Results tagged ‘ John Grabow ’

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.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB    

July 27: Pirates (43-55) @ Giants (52-46); Sanchez scratched with sore left knee

First, to all those who emailed expressing your concerns for my life after I almost got nailed with a foul ball yesterday, thank you. I’m doing just fine despite the fact that the Arizona press box now has a permanent dent directly behind where I was sitting for Sunday’s game. I made sure Andrew McCutchen (who lasered the ball into the press box) wasn’t upset at anything I wrote and he promised that we’re cool. Since the computer and my head survived unscathed, it’s just nothing more than a good story now.

This is my first trip to San Francisco, as a baseball writer or tourist. Somehow I’ve always missed this trip in my past years on the beat. After getting some pregame stuff done, I’m going to take a walk around the ballpark and shoot some photos. I’ll bring those to you tomorrow so those of you who haven’t been out here before can get a look.

My first impression is that the inside looks neater on TV than in person. However, I’ll save my final critique until after I venture around. The outside, however, is beautiful and may be my favorite ballpark exterior anywhere. Gorgeous red brick.

As for today’s news, notes and randomness…

  • Freddy Sanchez was scratched because of nagging soreness in his left knee. “It’s a little sore and tender,” Sanchez said as he pointed to the brace he was wearing. He’s listed as day to day. Delwyn Young was inserted into Sanchez’s spot in the lineup and in the field.
  • Assuming Sanchez does not make a plate appearance on Monday, he’ll enter Tuesday on pace for 625 plate appearances this year. Why’s that of any significance? Remember, Sanchez’s $8 million option for 2010 becomes automatic if he reaches 600 plate appearances. He needs to remain off the DL, it looks like, in order to reach that figure.
  • Condolences to third base coach Tony Beasley, whose father just passed away. Beasley had been away from the team since Wednesday to be with his father and had rejoined the club here in San Fransisco. He is leaving later on Monday night to return to his family.
  • Despite manager John Russell’s campaigning, Garrett Jones was not named the National League’s Player of the Week for his offensive showing last week. Jones (.464 average, three homers, six RBIs) was passed over for Los Angeles’ Andre Ethier. Ethier hit .545 last week with two homers, six RBIs and 23 total bases. Jones very well could be in line to take home Rookie of the Month and/or Player of the Month honors, however, and those awards will be announced next week.
  • Russell went from a “yeah” to a non-committal answer on Monday when asked if Virgil Vasquez will make his next scheduled start. Russell’s response: “Yeah. He’s still here. Like I said, it’s early. We have some time to piece it together. But as of now, yeah.” 
  • The Cubs are looking hard for left-handed relief help and are believed to have John Grabow and Joe Beimel on their radar. Grabow, as has been well documented here, is set to be a free agent after this season and no attempts have been made by the organization to sign him to any extension.
  • Pedro Alvarez has hit .357 in his last 11 games to raise his average in Double-A to .283. He has a total of 20 home runs in the Minors this season.
  • The Pirates have won 10 of their last 14 games played against the Giants.

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. Jack Wilson (SS)
  9. Paul Maholm (LHP)

Giants lineup:

  1. Andes Torres (CF)
  2. Randy Winn (RF)
  3. Pablo Sandoval (3B)
  4. Bengie Molina (C)
  5. Edgar Renteria (SS)
  6. Jesus Guzman (1B)
  7. Eugenio Velez (LF)
  8. Juan Uribe (2B)
  9. Tim Lincecum (RHP)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

July 22: Brewers (48-46) @ Pirates (41-52)

So for those dying for something deadline related, chew on this: I got word last night that Larry Corrigan, a special assistant to GM Neal Huntington, was in Detroit to watch last night’s game between the Mariners and Tigers. With the Trade Deadline sitting just over a week away, Huntington’s top advisors are going to go watch the teams that the Pirates are most likely to deal with, so this is definitely something to keep in the back of your mind.

While it’s unknown who Corrigan was in Detroit to watch, my best guess is that it would be the Mariners. The Tigers’ primary need is for corner outfield bat, and the Pirates really aren’t the team to fill that need. Detroit is also looking for another starting option, so there is the chance that Ian Snell could be on their radar. This is pure speculation, however.

