The relievers are perfect in 8 1/3 innings of relief.
  • And here’s one from those good folks at the Elias Sports Bureau, who I’m convinced can’t possibly have a life: The Pirates’ 4-0 win over the Cubs in Game 1 on Wednesday marked the team’s largest margin of victory ever in a game where they scored all of their runs in the first inning and pitched a shutout. I had to read through that a few times before it processed. You might try that approach, too.
  • And another from our friends at Elias: On Wednesday, Ryan Doumit became just the second Pittsburgh catcher in the last 40 years to have at least four hits and four RBIs in the same game. Jason Kendall had four hits and five RBIs in May 2000.

Pirates lineup:

  1. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  2. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  3. Garrett Jones (1B)
  4. Ryan Doumit (C)
  5. Lastings Milledge (LF)
  6. Brandon Moss (RF)
  7. Delwyn Young (2B)
  8. Ramon Vazquez (SS)
  9. Paul Maholm (LHP)

Cubs lineup:

  1. Ryan Theriot (SS)
  2. So Taguchi (LF)
  3. Derrek Lee (1B) Aramis Ramirez (3B)
  4. Aramis Ramirez (3B) Jake Fox (1B)
  5. Jeff Baker (2B)
  6. Reed Johnson (RF)
  7. Geovany Soto (C)
  8. Sam Fuld (CF)
  9. Jeff Samardzija (RHP)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB    

September 29: Pirates (59-96) @ Cubs (81-74); Kerrigan returning as pitching coach; Donnelly not asked back; Claggett joins team

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

I’m going to keep this somewhat brief so that I can get working on a handful of stories for the main pirates.com site. Those will go into more detail than I will here, so look for those later this evening. But here’s the important news to come out of what has turned out to be a newsy day for us here in Chicago:

  • Pitching coach Joe Kerrigan confirmed that he will return to the organization in 2010. He would not divulge the length of his new contract, though it is believed that it’s short (likely just one year again).
  • Instructor/advisor Rich Donnelly will not be coming back next season, a decision made not by Donnelly, but by the organization. GM Neal Huntington explained that the Pirates will look to fill that seventh coaching position with a more pitching-minded coach and one that can ideally be a successor to Kerrigan in the near future. Huntington said this was a decision dictated more by direction than by performance.
  • Also, manager John Russell went into more depth about his decision to pull Zach Duke from Monday’s game despite Duke being one out away from his fourth complete game of the season. The decision, Russell explained, was made by he and Kerrigan back in the sixth that once Duke gave up a run, that would be it. It just so happened that that came with two outs in the ninth. More on that to come on the main site. 

As for the other news, notes and randomness…

  • Right-hander Anthony Claggett has joined the team for this final stretch, giving the Pirates an extra arm out of the bullpen — something that they’ll need with the double header on Wednesday and no true starter for the second game. Claggett, who pitched in an instructional league game after being claimed off waivers by the Pirates last week, is likely to only be available for an inning stint.
  • The Pirates are still hopeful that shortstop Ronny Cedeno will be able to return from a nagging hamstring injury and start again before the season ends, though it’s not guaranteed that he will. Right now the situation is still a day-to-day one.
  • The Pirates are 1-16 in their last 17 road games. If the team wants to avoid the 100-loss mark, that means it will have to win at least four of these last seven games on the road. The Pirates have won just three road games since the All-Star break.
  • Not the nicest of days here Chicago, as overcast skies and winter weather has rolled in. I guess it is officially fall in these parts.
  • The Cubs are 9-2 against the Pirates this year, with a 4-1 record at Wrigley Field. In the last two seasons, the Bucs have won just six of 29 games against Chicago’s North Side team.

Pirates lineup:

  1. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  2. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  3. Garrett Jones (1B)
  4. Ryan Doumit (C)
  5. Lastings Milledge (LF)
  6. Brandon Moss (RF)
  7. Delwyn Young (2B)
  8. Luis Cruz (SS)
  9. Kevin Hart (RHP)

Cubs lineup:

  1. Ryan Theriot (SS)
  2. Kosuke Fukudome (RF)
  3. Derrek Lee (1B)
  4. Micah Hoffpauir (LF)
  5. Jeff Baker (3B)
  6. Mike Fontenot (2B)
  7. Geovany Soto (C)
  8. Sam Fuld (CF)
  9. Ryan Dempster (RHP)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB  

September 18: Padres (66-81) @ Pirates (55-89); UPDATE: Andy LaRoche scratched

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

If you’re reading this, you must be a diehard. Well, or else you’re my mom. It’s been a rough two months for the Pirates (the team has won just 12 of 48 games since July 25) and there’s really been little in the way for fans to get excited about. Of course, Andrew McCutchen, Ross Ohlendorf and Garrett Jones have given you a hopeful glimmer of the future, but being that this is a game that is ultimately results-oriented, it’s been a trying stretch for all.

