Results tagged ‘ Jose Tabata ’
In case you missed it earlier, the Pirates made two roster moves prior to Wednesday’s game. Jose Ascanio was reinstated from the DL and is here and available for Wednesday’s game. Mike Crotta was placed on the 15-day DL with right posterior elbow inflammation. More details on those moves can be found here.
More news and notes for the day:
- UPDATE: Neil Walker was scratched from the lineup just before gametime due to flu-like symptoms. Ronny Cedeno took Walker’s place at second, while Brandon Wood stepped in to play short.
- Jose Tabata is out of the lineup to take a day to work on specifics with his swing. It’s no secret the last few weeks have not been kind to Tabata, who was the most consistent hitter at the start of the season. Tabata’s season average has dropped to .226 as he has just nine hits in his last 67 at-bats.
- Crotta said that he had been bothered by the elbow discomfort for about a week. He didn’t, however, let anyone know until after his outing last night. An MRI done on his elbow came out fine today, and maybe this is an explanation as to why Crotta was having so much trouble keeping his pitches down lately. Crotta is headed to Bradenton on Thursday, where he will remain to rehab his arm.
- The plan is not to throw Ascanio into late-inning, high-leverage situations right away if at all possible. The Pirates would like to ease him into a bullpen role, particularly to see if his numbers during a Triple-A rehab stint are indicative of his command and stuff. Ascanio did not fare all that well in the rehab assignment, though sometimes those results can mean nothing. As Ascanio said on Wednesday, he starts with all zeroes now.
- Chris Resop, who threw 41 pitches on Tuesday, is the only reliever not available for the Pirates tonight.
- With Andrew McCutchen’s two homers last night, he sure looked like the No. 3 hitter manager Clint Hurdle envisioned heading into the season. To this point, though, Hurdle has no intention of moving McCutchen back down in the order. “He seems to be more comfortable now. His swing is playing right there. I’m going to leave him right there.”
- If Hurdle did want to move McCutchen down in the order, who would he even be able to put in the leadoff spot, especially with Tabata struggling?
- Ross Ohlendorf is not currently throwing — not off the mound, not off flat ground. After throwing his session of live batting practice on Friday, Ohlendorf felt some shoulder soreness and opted to take a few days off to rest his arm. He said he expects to resume throwing in Milwaukee. Ohlendorf’s timetable just keeps getting pushed back by one thing after another. I don’t see any way he is back by the end of the month.
- Evan Meek said he felt good during a 25-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday. He’ll play catch on Thursday, long toss Friday and throw another side session on Saturday. Then he’ll head out to Triple-A Indianapolis for two rehab appearances.
- Brian Burres was a hard-luck loser in Triple-A Indianapolis’ game earlier today. Burres allowed only one run on four hits in seven innings, but Indianapolis’ offense never scored.
- Altoona, on the other hand, had a huge offensive day in their morning contest. The Curve scored 13 runs for starter Jeff Locke, who allowed two runs in six innings. Starling Marte, Jordy Mercer and Miles Durham all had three hits in the win. Mercer had two homers and drove in five.
- The Pirates have brought back their “You Score as the Bucs Score promotion” for this weekend’s series against the Brewers. For those who are unfamiliar with how the promotion works, all the details can be found here. The discounted tickets are for the upcoming series against the Tigers (May 20-22). Yovani Gallardo and Zack Greinke will both be pitching for Milwaukee during that series.
- General manager Neal Huntington will hold a pirates.com chat with readers at 3 p.m. ET on Thursday. The chat was initially scheduled for Wednesday, so sorry for any confusion.
PIRATES: A. McCutchen (CF), X. Paul (LF), G. Jones (RF), L . Overbay (1B), C. Snyder (C), P. Alvarez (3B), B. Wood (SS), R. Cedeno (2B), P. Maholm (LHP)
DODGERS: J. Carroll (SS), I. DeJesue (2B), A. Ethier (RF), M. Kemp (CF), J. Uribe (3B), R. Barajas (C), J. Sands (LF), R. Mitchell (1B), H. Kuroda (RHP)
Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB
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).
