Results tagged ‘ John Bowker ’

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

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

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

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

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

As for news and notes of the day…

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

Lineups:

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

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

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Game 31: Pirates (14-16) @ Padres (12-18)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

I wasn’t covering the game last night, but I found one post-game comment from manager Clint Hurdle particularly interesting and figured we could revisit it briefly. Asked about Brandon Wood’s attempt to move to third with one out on a ball in the dirt, Hurdle had this to say (by the way, Wood was thrown out): “You’re already in scoring position. If you’re safe, we’re happy, but he pushed the envelope a little bit and the catcher made a nice play. It put a damper on an inning with a chance to tie it.”

Maybe it’s not the smartest decision that could have been made, but I certainly saw more of a benefit of trying to be aggressive in this instance than the one lauded by Hurdle on Easter Sunday — you remember, Andrew McCutchen trying to score on a sacrifice fly with the team down by three. If Wood had been able to make it to third, there would have been a number of ways for him to score the tying run.

As it turns out, neither baserunning decision looked all that sensible because of the outcome. Hurdle will continue to preach aggressive baserunning. Moving forward, though, it will be interesting to see which instances he praises and which he criticizes.

A few news and notes…

  • Outfielder John Bowker has cleared waivers and been assigned to Triple-A Indianapolis. Know that this is not what Bowker wanted. He made it plenty clear the night he was told he was being sent out that he was hoping to be picked up by another club. Turns out he’s now additional outfield depth for the Pirates, who already have Alex Presley, Gorkys Hernandez and Andrew Lambo in Triple-A.
  • Pedro Alvarez is not in Wednesday’s starting lineup. He exited Tuesday’s game with tightness in his right quad and said there was enough tightness still on Wednesday not to want to test it with any exercises.
  • Outfielder Jose Tabata was out running sprints and routes in the outfield this afternoon — certainly a good sign for as he tries to make his way back from hamstring tightness. Tabata will be available “in a limited role” for Wednesday’s game, Hurdle said.
  • For anyone who might have watched Tuesday’s game and is curious, the bunt down the third base line that neither Joe Beimel or Wood went for late in the game was supposed to be Wood’s ball. The infielders had been told on a mound meeting just before the bunt that the play was to go to first. And the coverage was yelled from the dugout right after. “For whatever reason, when the ball was hit, he took a step back and went to the base,” Hurdle said. “He missed his coverage. There was no way to make any excuses for him.”
  • Righty Ross Ohlendorf will throw another session of live batting practice on Friday, and, assuming all goes well, then move onto a Minor League rehab start. The club hasn’t announced how many rehab outings are in order for Ohlendorf, but given his time missed, I’d expect it to be at least two.
  • Today is a homecoming of sorts for Kevin Correia — though he is entirely downplaying his first start back at PETCO Park since leaving the Padres. You can read his thoughts here.
  • This afternoon’s Pirates-Padres game (6:35 pm ET start) is the MLB.TV free game of the day. So if you’re not in the Pittsburgh market and rarely get to see the Pirates live, today is your chance.
  • If you’re interested here is the feature column I wrote on San Francisco hitting coach Bam Bam Meulens for MLB.com. Many of you might remember that Meulens served as a hitting instructor in the Pirates’ Minor League system for a few years. And if that’s not reason enough for you to want to read, maybe this will be: Bam Bam is going to be an astronaut.

Lineups:

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

PADRES: J. Bartlett (SS), W. Venable (RF), R. Ludwick (LF), C. Headley (3B), C. Maybin (CF), B. Hawpe (1B), N. Hundley (C), E. Patterson (2B), C. Richard (LHP)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Game 23: Giants (10-11) @ Pirates (10-12)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The defending World Series champs are in town, which means former Pirates Freddy Sanchez and Javier Lopez are visiting for the next three days. Oh, and it’s been raining. Weather could be a factor each of the next two days.

