Results tagged ‘ Josh Rodriguez ’

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

Rodriguez makes roster; Ciriaco optioned

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The Pirates informed Pedro Ciriaco that he will begin the season in Triple-A Indianapolis. With Ciriaco out, the club is giving infielder Josh Rodriguez – the team’s Rule 5 pick — the chance to begin the year on the Major League club as the team’s backup middle infielder.

Ciriaco will bounce around as a super utility guy in the Minors, getting time at second, third, short and center field. Rodriguez can play three infield spots for the Pirates, and his bat did come to life as Spring Training went on.

GM Neal Huntington is 2-for-3 in keeping Rule 5 guys, with Evan Meek (via a trade) and Donnie Veal sticking. Last year, outfielder John Raynor lasted about a month before he was offered back.

Factoring into this decision is Rodriguez’s status as a Rule 5 guy. He would have to have been offered back to Cleveland had he not made the 25-man roster, and the Pirates believed Cleveland would take him back.

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

Twins 4, Pirates 1

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

As I close out the day with a blog entry of notes, Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez is one of three players still on the field taking extra batting practice. (Josh Rodriguez and Josh Fields are the other two). The game has been over for an hour now, but Alvarez has been getting some hitting instruction from manager Clint Hurdle – the empahsis being on hitting breaking pitches.

As I have pointed out previously this spring, Alvarez’s work ethic has been phenomenal. He left the game after six innings on Monday and instead of getting out of the park ASAP as some do, Alvarez stuck around for extra work.

Now Alvarez has stopped hitting from the pitch machine and Hurdle is on the mound throwing to him.

***

Paul Maholm threw 96 pitches in his start on Monday, putting him right where he needs to be with one more start left before the regular season. Maholm did allow nine hits on Monday; eight were singles. Maybe most impressive, though, was his work in the fifth. After the Twins loaded the bases with none out, Maholm induced a double play groundball. Though a run scored on the play, it put Maholm in position to get out of the inning with no further damage.

“I think you get in it and just have to slow it down and make a pitch and get your groundball and hope it’s at a guy and we turn a double play,” Maholm said. “You’ve got to have confidence in your infielders.”

The Twins’ hitters worked the counts well against Maholm, particularly the top four hitters (who combined for seven hits off the lefty). But Maholm did well throwing inside, and there seems to be little concern about him not being ready by April 1.

“I thought he pitched well today,” Hurdle said. “He was aggressive with his fastball. He threw some good changeups. Paul will give up some hits now and again, but he was aggressive. He was pitching to contact. It was a good outing.”

***

Speaking of Maholm, the Pirates will name him or Kevin Correia the team’s Opening Day starter this week. Hurdle said the announcement will not come on the off day (Tuesday), but expect it on Wednesday or Thursday.

***

Not everyone on the team will have Tuesday off. Jose Ascanio is slated to throw two innings of batting practice (35 total pitches) to hitters. There will also be a “B” game of some sort, in which Sean Gallagher, Jeff Karstens and Daniel McCutchen are listed to pitch. Karstens is scheduled to go four innings.

The Pirates are building up both Karstens and Brian Burres (who will pitch four or five innings in Wednesday’s game) in case either is needed in the rotation at the beginning of the year. This could be a sign that James McDonald might miss one turn through the rotation to open the season.

***

Catcher Chris Snyder took multiple at-bats in Minor League games (yes, games is plural) on Monday. He jumped around to a few fields to get at-bats where they could be had. Snyder is expected to catch in a Minor League game on Tuesday.

Ryan Doumit and Ronny Cedeno also went over to Minor League camp to get at-bats on Monday.

***

Steve Pearce made his first spring appearance in left field and did so without any issue. He wasn’t all that busy out there, but he seemed to handle the new spot just fine. He has now played at every corner infield and outfield spot this spring.

“He’s done fine wherever we put him,” Hurdle said.

***

Catcher Jason Jaramillo had another hit, bringing his spring total to 11 in 22 at-bats. Keep in mind that it might not matter if Jaramillo hits 1.000 — if the Pirates elect to keep just two catchers, he won’t be able to make the Opening Day roster. But that hasn’t stopped Jaramillo from making every effort he can to impress.

Hurdle noted on Monday that Jaramillo’s pitch calling and defense have also improved as spring has progressed.