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
Most importantly, Happy Mother’s Day to all the readers who fall in that category. In particular, wishing my mom (who reminds me often that she is a faithful blog reader), my sister (who is probably huddled up studying for finals) and my grandmothers (who, unfortunately, will never read this because neither has learned to operate a computer) a terrific day. Thanks especially to my mom for unwavering support and unconditional love — I’m sure I didn’t always deserve both.
And, since my mom will likely spend the day watching baseball, let’s honor her with some Sunday morning Pirates news…
- Pedro Alvarez is still not ready to return to the lineup, but he is currently out taking grounders at third. That’s the first I’ve seen him do any defensive work since the right quad tightness crept up on Tuesday. Alvarez was also supposed to do some running this morning.
- Evan Meek just completed a session of long toss on the outfield grass. He is eligible to come off the DL on May 12, though I’m guessing he won’t be ready by then since he hasn’t yet resumed pitching off a mound.
- Manager Clint Hurdle talked this morning about Jose Tabata losing his swing lately. And that has really put a dent in his production after such a strong season start. Tabata is is 2-for-25 since April 25. The injury probably didn’t help his timing, but even before that, Tabata’s swing was getting long — as if he was purposefully trying to hit for more power.
- Pink bats, wristbands and batting gloves were spotted around the clubhouse this morning. Donning pink is an annual Mother’s Day tradition. Garrett Jones, Ronny Cedeno, Chris Snyder, Tabata, Lyle Overbay, Steve Pearce, Matt Diaz and Neil Walker will all be swinging pink bats. Walker and Joel Hanrahan will be wearing pink cleats. Under Armour will have over 170 Minor League and Major League players and coaches sporting the bright shoes.
- Once again, the Pirates have a shot at returning to .500 with a win this afternoon.
- Triple-A starter Rudy Owens has been handed a three-game suspension and will have his next start pushed back to Tuesday (from Monday) as a result. Owens was ejected from his last start for hitting a batter after giving up a home run.
- Outfielder Alex Presley continues to do little wrong in Indianapolis. With three more hits on Saturday, Presley now has a league-leading 40. He has driven in 15, scored 19 and stolen seven bases, too. Working against Presley, though, is the simple fact that the Pirates don’t need an outfielder. The recent addition of Xavier Paul only further hurt Presley’s chances of earning a big league call-up anytime soon.
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), J. McDonald (RHP)
ASTROS: M. Bourn (CF), C. Barmes (SS), H. Pence (RF), C. Lee (LF), B. Wallace (1B), C. Johnson (3B), B. Hall (2B), H. Quintero (C), J.A. Happ (LHP)
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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.
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
A quick note on coverage for tonight’s game. I am at PETCO Park, but I will not be taking care of game coverage (pre or post). Don’t worry — you’ll have plenty to read. It just won’t be with my byline.
As you may or may not have noticed, I have also been doubling as a part-time columnist for MLB.com, writing columns on various teams, players and topics since late in the 2010 season. While I very much enjoy getting to cover unique stories from other clubhouses, I have to make time for the reporting and writing involved. As a result, from time to time I will take a day to devote to column and feature writing.
Tonight, actually, I’ll be finishing up a column for tomorrow (you should remember the subject, as he has ties to the Pirates) and writing a Pirates feature for Thursday. I was also able to spend some time in the Padres clubhouse this afternoon to collect material for an upcoming Pirates story. That’s your tease…
I can still give you a few new and notes for the day even though I did not sit in on manager Clint Hurdle’s media session:
- Ross Ohlendorf threw live batting practice on Tuesday to a handful of hitters. He seemed to have no issue during the session, though check back at pirates.com later tonight for full details on his own assessment.
- Outfielder Jose Tabata is not in the lineup again tonight. Hurdle had said that Tabata would be re-evaluated today, so there should be some news on that later.
- Brandon Wood was out taking grounders at second base this afternoon. The Pirates said they wanted the infielder to get some work at the position so that the club can evaluate whether Wood could be a future option there.
- Let me direct your attention to a new MLB.com prospect feature. It’ll be very handy for those of you who like to keep up with the organization’s best Minor Leaguers. The link is here, and you can sort based on MLB.com’s top 50 overall prospects, top 10 prospects by position, or top 10 lists by team.
- Owner Bob Nutting will be in attendance tonight with some family members.