Maybe you’re still reading this because you’re eager to see how the player development continues. Maybe you’re curious as to whether this team will hit 100 losses. Maybe you, too, hate the kansas jayhawks and so you feel some sort of attachment to me (my personal thanks to those who fit into this category). Or maybe you’re trying to find a distraction at work and this is the best you can do.

Whatever the reason, hope you can find some nuggets on the blog during these final 18 days to satisfy whatever your level of interest is. Don’t worry, I’ll still be writing. And maybe the Pirates will treat you faithful fans to some wins.

As for today’s news, notes and randomness…

  • UPDATE: Andy LaRoche is sick and has been scratched from Friday’s lineup about an hour and a half before game time. As a result, Ronny Cedeno moves up in the lineup and is hitting second. Neil Walker will bat seventh and play third. 
  • Second baseman Delwyn Young remains out of the lineup on Friday since his back is still tight. He’s doing some light work this afternoon to see if he can at least be cleared to pinch hit. It’s just a day-to-day injury right now, but one that manager John Russell did not contribute to the amount of extra work that Young has been putting in with infield coach Perry Hill in recent weeks.
  • Speaking of the Hill-Young duo, Russell said the Pirates have plans to send Young to the coach’s home 2-3 times this offseason to get in some extra work. The organization is also considering sending other infielders to Hill as well, though Young was the only one named on Friday.
  • Even with those plans, Hill has not yet confirmed that he is actually returning to the organization. On Friday, Russell reiterated that he would like both Hill and pitching coach Joe Kerrigan to return next season, though neither coach has yet to commit.
  • Jose Ascanio threw another side session on Friday and looks to be about a week out from throwing to live hitters in a simulated game. The Pirates are then hopeful of getting him back for the final week of the season. Whether or not Ascanio will pitch somewhere this winter has not yet been determined. But it is being considered.
  • Evan Meek is back in Pittsburgh and will be with the team at least through this homestand. He has resumed throwing and will continue to pitch bullpen sessions.
  • In case you missed it, the Pirates’ high-A affiliate in Lynchburg took home the Carolina League Championship on Thursday. A full recap of the final game can be found here.  
  • Pedro Alvarez’s three-homer game for Team USA in a World Cup game on Thursday set a USA Baseball World Cup record. Prior to Alvarez’s day, 12 USA baseball players had homered twice in a World Cup game.
  • Paul Maholm will be honored prior to Friday’s game for being the club’s Roberto Clemente Award nominee.

Pirates lineup:

  1. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  2. Andy LaRoche (3B) Ronny Cedeno (SS)
  3. Garrett Jones (1B)
  4. Ryan Doumit (C)
  5. Lastings Milledge (LF)
  6. Brandon Moss (RF)
  7. Ronny Cedeno (SS) Neil Walker (3B)
  8. Ramon Vazquez (2B)
  9. Charlie Morton (RHP)

Padres lineup:

  1. Everth Cabrera (SS)
  2. David Eckstein (2B)
  3. Adrian Gonzalez (1B)
  4. Chase Headley (3B)
  5. Will Venable (RF)
  6. Drew Macias (LF)
  7. Nick Hundley (C)
  8. Tony Gwynn Jr. (CF)
  9. Tim Stauffer (RHP)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

September 15: Pirates (55-87) @ Dodgers (86-59)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

For all those fans already looking forward to next year, you can officially start. Major League Baseball released its composite 2010 schedule on Tuesday, which has the Pirates opening at home this season with an April 5 game against the Dodgers.

Everyone always wants to know about the Interleague matchups, so here those are for you: at Detroit (June 11-13), vs. White Sox (June 15-17), vs. Cleveland (June 18-20), at Texas (June 22-24), at Oakland (June 25-28).

The full story on the schedule can be found here.