“He’s worked very hard,” Hurdle said. “It’s gotten better each time out. Handling the ball, receiving the balls, it’s cleaned up. He’s slowed the game down, which I think was the biggest thing early in the spring was that games were moving real quick for him behind the plate. He’s showed up very, very good. I think he’s in a confident place and he’s worked very, very hard.”

***

I’ve finished typing and Hurdle is still out throwing BP to Alvarez, Fields and Rodriguez. Coaches, including Bill Virdon in left field, are still shagging balls.

Anyways, tomorrow is an off day for the team, though you can look for MLB.com’s Top 10 Pirates prospect list to be released during the day.

As for today’s content, you can read here all about Scott Olsen’s situation and Charlie Morton’s position in the rotation. There will also be notes about Garrett Olson’s debut, Garrett Atkins’ decision to ask for his release, a slew of injury updates and something short about the morning’s other roster moves on the site later tonight.

And since I forgot to do it this morning, your latest NCAA bracket update has T. Coulter and E. Brosius leading the group. My bracket… not looking so good at the moment.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Phillies 3, Pirates 2

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Most of what you’re going to want to read today is going to be on the pirates.com tonight, so I’ll refrain from rewriting all of that here. On the main site, you can read about…

  • The Pirates claimed lefty Garrett Olson off waivers and added him to the list of lefties trying to make the bullpen. GM Neal Huntington said the addition was to increase competition. I happen to believe it’s also the the result of the Pirates being worried about their other left-handed relief options.
  • Brad Lincoln left Friday’s game with a right forearm contusion, sustained when he was nailed by a line drive. We’ll know more about the injury on Saturday, but Lincoln didn’t seem to believe the ailment was anything serious. He got lucky that the ball did not hit any bone.
  • Kevin Hart will not be pitching in Pittsburgh until at least June. He has been placed on the 60-day disabled list as the slow recovery from right shoulder surgery continues.
  • Ryan Doumit went 0-for-2, was hit by a pitch and caught five innings in Friday’s game. He reported feeling just fine, so that oblique strain seems to be an issue of the past.

And below are the leftovers, which you will not find on the main site…

***

The Pirates lost this one on a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the ninth. Not that the loss means anything, but the club has now dropped six of its last seven games. Results, manager Clint Hurdle said afterward, will start meaning a little more pretty soon.

“I think right now we need to know what our personnel is,” Hurdle said. “We need to make sure that we get the questions answered that we have for ourselves coming in. The last week … there probably will be a heightened awareness of finishing games off at that point in time.”

***

As mentioned in the early blog, today was a day for those fighting for a bench spot to step up. Josh Rodriguez had a nice 2-for-3 day and Steve Pearce would have had two hits if he hadn’t been robbed on a terrific running catch in the sixth. But otherwise, there was little to get excited about offensively.

With an 0-for-3 day, Garrett Atkins has just one hit in his last 21 at-bats. That certainly is not helping his case in a four-man competition for the corner utility job. Andy Marte, on the other hand, had another hit on Friday and is now 9-for-23 this spring.

“I think we’re evaluating internally and we’ll keep it internal,” Hurdle said, when asked if anyone has stood out. “We’ll let people know as we do that. Obviously at this point in time, we’re close to having another round-them-up meeting to decide what we’re going to do with our personnel. I like the way everybody has gone about their work. I like that we have been able to move those guys fighting for the bench positions around.”

In other words, with 44 players in camp, expect another round of cuts to be coming soon. We are t-minus 14 days away from Opening Day.

***

I probably haven’t been giving Michael Crotta enough due this spring, but he has pitched quite well. Now, it should be mentioned that he has mostly faced reserves and Minor Leaguers since he’s been pitching late in games. But Crotta has gotten the ball down and made an impression.

With another scoreless inning on Friday, he has now not allowed a run in eight Grapefruit League innings. I don’t expect him to be in the Pirates’ bullpen right out of camp, but he could be a fit at some point during the season.

“He’s throwing strikes,” Hurdle said. “He continues to hold his own this spring. He’s done well.”