News and notes…

  • In case you missed it, the Pirates claimed Xavier Paul off waivers today from the Dodgers. He’s an outfielder, so you’d have to think that either John Bowker or Steve Pearce are going to be on their way out soon. More on that here.
  • Paul is likely to arrive in Pittsburgh either Wednesday or Thursday. He has 72 hours to report, so technically he could also meet the team in Colorado on Friday.
  • Ross Ohlendorf will throw his first bullpen session on Wednesday. He threw from a distance of 120 feet today. Ohlendorf will throw 2-3 bullpens and then a live batting practice session. Once he gets through all those steps, he’ll begin a Minor League rehab assignment that will likely last one or two starts.
  • In case you missed it last night, it was confirmed that Jameson Taillon (No. 2 overall pick in 2010) will make his professional debut on Wednesday. He is joining the low-A West Virginia rotation. And as the schedule would have it, Taillon will be facing Bryce Harper’s Hagerstown team. So it’ll be No. 1 vs. No. 2.
  • Manager Clint Hurdle mentioned yesterday that he wanted to find a day off for Jose Tabata and Neil Walker pretty soon. For Tabata, that day ended up being Tuesday. Matt Diaz moves to left and Garrett Jones sticks in right. Walker’s day off will have to wait, though Brandon Wood is spelling Ronny Cedeno a day.
  • With his save on Monday, Joel Hanrahan is 6-for-6 in save opportunities this month. The last Pittsburgh closer with more than six April saves was Salomon Torres. He had eight in April 2007.
  • Right-hander Jose Ascanio (who was struck in the head by a line drive last Friday) returned to the mound for Triple-A Indianapolis on Monday. It was not a stellar outing (1 1/3 IP, 2 H, 4 ER, 1 HR, 2 BB), but certainly a good sign that he was OK after a scary incident.
  • All-Star ballots have been released and you can find more information on how to vote online here. This year’s game will be played in Phoenix.

Lineups:

PIRATES: A. McCutchen (CF), M. Diaz (LF), L. Overbay (1B), N. Walker (2B), G. Jones (RF), R. Doumit (C), P. Alvarez (3B), B. Wood (SS), C. Morton (RHP)

GIANTS: A. Rowand (CF), F. Sanchez (2B), A. Huff (1B), B. Posey (C), P. Sandoval (3B), P. Burrell (LF), C. Ross (RF), M. Tejada (SS), M. Cain (RHP)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Day 43: Pirates @ Twins

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

This is it, folks. Later this afternoon the players will board a flight to Philadelphia. And I will board a flight to Pittsburgh. I am so looking forward to getting back home for 48 hours, regardless of how cold it might be.

I will not be covering the pair of games in Philly, though someone will be there to take care of news. I will rejoin the club in Chicago on Thursday for the day-before-Opening-Day workout and then look forward to being with you for the next six months.

One other note: You might have already noticed that pirates.com underwent a site redesign overnight.  I hope you find the site easier to navigate. One omission, however, is a link to the blog in the headlines section. I’m not sure if that is going to change, so if you are a frequent blog reader and haven’t already, it might be a good idea to bookmark this page.

As for your last Spring Training morning news/notes…

  • Jeff Karstens is scheduled to pitch five innings (80 pitches) today in an effort to make sure that he would be ready to start the year in the rotation if needed. Karstens is a Plan B option in case James McDonald isn’t yet ready on April 5.
  • Speaking of McDonald, he threw a bullpen session this morning without any problems. Next for McDonald will be an outing on Thursday. The goal will be five innings. After that game, the Pirates will know whether McDonald will be able to start the season in the big league rotation.
  • It looks as if the Pirates will not make their final roster moves until the club is in Philadelphia. That means the bullpen remains unsettled.
  • In case you missed it yesterday, Josh Rodriguez is on the team and Pedro Ciriaco will begin the year in Triple-A. Also, because it appears as if Chris Snyder is headed to the DL, outfielder John Bowker and Jason Jaramillo win the final bench spots.
  • Might I say that seeing kU lose to VCU yesterday absolutely made my day/weekend/year. That said, our Bucs Bits Bloggers bracket challenge has most of us left with not a single correct Final Four pick (yes, I fit in this category). The current leader is D. Hague.

Lineups:

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

Pitchers: J. Karstens, G. Olson, C. Resop

TWINS: D. Span (CF), T. Nishioka (2B), J. Mauer (C), J. Morneau (1B), J. Kubel (DH), D. Young (LF), M. Cuddyer (RF), D. Valencia (3B), A. Casilla (SS)

Pitchers: F. Liriano

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Snyder likely to begin year on DL

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

GM Neal Huntington said it is “very probable” that Chris Snyder will begin the year on the disabled list. Snyder continues to deal with back soreness, and though he said he is improving, the Pirates can’t risk beginning the season with a catcher who isn’t close to 100 percent.

With Snyder headed to the DL, Jason Jaramillo and Ryan Doumit will be the team’s two catchers. This also means that outfielder John Bowker will win the final bench spot, which could have gone to a third catcher if the team had opted to keep one.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Rodriguez in, Ciriaco out?

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The Pirates have posted their lineup for Monday’s final Grapefruit League game and perhaps it provides a glimpse into the club’s upcoming roster decisions. In the lineup is Josh Rodriguez (who will be playing 3B); not listed as either a starter or a reserve is Pedro Ciriaco.

Could this mean that Rule 5 pick Rodriguez is going to stick and the Pirates are preparing to send Ciriaco to Triple-A? The Pirates are going to take one or the other, but not both. The club hasn’t announced such a roster move, but you have to wonder if that’s coming.