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

  • Delwyn Young remains out of the lineup on Tuesday as he continues to deal with some lower back tightness. Manager John Russell said it’s doubtful, though not ruled out, that Young could be used as a pinch hitter in the series. However, he likely won’t start again until Friday at the earliest.
  • Righty Brad Lincoln led Team USA to another World Cup win on Tuesday. Lincoln allowed one run on six hits and struck out five in 7 1/3 innings as USA defeated Japan, 4-2. The US team is now 3-0 in the second round of pool play and looks sure to advance to the final round of the tournament.
  • Third baseman Pedro Alvarez went 1-for-3 in Tuesday’s World Cup game and is now a combined 4-for-23 in tournament play.
  • Players were busy voting in the clubhouse today for end-of-the-season awards. The Players’ Association had players voting for Player’s Choice Award. Sporting News award voting was also going on.
  • Producer Ron Howard is expected to be at the stadium to watch the Pirates take BP this afternoon. He is will be a guest of pitching coach Joe Kerrigan.
  • The Pirates currently have 12 rookies on the team’s roster, which is tied for third-most in the Majors. The Padres have 14 and the Reds have 13. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the club is the second-youngest in the Majors behind the Indians.

Pirates lineup:

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

Dodgers lineup:

  1. Rafael Furcal (SS)
  2. Russell Martin (C)
  3. Andre Ethier (RF)
  4. Manny Ramirez (LF)
  5. Matt Kemp (CF)
  6. Casey Blake (3B)
  7. Mark Loretta (1B)
  8. Orlando Hudson (2B)
  9. Randy Wolf (LHP)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

August 16: Pirates (46-70) @ Cubs (60-55)

As the Pirates get ready for one more game at Wrigley on Sunday, Pirates president Frank Coonelly continues to make his presence known. Coonelly has been in Chicago with a group of corporate sponsors all weekend, but over the last two days he has spent plenty of time in and around the Pirates clubhouse.

He spoke with manager John Russell on both Saturday and Sunday and has been engaged in conversations with numerous players, including former Pirates pitcher John Grabow just a bit ago. Coonelly arrived at Wrigley on the team bus this morning, grabbed some breakfast in the clubhouse with players, stood alongside bullpen coach Luis Dorante during Paul Maholm’s bullpen session and spoke at length with pitching coach Joe Kerrigan afterward.

Why do I bring this up? Because I think it makes a statement. I don’t know Coonelly’s exact intent or purpose behind being so involved with the club over the last three days, but I would imagine he would like the team to be aware of the fact that he is watching. Coonelly has made it no secret that he has been disappointed with the Major League results this season (who hasn’t?) and his being an active presence should be a reminder that these 25 players (and the coaching staff) have plenty of eyes on them these last few weeks even though there is not playoff chase.

As for today’s news, notes and randomness…

  • Lefty Donnie Veal will begin his rehab assignment in Double-A Altoona on Tuesday. He likely will be ready to come off the DL as soon as his 15-day stint is completed, but don’t be surprised if the organization waits until Sept. 1 (i.e. September call-ups) to reinstate him.
  • Outfielder Brandon Moss is back in the lineup on Sunday (replacing Lastings Milledge) and could really use a decent offensive showing to get back on track. Since August 3, Moss is just 3-for-22.
  • With a win on Saturday, Triple-A Indianapolis reached the .500 mark for the first time this season. They are 60-60.
  • Starter Daniel McCutchen earned the win in that game for Indy, as he went six shutout innings. McCutchen walked two, struck out five and allowed five hits.
  • First baseman Steve Pearce, who earned a top 10 SportsCenter web gem on Saturday for those of you who missed it, has quietly put together a nice streak at the plate. Pearce has reached base safely in 11 straight games and in 17 of 19 since being recalled from Triple-A.
  • Double-A third baseman Pedro Alvarez is leading the Eastern League with a .440 batting average and 22 hits in August. His 23 home runs this season is also an organizational high. Garrett Jones has 22 combined from Triple-A and the Majors.
  • The Pirates are 3-9 at Wrigley Field since the start of the 200 season. That explains why I feel like every time I’m here that I leave with that “Go Cubs Go” song stuck in my head.

Pirates lineup:

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

Cubs lineup:

  1. Kosuke Fukudome (CF)
  2. Milton Bradley (RF)
  3. Derrek Lee (1B)
  4. Aramis Ramirez (3B)
  5. Jake Fox (LF)
  6. Mike Fontenot (2B)
  7. Geovany Soto (C)
  8. Aaron Miles (SS)
  9. Rich Harden (RHP)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

August 15: Pirates (46-69) @ Cubs (59-55); Bixler recalled, Bautista selected, Salazar DFAed, Ascanio to DL

Well, we have quite the checklist to go through on this early morning in Chicago… Since Friday’s 17-2 trouncing by the Cubs, the Pirates have made four roster moves. Right-hander Denny Bautista and shortstop-turned-utilityman Brian Bixler walked into the clubhouse at about 9:30 CT this morning, fresh off a flight from Columbus, Ohio, where the Triple-A Indians are playing a series.