- Lefty Rudy Owens was ejected from his start for Triple-A Indianapolis this afternoon. He allowed a three-run homer and hit the next batter, Chris Carter. Carter had already homered earlier in the game. Owens was ejected by the home plate umpire, ending his day after 2 1/3 innings.
PIRATES: A. McCutchen (CF), X. Paul (LF), G. Jones (RF), N. Walker (2B), L. Overbay (1B), C. Snyder (C), P. Alvarez (3B), R. Cedeno (SS), J. Karstens (RHP)
PADRES: J. Bartlett (SS), O. Hudson (2B), R. Ludwick (LF), J. Cantu (3B), C. Maybin (CF), B. Hawpe (1B), R. Johnson (C), W. Venable (RF), M. Latos (RHP)
Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB
One month of the 2011 baseball season is in the books, and I would be curious to hear your assessment of the first 27 games. A few things stand out to me, thus far…
- I can’t say I necessarily expected the pitching to be carrying the offense. Coming into the year, the Pirates appeared to have a competitive lineup (particularly spots 1-6), but to this point that lineup has produced a .230 batting average and plated just 91 runs (ranking 15th of 16 NL teams). The pitching, on the other hand, is much improved over last year.
- The degree of success of the Pirates’ bullpen has been a bit surprising, too. Joel Hanrahan has thrived in the closer’s role, though that wasn’t all that unexpected. Evan Meek didn’t have the month most thought he would as the primary set-up man, but the rest of the ‘pen has been terrific. The club finished the month with the lowest bullpen ERA (2.19) in the Majors.
- Who thought Pedro Alvarez’s defense would be more impressive than his offense to this point? Yes, Alvarez has made some errors. But he’s also made some stellar defensive plays. And there has been much more of the latter than the former. However, at the plate, it has been a struggle since day one. Alvarez has just one homer, and he hit .200 in the month with 31 strikeouts in 90 at-bats. He has driven in seven, though two of those runs scored on an infield hit in the season’s opening weekend.
- Strikeouts, in general, have really plagued this team. Four players — Alvarez, Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker and Jose Tabata — already have at least 23 apiece. Only the Padres have struck out more than the Pirates.
- I thought this could be a breakout year for McCutchen, and it still can be. But to this point, the center fielder has produced well below his career numbers. The last two games have been a step in the right direction, but the dynamic outfielder has just not been consistent. And that’s particularly unusual for him.
- On a positive note, the starts from Charlie Morton and Kevin Correia have been especially encouraging. Correia came into the year intent on proving he was better than he pitched in 2010. For Morton, this is a year of both renaissance and redemption. The Pirates couldn’t have asked much more of either starter in April.
As the team prepares for a fresh month, here are some news and notes before the Pirates’ series finale against the Rockies:
- Jose Tabata (tightness in right hamstring) is, as expected, not in the lineup. He said that manager Clint Hurdle told him he will also sit out on Monday. That said, Tabata said he is feeling about 95 percent. He was riding a stationary bike for a while this morning and was walking without any apparent issue.
- Right-hander Ross Ohlendorf is slated to throw live batting practice on Tuesday. He expects to throw another BP session after that and will then head out on a Minor League rehab assignment.
- So far, the Pirates have been avoiding the lengthy losing streaks that have been an issue in recent years. But they’re also not enjoying any winning streaks either. The Pirates have not won consecutive games since April 17-19 in Cincinnati. They lost the next three games and then have alternated wins and losses ever since.
- So how did April 2011 compare to April 2010? The Pirates just finished a 12-15 April. Last year’s club went 10-13 in the first month of the season. The club’s longest winning streak in April was two games; that happened twice.
- If the Pirates can win on Sunday, the club will notch its fourth road series win of the season. That would match last year’s total.
- The Rockies have held the Pirates to a .197 batting average in six games so far this year.
- Outfielder Alex Presley was named Triple-A Indianapolis’ Player of the Month for April. Presley finished the month 30-for-90 with 13 runs scored, five stolen bases and eight extra-base hits. He reached base safely in 20 of the 24 games he played.
- Xavier Paul is making his third start of the season, though it’s his first since joining the Pirates.
