Results tagged ‘ Justin Thomas ’

Atkins released; Thomas, Nieve reassigned

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Infielder Garrett Atkins has been unconditionally released by the Pirates, thereby ending his chances to make the team as a backup corner infielder. Atkins was apparently given the news on Sunday and was not in the clubhouse on Monday morning for comment.

Atkins, who signed a Minor League deal with Pittsburgh over the winter, went 4-for-31 and struck out 11 times. It’s unknown whether Atkins is going to try to sign elsewhere or if this will mark the end of his MLB career.

In addition to sending Atkins out, the Pirates reassigned Justin Thomas and Fernando Nieve to Minor League camp. Both signed Minor League deals over the winter and should start out the year in Triple-A Indianapolis’ bullpen. Thomas’ departure means that there is one less left-hander vying for a spot in the Pirates’ bullpen.

The Pirates now have 41 players left in camp.

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Pirates 2, Yankees 0

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Granted, the Yankees didn’t bring many of their big guns to McKechnie Field on Tuesday. But a shutout is a shutout, and the Pirates were pleased to see all six of their pitchers come in and toss a scoreless inning or two.

The win was the third in five games for the Pirates this spring, and it gives the club back-to-back Grapefruit League victories for the first time since 2009. Yes, that is correct. The team did not win consecutive games once last spring.

The news of the day came this morning, as lefty Joe Beimel had to stop throwing because of more discomfort in his left throwing arm. You can read here to get a closer look at what other left-handed options the Pirates have should Beimel be sidelined into the season. I’ll give you the answer: not many. That doesn’t mean someone can’t step up, of course. But no matter how much the Pirates say they don’t mind going with no left-handed relievers if their best seven are all righties, I just can’t see that happening.

Beimel is undergoing an MRI as I type, though it’s not clear if the Pirates will reveal the results tonight. If not, we should know tomorrow morning how serious an issue this could be.

In today’s Bucs Beat, you’ll find additional injury updates (Scott Olsen, Evan Meek, Jose Ascanio), as well as a look into what James McDonald defines as his season goal. Check the main site later for those items.

As for your leftovers…

***

A little more on McDonald’s start… It’s hard to compare two-inning spring outings, but McDonald appeared, to me, to be as sharp as any Pirates starter to take the mound yet. He was efficient and aggressive, not that the latter was ever much of a problem for McDonald last year.

He threw strikes, got ahead more times than not and got outs early in the count. These are all good early signs for a pitcher who has struggled to keep his pitch count low enough to go deep into his starts before.

McDonald threw mostly fastballs on Tuesday, mixing in one cutter, which is a pitch he is working to use more. Asked where he is in his Spring Training progression, McDonald said: “Actually, I feel like I’m a little ahead right now [compared to years' past]. I was surprised how well I could go side-to-side over the plate. I am pretty happy with myself with the way I’m going.”

The most impressive thing, in my opinion, about McDonald so far is his attitude. He has every intention to lead by example, and for McDonald, that begins by not assuming that a spot in the rotation is already his.

“I’ve got to keep working to show my guys that I’m working really hard and that I’m not going to go through Spring Training like it’s a cakewalk because I’ve already made the team,” he said. “I don’t take it for granted that I’m on the team and sit back and relax.”

***

If anyone is more determined this spring than Steve Pearce, I haven’t seen it. Talk about someone on a mission. In addition to doing everything he needs to do to prove he’s good enough to play third base, Pearce just looks like he refuses to be outworked by anyone.

He had a double in his only at-bat on Tuesday and swiped third base. He also made a nice catch in foul territory over the dugout railing. He has an extra bounce to his step that is noticeable and is out to give the Pirates no choice but to take him to Pittsburgh.

If he doesn’t make the roster out of Spring Training, I wouldn’t want to be the one to tell him.

***

As mentioned in the main story on pirates.com, Justin Thomas believes that, if Beimel is out with an injury, that he has the ability to step up and play an important role in the Pirates’ bullpen. The left-hander has not established himself as a consistent Major League reliever yet, but Thomas believes he is ready to make that step forward this year.

“I know what is expected from me,” he said. “I just need to do it now. I’m at the point in my career where I’ve had a couple stints in the Major Leagues with a couple different teams. I just need to be there and prove that I belong there. I want to be a guy who isn’t just good enough to be there when they need you but who is good enough to be there all the time.”

Thomas could have two new pitches at his disposal out of the ‘pen this year, too. He said he threw a lot of curveballs in winter ball this year and has a better feel for the pitch as a result. He is also in the process of adding a cutter to his repertoire.

The Pirates aren’t likely to throw Thomas into a set-up role right away, instead preferring to use more experienced right-handers (think: Evan Meek, Chris Resop) in those late-inning spots early. But there’s no question that the club would benefit if Thomas steps up and shows he deserves to pitch in higher leverage spots.