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Pirates 9, Red Sox 4

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

As the largest crowd in McKechnie Field history shuffles out of here, let’s get to some postgame leftovers…

***

Manager Clint Hurdle continues to experiment with a variety of lineups this spring. Hardly any two ever seem to be alike. He said he’ll continue to shuffle players around to see how guys fit in different spots until there are about 8-10 days left in Spring Training. At that point, Hurdle plans to use a batting order that will resemble the one he begins the season with.

Right now, the biggest question seems to be: Where will Andrew McCutchen bat? I continue to get the sense that Hurdle really likes McCutchen in the No. 3 spot, so don’t be surprised if he ends up there and Jose Tabata bats lead off to begin the year. Tabata hit from that top spot again on Sunday and drew his second walk of the spring.

“I’ve really liked his approach leading off,” Hurdle said of Tabata. “He’s shown some discipline. He’s had some walks. He can hit the ball the other way. He’s got speed when he gets on. He looks like that’s something that he’s able to do.”

***

It sounds as if the Pirates have already determined who the Opening Day starter will be, but that doesn’t mean Hurdle is ready to make an announcement. It didn’t sound like Hurdle plans to make anything official until about 10 days left in camp.

In the meantime, he seems to be having fun keeping the secret: “We might already have it lined up and you just don’t know it.”

I still have my money on Paul Maholm.

***

Over the last few weeks of Spring Training, the Pirates are going to continue to shuffle position players around to get them work at any position they might be called upon to play in emergency duty during the season. That’s why Tabata was out in center on Sunday and Pedro Ciriaco spent the final four innings playing third.

Also, look for Garrett Jones to get a little work at first base (insurance in case anything were to happen to Lyle Overbay) and for Josh Rodriguez to get some innings at third.

***

Brad Lincoln had a relatively easy first two innings on Sunday before struggling a bit in the third. The Red Sox scored twice against Lincoln, who also threw away the ball on an attempted pick-off, in that final frame he pitched. To Lincoln’s credit, he did bounce back and finish off the inning without letting it get any more out of control.

As much as Lincoln is set on proving he deserves that fifth spot in the rotation, I just get the feeling he’s headed back to Triple-A. And that’s not a feeling caused by anything Lincoln is or is not doing.

Assuming James McDonald doesn’t have a lingering injury, the Pirates still have just one rotation opening. Charlie Morton and Brian Burres have stood out this spring and are both serious contenders for that spot. And the Pirates aren’t counting out Scott Olsen just yet.

Lincoln could simply be hurt by having an option year left, meaning the Pirates can shuttle him back and forth from Triple-A to the Majors without the risk of losing him. The Pirates don’t enjoy that same flexibility with Morton.

One of the big things the Pirates said that they wanted to see from Lincoln this spring was continued development of and confidence to throw the changeup. How is the pitch coming along to this point?

“I like the fact that he is throwing it more,” Hurdle said. “He’s going to have to have a third pitch. He’s going to have to throw it in some offensive counts. I thought he got in some good rhythm today at times, and I thought there were a few times when he rushed. Happy the way he pinched off the one inning. He’s working in the right direction.”

***

The team is off to the new-and-improved Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota on Monday. I’ve heard the facelift done to the ballpark is terrific, so I’m excited to see it for myself. On the main site tonight, you’ll find notes about Olsen and Joe Beimel (who are making their respective spring debuts on Monday), another about Joel Hanrahan’s elusive slider and a third about Daniel McCutchen’s efforts to try and fit in.

Also, I’ve been asked already if I plan to run another Bucs Bits Bloggers Bracket Buster (say-that-five-times-fast) Challenge. And, indeed, I do. The college basketball selection show is tonight, so either tonight or tomorrow, I will create a friendly (but, of course, competitive) bracket tournament for any interested blog readers. Check back on the blog tomorrow for details on how to join.

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

Phillies 7, Pirates 4

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

On the main site tonight, you can find a look at Josh Rodriguez, the Pirates’ Rule 5 pick who is trying to make the club as a backup middle infielder. To this point, Rodriguez has looked like he is trying a bit too hard to make an impression. We’ll see if he can get his nerves in check and just allow himself to relax and play as camp continues on.

I’m not really sure who among Rodriguez, Corey Wimberly or Pedro Ciriaco would be considered the favorite for that bench spot yet. Ciriaco is the best defensively of the three, but there are concerns about his bat. Wimberly and Rodriguez have to show that they are strong enough to play short at the Major League level. Wimberly has intriguing speed. Rodriguez probably has the best long-term potential with the bat.