PIRATES: A. McCutchen (CF), X. Paul (LF), G. Jones (RF), N. Walker (2B), L. Overbay (1B), R. Doumit (C), P. Alvarez (3B), R. Cedeno (SS), C. Morton (RHP)
ROCKIES: D. Fowler (CF), A. Amezaga (2B), T. Helton (1B), T. Tulowitzki (SS), C. Gonzalez (LF), S. Smith (RF), J. Lopez (3B), C. Iannetta (C), U. Jimenez (RHP)
Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB
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.
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
The placard above Andrew McCutchen’s locker read: McKKKKutchen this morning. Great humor, though two of those Ks should have been backward for accuracy sake. McCutchen took the gag in good spirits.
For those curious, McCutchen would have needed to strike out one more time to tie a club record and Major League record for a nine-inning game. The two Pirates who have struck out five times in a game? Bert Blyleven (1979) and Pep Young (1935).
Some news and notes:
- While McCutchen is still looking for his first stolen base of the year, Jose Tabata already has seven. We’ve talked a lot about Tabata’s hitting, but his basestealing (and 7-of-8 success rate) is notable. Tabata worked hard to refine this part of the game during Spring Training and the work is most notable in three areas. He’s readiug pitchers better, taking slightly bigger leads and keeping his body in a position to get a better jump. More on this on the main site later.
- The Reds changed their pitching order late last night to give Edinson Volquez an extra day to recover from a stiff neck. That means Mike Leake will oppose James McDonald this afternoon.
- It wasn’t until May 14 that the Pirates picked up their sixth road win last season. They have a chance to do so today.
- Interesting tidbit from Elias Sports Bureau: The last Pirates pitcher to lose a shutout by allowing a solo homer with two out in the ninth inning of a complete-game performance was Bronson Arroyo (2001). This is ironic given that it was Arroyo who opposed Charlie Morton last night.
- I get a lot of questions about how much credit is due Ray Searage for Morton’s bounceback. Certainly, there is some. But give Morton the credit he deserves, too. Here’s a guy who hit the lowest of lows last year and is now looking like an early-season favorite for comeback player of the year consideration. His confidence is as high as I have ever seen it, and he is now taking the mound believing that his stuff is good enough to get out anyone.
- Lyle Overbay has a .411 lifetime average against the Reds and even better numbers (28-for-66) at Great American Ball Park.
PIRATES: A. McCutchen (CF), J. Tabata (LF), L. Overbay (1B), N. Walker (2B), P. Alvarez (3B), R. Doumit (C), G. Jones (RF), R. Cedeno (SS), J. McDonald (RHP)
REDS: D. Stubbs (CF), M. Cairo (2B), J. Votto (1B), J. Gomes (LF), J. Bruce (RF), J. Francisco (3B), R. Hernandez (C), P. Janish (SS), M. Leake (RHP)
Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB
Since manager Clint Hurdle seemed a tad disappointed that no one asked the question during the media’s pregame session, let me begin by sharing his unsolicited thoughts about Jose Tabata. Hurdle was specifically impressed with Tabata’s plate discipline and willingness to take a six-pitch walk in final at-bat on Wednesday. Tabata entered the night with a 10-game hitting streak but was 0-for-2 with a walk when he came to the plate in the eighth.
By taking a walk, he lost his chance at adding another game to his personal streak.
“I’m not saying it’s normal, but you’ll find players at times that will put individual accomplishments in front of the game from time to time,” Hurdle said. “A young man going up there, knowing what he needed to do and got down early in the count… took a walk. He’ll have other 10-game hitting streaks. He’ll have longer ones than that. But it was very encouraging to see that that’s his mindset. His mindset is not that he can have an 11-game hitting streak.”
Tabata can begin a new hitting streak tonight. Obviously, he has still reached base in every game this year.
Other pregame news and notes…
- Catcher Chris Snyder is back and is in the lineup. This means that Ryan Doumit will not see nearly the playing time he had through 11 games. Hurdle didn’t specify what proportion of games Snyder will catch, but it’s clear that Snyder is the team’s primary catcher. He is likely to get a few more days off early on just to ease him back into action.