***

Credit Daniel McCutchen with a nice bounceback performance after a rocky Grapefruit League appearance over the weekend. On Saturday, McCutchen was knocked for three runs on two hits and two walks. His command was quite suspect.

On Tuesday, he retired all six batters he faced. And McCutchen did so quickly.

I still suspect that McCutchen will begin the season in the Triple-A Indianapolis rotation, but he is out here competing for a bullpen spot. And actually, McCutchen could be better suited for a bullpen role long-term. He has a bulldog mentality and I could see him benefiting from going all out for one inning rather than having to hold back to ensure longevity.

“I really like the way that he responded from his last outing,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “He went and filled the plate up with strikes, got after people. He’ll feel a lot better about himself tonight and that’s always good for all our guys. I like what I saw out of him today. He’s one of the guys that we’re expecting to see take a step forward and compete this spring.”

***
The second save of the spring for the Pirates goes to Daniel Moskos, who had plenty of experience notching them while in the closer’s role with Altoona last year. Moskos rebounded nicely after issuing a one-out walk that brought the tying run to the plate. He appeared plenty poised working around the trouble. 

“Daniel is competing,” Hurdle said. “I think he was slowing himself down a little bit and gathering himself a little better than he was last time out. He got outs when we needed him there. He’s coming along. We just need him to go pitch, make pitches, have confidence in himself, not let the game speed him up.”

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Winter ball update

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Here is another winter ball update for you:

Venezuela Winter League

SS Ronny Cedeno: 19 G, .279 BA, 9 R, 3 2B, 4 HR, 14 RBI
2B Adenson Chourio: 11 G, .000 BA, 2 R
SS Argenis Diaz: 19 G, .186 BA, 6 R, 3 RBI
C Hector Gimenez: 26 G, .247 BA, 12 R, 2 2B, 4 HR, 16 RBI
OF Lastings Milledge: 20 G, .260 BA, 13 R, 2 2B, 3 HR, 11 RBI
RHP Gabriel Alvarado: 2 G, 0.2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER
LHP Sean Gallagher: 3-2, 8 G (5 GS), 29 IP, 28 H, 12 ER, 4 HR, 17 BB, 25 K
LHP Corey Hamman: 1-0, 14 G, 1 SV, 10.2 IP, 14 H, 8 ER, 4 HR, 4 BB, 10 K
RHP Jean Machi: 3-0, 15 G, 5 SV, 17 IP, 13 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 15 K
RHP Diego Moreno: 4 G, 3.2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
LHP Jhonathan Ramos: 2-0, 10 G, 8.2 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 HR, 5 K
LHP Justin Thomas: 1-2, 9 G (4 GS), 19.1 IP, 22 H, 11 ER, 3 HR, 10 BB, 14 K

Dominican Winter League

SS Pedro Ciriaco: 14 G, .204 BA, 1 2B, 1 3B, 5 R
C Jason Jaramillo: 16 G, .217 BA, 3 R, 2 2B, 3 RBI
OF Starling Marte: 21 G, .224 BA, 7 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI
RHP Michael Dubee: 1-0, 14 G, 17 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 7 BB, 14 K
RHP Charlie Morton: 0-1, 3 GS, 15 IP, 11 H, 3 ER, 1 HR, 2 BB, 14 K

Australian Baseball League

OF Quincy Latimore: 12 G, .400 BA, 12 R, 4 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 16 RBI
LHP Rinku Singh: 2 G, 4.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 2 K  

Puerto Rican Winter League

SS Benji Gonzalez: 13 G, .160 BA, 6 R, 1 2B  

Mexican Winter League

OF Rogelio Noris: 27 G, .266 BA, 11 R, 4 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBI 

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Bucs ink Thomas to Minor League deal

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Lefty reliever Justin Thomas has agreed to a Minor League contract with the Pirates for 2011. The deal includes an invitation for Thomas to participate in Spring Training with the Major League club.

Thomas was removed from the Pirates’ 40-man roster last week and subsequently rejected his outright assignment to Triple-A. That meant he was free to declare himself a Minor League free agent, which he did briefly, before resigning with Pittsburgh.

As was the case this past spring, Thomas will be competing for a spot in a Pirates’ bullpen that currently only has two set pieces – Evan Meek and Joel Hanrahan - for next year. Thomas, 26, made 12 relief appearances for Pittsburgh in 2010. He allowed nine earned runs on 21 hits in 13 innings.

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Bucs make roster moves

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The Pirates just announced that they have made the following roster moves:

  • LHP Wil Ledezma, who was to be eligibile for arbitration this winter, has agreed to a one-year contract for 2011.
  • RHP Ross Ohlendorf, RHP Jose Ascanio and 1B Steve Pearce have been reinstated off the 60-day disabled list and put back on Pirates’ 40-man roster.
  • 1B Jeff Clement was removed from 60-day disabled list and outrighted to Triple-A Indianapolis
  • The following players were removed from 40-man roster and outrighted to Triple-A: OF Brandon Moss, LHP Justin Thomas, RHP Sean Gallagher, RHP Steven Jackson
  • RHP Chan Ho Park has been taken off the 40-man roster, as he is now a free agent.