Could be an interesting race over the next three weeks.

Also on the main site, you’ll find notes about Paul Maholm wanting the Opening Day start, Kevin Correia commenting about his outing Friday, Ronny Cedeno being scratched with a finger injury, and Minor League pitcher Michael Dubee talking about the chance to pitch in front of his dad — Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee.

Also, don’t hesitate to send over some fresh Inbox questions over the weekend. If I can get enough good ones, I’ll put out an Inbox sometime next week. Remember to include your first name, last initial and hometown when you send your email to jenifer.langosch@mlb.com.

As for your leftovers…

***

Manager Clint Hurdle’s call for aggressive baserunning have been answered. Today, Neil Walker was thrown out trying to go first-to-third on a hard hit single to right. Phillies outfielder Wilson Valdez made a perfect throw to get Walker by a few steps. The attempt to take the extra base stalled a rally in the inning, but it’s what Hurdle wants to see at this point in spring.

Matt Diaz stole his first base of the spring after getting a single in the second. The Pirates now have 11 steals, a Grapefruit League high. The club has had three runners thrown out attempting to swipe a base.

***

Tony Sanchez, the Pirates’ top position player prospect and a first-round pick, finally got to see some Grapefruit League action. Sanchez had been solely watching from the bench since playing against the college kids, but Hurdle got him in to DH for the final few innings on Friday.

Despite not having played, Sanchez put together two pretty impressive at-bats. He fell into an 0-2 count his first time up, stayed alive and eventually ripped a ball down the left-field line for a double.

He fell into an 0-2 hole in his second at-bat, too, before taking three pitches to work the count full. Though Sanchez eventually was called out on strikes, his ability to work his way back into both at-bats was encouraging.

“Tony is going to be a good player,” Hurdle said afterward. “He is going to be a good hitter. He likes making things happen when he’s on offense. He is fun to watch.”

***

Fernando Nieve is not doing himself any favors in trying to earn a spot in the bullpen. He had another terrible outing on Friday. Nieve gave up five hits, four runs and walked one in 1 1/3 innings. This comes after he allowed three earned runs on five hits in one inning on February 28.

The Pirates signed Nieve to a Minor League deal over the winter. Much can still change, but at this point, plenty of other relief candidates have performed much better early.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Rule 5 results; Duke trade completed

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The Pirates selected shortstop Josh Rodriguez with the first pick of the Rule 5 Draft. GM Neal Huntington said Rodriguez will compete to make the team as a utility infielder.

“He’s a guy that will compete to make our club as our utility guy,” Huntington said. “He has solid defense at shortstop. He can swing the bat a little bit. He can bounce around and play second, short and third. You can probably run him into the outfield. He’s a guy that’s a good addition to the organization.”

Centerfielder Bradley Chalk and catcher Travis Scott were taken in the Triple-A phase of the Draft.

Pirates farmhand Nathan Adcock was taken by the Royals with the fifth pick of the Rule 5 Draft. Pittsburgh is hopeful that Adcock will not be able to stick on Kansas City’s roster all season, which would allow the Pirates to get him back.

“He gets the ball on the ground,” Huntington said. “He has an average fastball with the ability to get groundballs and there is a chance that he’ll stick. We knew by not protecting him that there was a pretty good chance of being selected. We’re disappointed to lose him, but we couldn’t protect them all.”

Pittsburgh also acquired right-hander pitcher Cesar Valdez on Thursday morning as the player-to-be-named in the Zach Duke trade. The Pirates had to wait until after the Rule 5 Draft to finalize the acquisition since Valdez was available to be taken.

“It’s a right-hander with heavy sink,” Huntington said of Valdez. “He gets a lot of groundballs. He’s going to mix-and-match. He’s going to hit his spots. He’s a guy that we feel can help maybe out of the bottom of the rotation or use as a long man. He’s a guy to add to our depth and our competition to make our club.”

Jerry Dipoto, the Dbacks’ vice president of scouting and player development had this to say on Valdez: “Cesar obviously got an opportunity to pitch for us in the big leagues last year [and] has been a good member of our organization. Hopefully this is an opportunity for him.”

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 594 other followers