Seattle, on the other hand, is known to have been interested in both Freddy Sanchez and Jack Wilson for a while now, especially Sanchez. The Seattle Times reported earlier this month that another special assistant to Huntington, Marc DelPiano, was scouting a Mariners game on July 9. The Mariners still have to decide if they are sellers or buyers at the deadline, but if they decide to buy and go after the AL West title, the fact that the club dealt Yuniesky Betancourt earlier this month does give them some financial flexibility to take on the salary of say, Sanchez, if they wanted.

Stay tuned….

As for today’s news, notes and randomness:

  • Wednesday marks the final home game before the 4 pm Trade Deadline on July 31. That said, will this be the last time Pirates fans see John Grabow and Sanchez in home white uniforms? Just saying…
  • Neither Sanchez or Wilson have been approached by management concerning those contract extension talks. Both middle infielders said on Monday that they’d be open to continuing the talks if the Pirates were also willing to talk.
  • Wilson is out of the lineup again on Wednesday, though the tightness in his left hamstring has not worsened since Tuesday.
  • The Pirates need a win on Wednesday to claim their first series win against an NL Central opponent since mid-May. The Pirates are 1-9-2 in series against teams in their division this year.
  • Andrew McCutchen is tied for fifth among all NL lead-off hitters with 23 RBIs this season. Those have come in just 41 games. Chicago’s Alfonso Soriano leads the bunch with 32 RBIs in 70 games.

Pirates lineup

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

 

Brewers lineup:

  1. Corey Hart (RF)
  2. Mike Cameron (CF)
  3. Ryan Braun (LF)
  4. Prince Fielder (1B)
  5. Casey McGehee (2B)
  6. Bill Hall (3B)
  7. J.J. Hardy (SS)
  8. Jason Kendall (C)
  9. Jeff Suppan (RHP) 

July 19: Giants (49-41) @ Pirates (40-50)

I’m back from a few days off and will be on the beat all the way until Trade Deadline day so let’s all buckle in… Nothing much in terms of clubhouse news came out of the media’s daily meeting with John Russell, but here’s some stuff to chew on for those who need some early morning Bucs bits:

  • The Pirates enter Sunday’s game against the Giants having beaten SF 10 of the last 13 times the two teams have played. The Pirates have won five straight against the Giants here at PNC Park. However, it’s certainly worth noting that the Giants team the Pirates have beaten the last two days is a significant improvement over the club the team had assembled the last few years.
  • With his appearance on Saturday, John Grabow became the all-time career appearance leader at PNC Park. He has made 189 appearances here in the nine-year existence of the park.
  • When Zach Duke takes the mound later this afternoon, he’ll be handed the task of trying to keep the staff’s scoreless streak alive. Pirates pitchers have not allowed an earned run in their last 30 innings.
  • Go figure this one: Though the Pirates’ 40-50 record is ranked 13th in the NL, Pittsburgh actually has the fourth best home winning percentage (.585, 24-17).
  • After going 4-for-6 with two RBIs on Saturday, outfielder Lastings Milledge is now hitting .520 in seven games with Triple-A Indianapolis.
  • Indianapolis left-hander Tom Gorzelanny picked up another win and another quality start on Thursday, as he allowed just one earned run in six innings. Since returning to Triple-A, Gorzelanny is 3-2 with a 1.07 ERA in six starts.
  • Single-A shortstop Chase d’Arnaud will be out the rest of the season after spraining ligaments in his left thumb. D’Arnaud, a fourth-round selection in 2008, hit .279 in 19 games with high-A Lynchburg after hitting .291 in 62 games with low-A West Virginia, which is where he started the season.
  • Of Garrett Jones’ 16 hits with the Pirates, 11 have gone for extra bases.
  • First baseman Adam LaRoche is hitless in his last 21 at-bats and has just two hits in his last 36 at-bats. This is certainly an aberration from LaRoche’s usual July numbers. He is 4-for-46 this month after coming into the season a career .322 hitter in July.