Also not listed on the lineup card is John Bowker.

Here’s what was scribbled on the bulletin board:

STARTERS
J. Tabata (LF)
N. Walker (2B)
A. McCutchen (CF)
R. Doumit (DH)
S. Pearce (1B)
M. Diaz (RF)
R. Cedeno (SS)
J. Rodriguez (3B)
J. Jaramillo (C)

RESERVES
L. Overbay
P. Alvarez
G. Jones

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Yankees 4, Pirates 2

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Most everything you are going to want to read today is written fairly in-depth on the main site. So let me give you those links first:

 ***

You won’t find Kevin Correia complaining much about his start on Saturday — a start in which he threw 92 pitches (59 strikes) in six innings. This was his first six-inning outing of the spring, and it puts Correia in perfect position to be ready for his Opening Day start next Friday.

The results were pretty good, too. He served up a two-run homer to Alex Rodriguez in the first inning after narrowly missing with a two-strike slider to Mark Teixeira right before. Correia then limited the Yankees (who played mostly their “A” lineup) to just four more hits and one other run in his last six innings.

“I thought it was definitely my best outing in spring,” Correia. “I felt strong the whole time. You want your last Spring Training outing to be good. You don’t want to go into the season thinking about how you didn’t pitch well the time before. I felt pretty good about this one.”

The one thing the Pirates don’t have to worry about is Correia not being stretched out to begin the year. He has done as well as anyone on the staff in terms of getting in the spring innings necessary to pitch deep at the onset of the regular season. With 92 pitches on Saturday, Correia should be good to go over 100, as needed, on Opening Day.

“I thought he got stronger as he went on,” Hurdle said. “He expects a lot of himself. He never shuts himself down on an inning or an outing. He takes a lot of pride in getting the ball and pitching deep and getting as many innings as he can get. I thought it was a very good way for him to finish up.”

Correia will get five days of rest (instead of the normal four) before his next outing.

***

Michael Crotta allowed one run on two hits in an inning of relief, but he remains very much in the mix for a bullpen spot in Pittsburgh. One of three relievers fighting for two openings in the bullpen, Crotta hadn’t allowed an earned run (10 innings) until this game.

“He is a big guy,” Hurdle said. “He repeats his delivery pretty well. He’s got good downhill plane. It’s hard sink and he’s added a complementary breaking ball to it at times. He’s pounded the strikezone. He has done everything that he can possibly do to at least build his confidence.”

***

Don’t look now, but the Pirates have dropped five in a row and nine of the last 11. That’s not exactly the way I’d imagine the club wants to head into the regular season. Hurdle, however, downplayed the importance of needing some wins this week when asked about the losing afterward. 

“We play every game to win but if we don’t, we don’t,” he said. “We’re going to start the season and we’re not going to have any. You’ve got to play good baseball to win and we haven’t played complete games for the last 10-11 games. You have to throw a complete package out there. I’ll be more concerned when we’re running our regular team out there. Winning is always the intent, but again the focus will obviously shift to a higher degree of that once the season starts.”

With four spring games remaining, the Pirates are 10-19.

“We’ve got to go out and win ballgames and find ways to win ballgames,” first baseman Lyle Overbay said. “I think we need to do a little better job of picking each other up when things go wrong. It seems like it starts snowballing, and someone needs to pick us up – whether it’s a pitcher or a great defensive play – to snap us right out of it.”

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Pirates 7, Red Sox 5

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

In case you missed it earlier, here is information on Joe Beimel, who did not pitch on Sunday after feeling some tightness in his left elbow. This isn’t a good thing, considering we’re less than two weeks away from Opening Day.

Beimel has only made two appearances so far, and he’s going to miss at least a little bit of time right now. This setback could make the addition of Garrett Olsen that much more important, as he gives the Pirates another potential left-handed reliever option.

General manager Neal Huntington did reiterate after Saturday’s game that the acquisition of Olsen was independent of anything wrong with Beimel. The fact that Beimel first started feeling the tightness on Saturday and then said it increased overnight supports that assertion.

***

Hurdle confirmed that either Paul Maholm or Kevin Correia will be the team’s Opening Day starter in Chicago. An announcement on the choice will come sometime after Maholm pitches on Monday.

“We’re getting closer,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We’ve categorized all the numbers. We have all the information we need. With us, it’s not so much our No. 1; it’s our best way to set up the rotation as we move forward. We’re still considering some things.”

***

Correia threw about 80 pitches in his five-inning start on Saturday. He worked his way out of a first-and-third, nobody-out jam in the first thanks, in part, to a great double play started by Neil Walker.

That allowed Correia to settle in.