- For all the flak Doumit took last year about not being able to throw out runners, he has been much, much better so far this year. Doumit has thrown out three of six runners trying to steal against him and has just looked more comfortable in the process. The pitchers appear to be helping, too, as the stopwatches show that balls are getting from the mound to the plate quicker than they were a year ago.
- Expect lefty Joe Beimel to be joining the club in Cincinnati on Friday. He has completed his rehab assignment with Triple-A Indianapolis. A move will have to be made to put Beimel on the 40-man roster.
- Righty Jeff Karstens is available in the bullpen again tonight, but this is the last night he will be a ‘pen option. The Pirates haven’t announced him as Sunday’s starter, but you can expect Karstens to step in for the start assuming he isn’t needed in long relief tonight.
- Third baseman Pedro Alvarez gets the night off on Thursday. He arrived at the ballpark early to take some extra swings, and Hurdle said there are some specific mechanical tweaks that were focused on during the session. Hurdle didn’t get into details, but he did suggest that Alvarez’s confidence could be boosted by him being able to start back at the basics.
- Taking Alvarez’s place at third base will be Steve Pearce. This will be Pearce’s first start at third in the Majors. He was a late-inning substitution there on Saturday.
- Matt Diaz moves into the cleanup spot, which would seem warranted given his 5-for-19 start. Who would have guessed, though, that all of Diaz’s hits to this point would be off righties? He is 0-for-4 against lefties.
- Lyle Overbay, who dropped to the sixth spot in the order, is also looking for his first hit against a left-hander.
PIRATES: J. Tabata (LF), N. Walker (2B), A. McCutchen (CF), M. Diaz (RF), S. Pearce (RF), L. Overbay (1B), C. Snyder (C), R. Cedeno (SS), P. Maholm (LHP)
BREWERS: R. Weeks (2B), C. Gomez (CF), R. Braun (LF), P. Fielder (1B), C. McGehee (3B), Y. Betancourt (SS), E. Almonte (RF), J. Lucroy (C), R. Wolf (LHP)
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A few newsworthy items to wrap up today’s workout day:
- James McDonald is (barring any unforseen setbacks) going to start April 5 agains the Cardinals. The Pirates feel good letting him get on the mound after McDonald threw 69 pitches in Spring Training camp game on Thursday morning. McDonald was unable to pitch in a Minor League game against the Triple-A Yankees as planned due to rainy weather; but he did get his work in and is flying to Chicago this evening.
- While McDonald will be fine to make his scheduled start on Tuesday, he will be limited in how deep he is able to pitch. Manager Clint Hurdle guessed that the right-hander will be limited to 85-90 pitches in the outing. But the Pirates like their chances with McDonald pitching a solid five innings and then leaving it to the ‘pen rather than having to find someone to make a spot start.
- McDonald’s velocity reached 95 mph on Thursday, Hurdle said. This certainly suggests that McDonald is having no problems with his side.
- The Pirates have not yet determined whether Brad Lincoln (right forearm contusion) will begin the season in extended Spring Training or with Triple-A Indianapolis. With the Triple-A season still a week from beginning, the Pirates have some more time to determine Lincoln’s assignment.
- Catcher Chris Snyder (lower back stiffness) has not returned to game action yet. He can come off the DL as early as April 9, but the Pirates won’t reinstate Snyder until after he can prove he can catch consecutive games without any issue.
- In the meantime, Ryan Doumit and Jason Jaramillo will both get starts behind the plate. Doumit will get the assignment on Opening Day. Hurdle said that decision was made because of Doumit’s experience: “I think we’ve got enough young guys breaking in tomorrow that we’ll rely upon Ryan with some experience behind the plate.” Jaramillo will catch in a game over the weekend.
- The Pirates have signed right-hander Tim Wood to a Minor League contract. No word yet on where he’ll begin the season — though it will not be in the Majors. Wood was released by the Nationals on Thursday morning.
- Outfielder Jose Tabata has no ankle issues — he was taken out of Wednesday’s game strictly for precautionary reasons. He’s just fine.
- Also, something that was announced while I was off yesterday that I thought was worth noting: Major League Baseball is implementing a 7-day DL this season for concussion injuries only. The hope is that this will help players from trying to rush back from a concussion prematurely; and it allows teams the benefit of not having to play shorthanded while a player recovers. You can read more about the new policy here.
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