Pirates lineup:

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

Giants lineup:

  1. Aaron Rowand (CF)
  2. Randy Winn (LF)
  3. Pablo Sandoval (3B)
  4. Bengie Molina (C)
  5. Nate Schierholtz (RF)
  6. Edgar Renteria (SS)
  7. John Bowker (1B)
  8. Kevin Frandsen (2B)
  9. Matt Cain (RHP)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

July 1: Cubs (36-38) @ Pirates (36-41); Wilson apologizes for comments

Shortstop Jack Wilson sought out the media on Wednesday so that he could publically apologize for some of his comments made on Tuesday afternoon, just minutes after hearing that teammates Sean Burnett and Nyjer Morgan had been traded. For those who may have missed it, here is what Wilson said yesterday.

Wilson was understandably frustrated, having seen the Pirates trade away teammates over and over again during his tenure here. But it was the tone he used and what could be perceived as negativity toward Pirates management that he wanted to step away from after reading what he had said the day after…

“I really didn’t sleep last night. I think some of my comments were pretty harsh,” Wilson said. “When you’re here and you’re in the moment and you’re talking to guys and everyone is bummed out, you tend to maybe lose your head a little bit and vent. A lot of things I said, I thought about last night when talking with my wife and they were pretty inaccurate I would say. I definitely don’t want to be that guy who is butting heads with the organization or causing any type of negativity. I apologize for that. I haven’t talked to Neal [Huntington] or anything like that, but that’s not the player I want to be. That’s not the person I want to be for the Pittsburgh Pirates. I’m definitely passionate about winning, about being a Pirate and sometimes it comes out in a negative way. For that, I apologize for going against the organization.”

Other news and notes for the day:

  • Jeff Salazar has arrived at PNC Park, but he has not been added to the roster yet because of what is being described as extenuating cicumstances. Manager John Russell said he couldn’t comment on the situation, but we are expected to be notified closer to game time what’s going on and when/if Salazar will be added. Salazar said he’s under the impression that he’ll be available tonight. UPDATE 6:20 pm: Salazar has been activated and is available to play on Wednesday.
  • Craig Monroe has cleared waivers and been given his unconditional release.
  • The Pirates have signed third-round Draft pick Evan Chambers. He has been assigned to begin his professional career with short season State College. Chambers, 20, is a center fielder drafted from Hillsborough (Fla.) Community College.
  • The Pirates have also signed SS John Gourley (13th round) and RHP Ryan Beckham (18th round). Gourley was drafted out of high school. The Pirates have now agreed to terms with 15 of 51 players. 
  • Joel Hanrahan arrived in the clubhouse at about 3:45 pm today, only to be greeted with a bear hug from Delwyn Young. Hanrahan’s transition should be a bit smoother considering he already knows Young, both LaRoches and John Grabow.
  • Russell is wasting no time getting Garrett Jones into the lineup, putting him in left and in the No. 3 spot on Wednesday. Russell emphasized that Jones will get plenty of opportunity to show that he could be an everyday player, which suggests that he will likely be a more regular starter than Eric Hinske was.
  • Three players from Double-A Altoona have been selected to play in the Eastern League All-Star Game. Those include LHP Daniel Moskos, SS Brian Friday and OF/1B Jason Delaney
  • Andy LaRoche is out of the lineup for nothing more than just a day to rest.

Pirates lineup:

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

Cubs lineup:

  1. Sam Fuld (LF)
  2. Ryan Theriot (SS)
  3. Derrek Lee (1B)
  4. Milton Bradley (RF)
  5. Jake Fox (3B)
  6. Kosuke Fukodome (CF)
  7. Geovany Soto (C)
  8. Andres Blanco (2B)
  9. Randy Wells (RHP)

June 16: Pirates (30-33) @ Twins (32-33)

IMG00068.jpgYou don’t come here to the Metrodome for the aesthetics, I’ll tell you that. It’s what you’d expect, I guess, for a dome. Just not a lot of character, and the bright blue seats could make you a bit dizzy. But it is a new stadium for me to visit, so regardless of how low it may rank on the list, I can at least check it off.