“It’s a big pick up,” Correia said of getting out of trouble. “To get that kind of rejuvenates you and wakes you up and gets you going.”

He gave up three runs (two earned) in the fifth, but had minimal trouble in between. Correia’s curveball wasn’t as sharp as it has been at times this spring, but he did have a pretty effective slider working.

“I thought he overthrew early, settled down and got in a real good rhythm,” Hurdle said. “He got the ball down. He used his cutter, threw some good breaking balls. The one thing you can’t replicate is getting the pitcher on base to have to run bases and go out and pitch an inning.”

Correia did spend a good amount of time on the bases. He singled in both at-bats and ended up moving to third on an error right after collecting the second of those two hits. In comparison, the Red Sox’s DH had just one hit in the game.

***

Don’t count out John Bowker in the competition for a bench spot. He has now hit safely in nine of his last 12 games after knocking a home run in his only at-bat on Saturday. The home run came on — you guessed it — a fastball. Bowker has shown no problem hitting fastballs; having more success with breaking pitches is where development is still needed.

Bowker is 9-for-30 this spring.

“It’s going well,” he said. “I’m trying to just get that rhythm and get the timing down like everybody else.”

Bowker is in a different position than most, though. He is out of options, meaning that the Pirates would have to put him on waivers if they don’t add him to the roster. The Pirates already have four outfielders (and maybe five if you count Ryan Doumit as more than a backup catcher).

But Bowker has an ability to play either corner spot and first (as well as center in an emergency), so his versatility could help him earn his way on. The question then would be whether Bowker could thrive in bench role without consistent at-bats.

“That’s something you learn over time when you’re not getting those regular at-bats,” Hurdle said. “The one thing he’s done throughout his career is light up the fastball. I think the thing he is learning is that word gets around the league.”

***

On the main site tonight, you can find injury updates on Brad Lincoln, Chris Snyder and Beimel, as well as Kevin Hart’s reaction to being placed on the DL and a closer look at the middle infield competition.

On a side note, I’m off tomorrow and will not be with the team during the day. I’ll be back blogging on Monday.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Day 29: Pirates @ Orioles

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The news this morning came in the form of 10 roster moves. You can find a detailed list of those moves here in case you missed it earlier.

As for a few other notes…

  • Catcher Ryan Doumit left the clubhouse not too long ago carrying his bat and on his way to take some dry swings. That’s a good sign for the right oblique that Doumit strained last week. The Pirates have said they will provide their next update on Doumit on Wednesday.
  • Scott Olsen and Joe Beimel are scheduled to throw one inning apiece in Monday’s game against Baltimore.
  • Forgot to mention yesterday that with Sunday’s win over Boston, the Pirates now already have more Grapefruit League victories than they did all last spring. Pittsburgh is 8-10 going into today’s contest.
  • John Bowker is getting his first start of the spring at first today. The Pirates wanted to get the outfielder some work at first base in case he were to be needed there at any point during the year.
  • Tuesday will be the first of two off days for the club, and no mandatory workouts are scheduled.
  • The following pitchers will throw on Wednesday: Paul Maholm, Jeff Karstens, Joel Hanrahan

Lineups:

PIRATES: P. Ciriaco (2B), J. Bowker (1B), A. McCutchen (CF), P. Alvarez (3B), M. Diaz (LF), S. Pearce (RF), J. Rodriguez (SS), J. Jaramillo (C), K. Correia (RHP)

Pitchers: K. Correia (five innings), E. Meek, S. Olsen, J. Beimel, M. Crotta

ORIOLES: R. Winn (LF), F. Pie (CF), N. Markakis (RF), V. Guerrero (DH), L. Scott (1B), M. Reynolds (3B), M. Wieters (C), R. Andino (2B), C. Izturis (SS)

Pitchers: J. Arrieta, J. Accardo, J. Berken

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Injury report

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The Pirates have implemented a new policy this year as it relates to disclosing injury information and it involves issuing team statements on injuries. In the past, more often than not, media members got injury information by asking questions.

Anyways, the Pirates sent out an injury update this morning, and I’ve copied and pasted it below. I’m not sure how much information is really in here, given how vague and unspecific a number of these updates are. But I give you what I receive and you can do your best to decipher…

  • RHP Jose Ascanio threw a bullpen yesterday without any issues.  He will continue on his return to pitch progression. 
  • LHP Joe Beimel continues on his return to pitch progression without issue. 
  • OF John Bowker - his left wrist feels better and his status remains day to day.
  • INF Brian Friday - his left hand feels better and his status remains day to day.
  • RHP Kevin Hart continues on his return to pitch progression without issue.
  • LHP Scott Olsen continues on his return to pitch progression without issue. 
  • INF Josh Rodriguez - his right quadriceps feels better and his status remains day to day.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

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