Bautista takes a spot in the bullpen that was freed up by having to place righty Jose Ascanio on the disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis. Manager John Russell said that Ascanio first start feeling some soreness during his Aug. 11 appearance in Colorado and continued to feel the tightness while throwing lightly on Friday.

The Pirates have had all sorts of issues keeping their bullpen arms healthy this year. Craig Hansen hasn’t pitched since April and is out for the year. Tyler Yates is out for the season after having to undergo Tommy John surgery in July. Evan Meek suffered a left oblique strain already on this road trip. Donnie Veal is just returning to throwing after being sidelined with a sprained left index finger. And Phil Dumatrait is finishing up a rehab assignment in Triple-A, though he is expected to join the Pirates’ bullpen next Friday.

Bautista had a 4.88 ERA in 36 appearances with Indianapolis this season. In 48 innings, Bautista struck out 58 and walked 34. It’s that control that plagued Bautista during his time with the Major League club last season.

With Bautista needing to get on the 40-man roster and that roster full, the Pirates were forced to designated outfielder Jeff Salazar for assignment. The Pirates now have 10 days to trade, release or outright Salazar to the Minors if he passes through waivers. Salazar went 1-for-26 with the Pirates, playing primarily as a pinch hitter.

Salazar’s exit led to Bixler’s entrance, as the Pirates needed to call up a position player already on the team’s 40-man roster. Bixler has recently been converted to a utility player, splitting time at short, second and in center field since the beginning of July. In all, Bixler has started 60 games at short, 24 at second and 11 in center since the start of the season.

Bixler is not expected to get substantial playing time, though Russell said he hopes that Bixler’s recent offensive success in Triple-A will be sustained off the bench here. Bixler had a 15-game hitting streak with Indianapolis at the time of the call up and had hit .335 since July 1. He was recently named Indianapolis’ July Player of the Month.

Phew… got all that?

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

  • Pitching coach Joe Kerrigan and Charlie Morton, who gave up 10 runs in his one-inning start here on Friday, had a lengthy discussion early this morning out on the bullpen mound. They also talked at length Friday afternoon after Morton met with the media postgame.
  • Veal threw his second side session on Saturday, with Russell watching. Veal is still expected to be reexamined in Pittsburgh on Monday. 
  • Catcher Ryan Doumit is back in the lineup after a two-game hiatus. Doumit’s right wrist is said to be just fine.
  • Luis Cruz is getting a start at second and Ramon Vazquez is getting the start at third this afternoon. Just a day off for Andy LaRoche and Delwyn Young, so nothing more there.
  • This isn’t a pretty stat: The Pirates are just 4-52 when trailing after six innings. That doesn’t say much for late-inning comeback chances.
  • Saturday is Zach Duke’s fourth go at 10 wins, though had he had some bullpen and offensive help, he’d be well past that mark already. He’s had some success at Wrigley Field, though not recently. In his first five starts here, Duke went 3-1 with a 1.43. In his last two, he’s 0-2 wiht a 6.33 ERA. His last win at Wrigley: May 2, 2006.
  • Double-A third baseman Pedro Alvarez went 3-for-3 with a home run for Altoona on Friday night. The homer was his 23rd of the season. Alvarez has hit .468 in August.
  • Lefty Daniel Moskos pitched eight strong innings in that Double-A game. He allowed two runs on five hits and struck out eight. The start was the longest of his career.

Pirates lineup:

  1. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  2. Lastings Milledge (LF)
  3. Garrett Jones (RF)
  4. Ryan Doumit (C)
  5. Steve Pearce (1B)
  6. Ronny Cedeno (SS)
  7. Ramon Vazquez (3B)
  8. Luis Cruz (2B)
  9. Zach Duke (LHP)

Cubs lineup:

  1. Ryan Theriot (SS)
  2. Milton Bradley (RF)
  3. Derrek Lee (1B)
  4. Jake Fox (3B)
  5. Jeff Baker (2B)
  6. Alfonso Soriano (LF)
  7. Geovany Soto (C)
  8. Sam Fuld (CF)
  9. Tom Gorzelanny (LHP) 

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB 

August 3: Nationals (33-72) @ Pirates (45-59)

Back on the beat and spent part of the afternoon introducing myself to the number of new faces in the clubhouse. It’s a plenty different clubhouse than it was at this time last year, but for all that these guys have gone through, you do have to commend how upbeat most of them are.

Phil Dumatrait also made a guest appearance in the home clubhouse on Monday afternoon. He’ll actually be around through Wednesday before going to Triple-A Indianapolis for his next rehab start on Thursday. He is not throwing a side session (because of the timing) in front of pitching coach Joe Kerrigan while he’s here.