It’s a homecoming — kinda — for manager John Russell, who began his coaching career in the Twins organization. Of course, he never coached or managed in the Metrodome, but his ties to the organization are still strong. Michael Cuddyer and Justin Morneau, though, are the only players on the Twins current team that played for Russell.

***

Don’t look now, but your Pirates are sitting just 4.5 games behind the Brewers in the Central. The parity in the division is remarkable; all six teams are within 4.5 games of each other. The Pirates need to get back above .500 first (last done on May 3), but it’s at least a bit notable that the club has not played themselves completely out of the division despite a road heavy schedule and limited playing time from catcher Ryan Doumit.

***

Since agreeing to terms with first-round pick Tony Sanchez last week, the Pirates have signed five additional Draft picks: Marc Baca (42nd; RHP), Jason Erickson (24th; RHP), Ty Summerlin (30th, SS), Jose Hernandez (23rd, LF) and Pat Irvine (33rd; LF).

All five of them have been assigned to State College’s mini-camp, which begins on Tuesday.

***

Tonight’s game will snap a streak of 786 games that the Pirates have played on grass, the longest such streak in the Majors. (Thank you Elias Sports Bureau). The last game this club played on turf was on July 11, 2004, in Puerto Rico. John Grabow and Jack Wilson are the only Pirates left on the team who played that series against the Expos in Puerto Rico.

The artificial turf and white roof are going to be elements to deal with. But though the Bucs are unfamiliar with the surface and surroundings, they actually know the Twins quite well even though they haven’t played in Interleague since 2006 (the Pirates were swept in Pittsburgh). They face each other all the time in Spring Training, including in seven exhibition games this year.

“We know them,” Russell said. “They know us a little bit because it seems like we are the only two teams left in Florida at the end of Spring Training. But that’s Spring Training. Now you’re 60 games into the season. Guys have their swings down. Pitchers are locked in. It’s going to be a little bit different.”  

***

Pirates lineup:

  1. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  2. Nyjer Morgan (LF)
  3. Freddy Sanchez (2B)
  4. Adam LaRoche (1B)
  5. Craig Monroe (DH)
  6. Delwyn Young (RF)
  7. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  8. Jason Jaramillo (C)
  9. Jack Wilson (SS)

LHP Paul Maholm

Twins lineup:

  1. Brenden Harris (SS)
  2. Joe Mauer (C)
  3. Justin Morneau (1B)
  4. Joe Crede (3B)
  5. Jason Kubel (DH)
  6. Michael Cuddyer (RF)
  7. Delmon Young (LF)
  8. Carlos Gomez (RF)
  9. Nick Punto (2B)

LHP Glen Perkins

May 26: Pirates (21-24) @ Cubs (21-22); Capps not throwing, but no DL yet

“It could have been a whole lot worse.”

Those were the first words from closer Matt Capps when I saw him in the clubhouse this afternoon. And indeed, it could have been worse. X-rays on Capps’ right elbow came back negative (no fracture), and for now, the Pirates are holding off on putting Capps on the disabled list.

When might he be able to throw again?

“I don’t know,” Capps said. “I’m pretty sore right now. There is no way I could play catch today. I don’t know if I could play catch tomorrow. Who knows? We’ve done a good job of icing it and keeping the inflammation down, so hopefully when I come out tomorrow the range of motion will be better and I’ll be able to pick up a ball.”

Manager John Russell suggested that it might be on Friday when the Pirates decide if Capps is going to have to go on the DL. The hope is that the bullpen can get through these next two games with just six relievers, and then there is the off-day on Thursday. Come Friday, though, if it looks like Capps is still a while from returning, the Pirates are likely going to have to bring someone up to take his spot in the ‘pen.

Capps is still scheduled to meet with the Cubs’ orthopedic surgeon sometime before Tuesday’s game.

It was a pretty scary incident to witness, and as Capps showed pictures of what his elbow looked liked yesterday — you could see the seam marks branded onto his arm — his initial thought was that the prognosis would be much worse.

“My elbow didn’t hurt me until I got in [the clubhouse],” Capps explained. “I just had a shooting pain going down my forearm and then my ring finger and my pinkie finger. It hurt and tingled. By the time I got in here, they were completely numb. I couldn’t feel them at all. And my elbow was starting to hurt. When it first happened, it sounded like a shotgun going off beside me. I thought my elbow was just blown up.”