As for todays news, notes and randomness…

  • After starting at first during both of the games this weekend, Garrett Jones is back in right field. That gives Steve Pearce a chance to start at first on Monday. It seems like the Pirates are going to give Pearce and Brandon Moss a fairly equal amount of at-bats for now, just shifting Jones from right to first to do so. Said manager John Russell in his pregame session: “We need to make sure somebody doesn’t sit too long. We still like Brandon. We’ll find ways to keep Brandon in the lineup and continue to get Steve Pearce some at-bats, too. To get an extended look, we don’t have to play him seven days a week. We still believe in what Brandon’s done. We don’t want to get him stale.”
  • Ryan Doumit enters Monday’s game on an 0-for-15 skid. That streak comes after he hit safely in seven consecutive games.
  • On Monday, RHP Kevin Hart threw his second bullpen session in front of Kerrigan. All reports were good, and Hart is scheduled to make his Pittsburgh debut against Arizona on Thursday.
  • Double-A starter Daniel Moskos has been placed on the disabled list because of a blister on his left index finger. Moskos is 8-8 with a 3.81 ERA in 21 appearances (20 starts) for the Curve this season.
  • Jones was selected as one of six finalists for MLB.com’s Pepsi Clutch Player of the Month for July. To vote for the award, go here.
  • More on Jones: MLB’s Player of the Month and Rookie of the Month awards will be announced on Tuesday. Jones, who led all players with 10 homers and a .700 slugging percentage in July, is expected to get strong consideration for both.
  • The last Pirates player to earn a Player of the Month honor was Jason Bay back in 2006.
  • The Pirates have outhomered opponents 18-6 in the last 10 games played at PNC Park.
  • Steven Jackson joined the team on Sunday and is now available out of the ‘pen. Russell will use him primarily in situations where he needs a groundball, much as Russell did during Jackson’s stint with the Pirates earlier this season.
  • The Pirates announced today that they will host “Fabulous Casino Night” this Sunday at the Lexus Club at PNC Park. The event begins at 7 p.m. ET and will be hosted by John Russell and his wife, Jamie. President Frank Coonelly and other players will also be present at the event. For a donation of $150, you can get $500 in “play” money. Food and drinks will be free. For more information and to reserve your spot, go here. All proceeds will go to Pirates Charities and the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Pennsylvania.

Pirates lineup:

  1. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  2. Lastings Milledge (LF)
  3. Garrett Jones (RF)
  4. Ryan Doumit (C)
  5. Steve Pearce (1B)
  6. Delwyn Young (2B)
  7. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  8. Ronny Cedeno (SS)
  9. Charlie Morton (RHP)

Nationals lineup:

  1. Nyjer Morgan (CF)
  2. Christian Guzman (SS)
  3. Ryan Zimmerman (3B)
  4. Adam Dunn (1B)
  5. Josh Willingham (LF)
  6. Elijah Dukes (RF)
  7. Josh Bard (C)
  8. Alberto Gonzalez (2B)
  9. Garrett Mock (RHP) 

Snell's starting status now in flux

So when I spoke with general manager Neal Huntington before coming to the ballpark early Wednesday afternoon, he confirmed that Ian Snell would make his start on Sunday even after his troubling results on Tuesday night.

That’s not necessarily the case now.

After Wednesday’s game, a baseball source confirmed with MLB.com that management is still in discussions regarding Snell’s status and that the right-hander might not actually make his next start afterall.

So apparently, we can all scratch that earlier confirmation.

I’m not quite sure what in the last few hours might have caused management to reconsider its earlier stance, but I do know that nothing is a guarantee now. Snell did work on some mechanical adjustments with pitching coach Joe Kerrigan earlier in the day, which could mean that the Pirates would like Snell to skip a start to continue to work out these mechanical issues. 

Or he could be moved to the bullpen. Or he could be sent to Triple-A to work out his problems there (Snell has one option remaining, so he could be sent down without any problem).

The Pirates have plenty of candidates to jump into Snell’s rotation spot if needed. Virgil Vasquez was being held back to start on Friday in case Charlie Morton can’t (that still is TBD). And Tom Gorzelanny and Daniel McCutchen are seen as Major League options as well. Too, there’s always Jeff Karstens, who could be moved back to the rotation.

Huntington expressed evident frustration with Snell’s consistent inconsistency this season earlier on Wednesday, so maybe it shouldn’t come as much as a surprise that management is reconsidering whether or not Snell can work out his problems without any sort of change. As Huntington pointed out, there have been flickers of promise at times this year. But at the same time, it’s impossible to ignore the 11-27 record and 5.24 ERA Snell has since the midway point of the 2007 season.    

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