***

With Capps out, closing duties will likely fall on left-hander John Grabow. That’s not a definitive, though, as Russell said he’ll use Grabow in the eighth if he feels he has to and then figure out how to piece together the ninth from there.

If Russell needs a right-hander, Jesse Chavez would seem to be the most likely candidate, with Tyler Yates still on the DL.

***

The Pirates moved up batting practice about an hour to try and get it in before the rain started. Just as the team took the field, though, the skies opened up just enough for the grounds crew to pull the tarp back onto the field. It looks like we were in for on-and-off rain all night, but from the looks of it, this game should (eventually) get played.

***

No word yet on Craig Hansen, who apparently had the tests on his back/neck today as opposed to on Monday, as we were originially told. That said, it might not be until Wednesday before we get word on what’s next for him.

Boy, the bullpen sure is beat up…

***

Pirates lineup:

  1. Nyjer Morgan (LF)
  2. Freddy Sanchez (2B)
  3. Nate McLouth (CF)
  4. Craig Monroe (RF)
  5. Adam LaRoche (1B)
  6. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  7. Robinzon Diaz (C)
  8. Jack Wilson (SS)
  9. Ian Snell (RHP)

Cubs lineup:

  1. Alfonso Soriano (LF)
  2. Ryan Theriot (SS)
  3. Kosuke Fukodome (CF)
  4. Milton Bradley (RF)
  5. Micah Hoffpauir (1B)
  6. Mike Fontenot (2B)
  7. Koyie Hill (C)
  8. Ryan Freel (3B)
  9. Sean Marshall (LHP)

May 21: Pirates (19-21) @ Nationals (11-28)

Same ol’, same ol’… not much in terms of pregame news. The clubhouse is quite upbeat these days, an obvious byproduct of winning seven of the last nine games. And don’t look now, but the Pirates sit only two games below .500.

The team is going for a four-game sweep tonight, which would be their first four-game sweep since May 29-June 1, 2006. That came over the Brewers at PNC Park. And the last four-game sweep on the road? You’ll have to go back to July 3-6, 1997, to find that one. Facing a Washington pitcher with no Major League experience tonight, the Pirates have to like their chances.

While we’re talking winning streaks, the Pirates can also match last year’s season-best six-game winning streak with a victory tonight. Granted as uplifting as this stretch has been for the Pirates, it’d be unfair to lose sight of the fact that these wins have come against the Rockies (15-24) and Nationals (11-28), which represent the National League’s two worst teams. How the Pirates respond in the upcoming six-game Chicago swing beginning on Friday will certianly be a much better gauge as to whether the Pirates can maintain this momentum.

In the meantime, the Pirates sure could use a lengthy start from Ian Snell in order to give the bullpen a rest. Again, manager John Russell would like to avoid having to use John Grabow and Matt Capps, but everyone is available if needed.

Pirates lineup:

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

Nationals lineup:

  1. Cristian Guzman (SS)
  2. Nick Johnson (1B)
  3. Ryan Zimmerman (3B)
  4. Adam Dunn (RF)
  5. Josh Willingham (LF)
  6. Willie Harris (CF)
  7. Josh Bard (C)
  8. Anderson Hernandez (2B)
  9. Craig Stammen (RHP)

May 20: Pirates (18-21) @ Nationals (11-27)

Ever since arriving in DC, it seems like the Nationals have had various bits of news pregame, postgame and in between. On Wednesday, manager Manny Acta informed the media that Thursday’s scheduled starter Daniel Cabrera (0-5, 5.95 ERA) will now in fact not start on Thursday. Instead, the Pirates will face Craig Stammen, who will be making his Major League debut. Stammen is 4-2 with a 1.80 ERA in seven Triple-A starts this season. I guess for a team with an 11-27 record, any possible shakeup is in order.

For all the news Washington makes, the Pirates continue to make very little. That’s not always a bad thing, but it makes for a little-less exciting blog. My apologies…

  • About 30 players/coaches took the private White House tour this morning. Word was that President Obama was signing some sort of bill (he does have a day job, you know), so he was unavailable to greet the team.
  • Manager John Russell said he would again like to stay away from using John Grabow and Matt Capps tonight to give each another night of rest. Both are available to pitch, if necessary, though, and I’d imagine you’d see Capps if a save situation presents itself. When asked if another night off could help, Capps responded: “No, I’d rather go out there every day.” He continues to work on the direction of his body in his release point in afternoon side sessions.
  • Otherwise, the bullpen is finally getting into better shape. Though he pitched each of the last two nights, Tom Gorzelanny would be available to throw one inning. And no, don’t assume that his strong showing here will make his stay any longer than initially anticipated. The Pirates want to get him back into a starting routine as soon as possible.
  • Russell said that he hadn’t yet been given a report on Craig Hansen, who threw his first side session in Bradenton, Fla., on Tuesday. Russell said he would expect that if anything had gone wrong, he would have already known. Hansen will throw his next side on Thursday.

On a side note, many of you may remember the name Tanner Scheppers. The Pirates drafted Scheppers in the second round of the Draft last year but didn’t sign the pitcher when his demands were too high. He had been expected to be a first-rounder before an arm ailment prematurely ended his college career. Anyways, Scheppers has been playing independent ball and here’s a quick update on how he’s doing courtesy of my colleague, Lisa Winston. Thought you might be interested. 

Pirates lineup:

  1. Nyjer Morgan (LF)
  2. Freddy Sanchez (2B)
  3. Nate McLouth (CF)
  4. Craig Monroe (RF)
  5. Adam LaRoche (1B)
  6. Robinzon Diaz (C)
  7. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  8. Jack Wilson (SS)
  9. Paul Maholm (LHP)

Nationals lineup:

  1. Cristian Guzman (SS)
  2. Nick Johnson (1B)
  3. Ryan Zimmerman (3B)
  4. Adam Dunn (LF)
  5. Austin Kearns (RF)
  6. Ronnie Belliard (2B)
  7. Justin Maxwell (CF)
  8. Wil Nieves (C)
  9. John Lannan (LHP)

 

May 19: Pirates (17-21) @ Nationals (11-26)

Little in the category of news today, so let’s run through it quicky:

  • Manager John Russell said he would like to avoid using Matt Capps, Jesse Chavez and John Grabow if possible tonight. However, when asked who he would call on if a save situation presents itself, Russell didn’t rule out using Capps.
  • Speaking of Capps, though his one inning of work on Monday wasn’t entirely pretty, Russell said he is seeing improvement. Capps’ slider was especially sharp on Monday night and his velocity is just fine. The struggling closer continues to work on some slight mechanical changes while throwing on flat ground.
  • Nyjer Morgan reported no discomfort in his left hamstring after mid-afternoon, on-field running. He’s back in the lineup.
  • A number of Pirates players and coaches are taking a tour of the White House on Wednesday, one day before the Steelers, Super Bowl Champions, are to visit president Obama at the White House on Thursday. However, Russell said he is not joining the tour: “I’d rather go with a ring on my finger,” he said, alluding to the annual visits made by championship teams.
  • I noticed that the Pirates made ESPN’s Top 10 plays twice last night — #10 being Andy LaRoche’s snare and throw and #5 highlighting Jack Wilson’s phenomenal stop and off-balanced throw from the outfield grass. In case you missed the highlights, here is Wilson’s gem.
  • And some leftovers from Monday’s win: The 12 runs scored marked a season-high. … The double-digit run totals on Sunday (11) and Monday (12) marked the first consecutive games in which the Pirates have scored 10 or more runs since doing so in May 2006. … And looking ahead at the possibility — not since 1930 have the Pirates scored 10 or more runs in three straight games. 

Pirates lineup:

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

Nationals lineup:

  1. Cristian Guzman (SS)
  2. Nick Johnson (1B)
  3. Ryan Zimmerman (3B)
  4. Adam Dunn (RF)
  5. Josh Willingham (LF)
  6. Willie Harris (CF)
  7. Anderson Hernandez (2B)
  8. Wil Nieves (C)
  9. Shairon Martis (RHP)
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