UPDATE/CLARIFICATION:

  • Because they have already been outrighted off a 40-man roster before, Moss, Thomas and Jackson are now free to declare Minor League free agency immediately. Expect each of the three to do so very soon.
  • Gallagher has accrued enough Minor League service time to also become a Minor League free agent, but he can’t do that immediately like the aforementioned guys. The Pirates have until 5 p.m. ET to try and negotiate a contract (techincally called a successor contract) with Gallagher to keep him. The Pirates are believed to be making such an attempt to resign Gallagher.
  • Clement doesn’t have the service time to become a Minor League free agent, so he will remain on Indianapolis’ roster. He should be invited to big league camp next spring, though he might still be recovering from knee surgery.

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September 7: Braves (79-59) @ Pirates (46-91)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

With the Braves sitting only 1/2 game ahead of the Phillies in the NL East standings, the Pirates will have the chance to affect that race one way or another these next two nights. Pittsburgh finished 4-2 against the Phillies this season. Currently, the Braves hold a 5-2 advantage in their season series against Pittsburgh.

The Pirates’ clubhouse got much more crowded today, as eight players from Triple-A Indianapolis’ club have arrived. That group includes Pedro Ciriaco, Jason Jaramillo, Brandon Moss, Alex Presley, Brian Bass, Steven Jackson, Brad Lincoln and Justin Thomas. Much much more on roles and expected playing time on the main site later today.


Thumbnail image for Braves.jpgBRAVES:
O. Infante (2B), J. Heyward (RF), M. Prado (3B), B. McCann (C), D. Lee (1B), M. Cabrera (LF), A. Gonzalez (SS), R. Ankiel (CF), T. Hudson (RHP)

Hudson vs. PIT: 5-3 in 9 starts, 62.1 IP, 48 H, 17 ER, 4 HR, 18 BB, 41 K


pirates.jpgPIRATES:
A. McCutchen (CF), J. Tabata (LF), N. Walker (2B), G. Jones (1B), P. Alvarez (3B), R. Doumit (RF), R. Cedeno (SS), C. Snyder (C), J. McDonald (RHP)

McDonald vs. ATL: 0-0 in 2 games, 4 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 BB, 5 K

 

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Knee irritation lands Clement on DL

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The Pirates have placed first baseman Jeff Clement on the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to Aug. 21) due to left knee irritation. At this point, the cause of the irritation isn’t known, though that will obviously be a point of discussion once the clubhouse opens later this afternoon.

Coming up in Clement’s place is left-hander Justin Thomas. This will mark the third time that Thomas has come up to Pittsburgh this season. So far, he’s 0-0 with a 6.23 ERA in seven appearances. Thomas, who gives the Pirates a second lefty in the bullpen, is expected to be in uniform for tonight’s game. The Pirates now have an eight-man bullpen.

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August 1: Pirates (36-67) @ Cardinals (58-46)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

As expected, the Pirates have recalled lefty Justin Thomas on Sunday. That gives the Pirates six bullpen arms for the series finale. James McDonald, acquired in the Octavio Dotel trade on Saturday, is expected to join the club Monday or Tuesday in Pittsburgh to complete the roster.


pirates.jpgPIRATES:
A. McCutchen (CF), J. Tabata (LF), N. Walker (2B), G. Jones (1B), P. Alvarez (3B), L. Milledge (RF), R. Cedeno (SS), J. Jaramillo (C), Z. Duke (LHP)

Duke vs. STL: 4-5 in 14 starts, 86 IP, 99 H, 33 ER, 6 HR, 20 BB, 43 K

 


Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Cardinals.jpgCARDINALS:
F. Lopez (3B), J. Jay (RF), A. Pujols (1B), M. Holliday (LF), Y. Molina (C), C. Rasmus (CF), B. Ryan (SS), A. Wainwright (RHP), A. Miles (2B)

Wainwright vs. PIT: 6-2 in 15 games, 71 IP, 85 H, 40 ER, 3 HR, 26 BB, 56 K

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Putting a bowtie on the Trade Deadline

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Wow. So much for the expectation of a slower-than-usual Deadline day. Granted, this Trade Deadline period hasn’t been anything like it was last year, but it got pretty busy in the last 24 hours.

In order to help you sift through all the coverage from today, here it is itemized with links to take you to what you want to read.

That should get you through today’s non-game content. Would love to hear your thoughts on the Pirates’ deals of the last 24 hours. I will tell you this — have heard from multiple reputable baseball folks (not within the Pirates organization) who lauded Huntington’s return for a group of players that were not going to be cornerstones of the organization.

Obviously, it’s going to take years to see how good or bad each trade turns out to be. But considering the Bucs did not give up any starting pitchers or starting position players, there’s a good chance the scales could ultimately tip in their favor. The bench and bullpen are the two easiest aspects of a club to rebuild in the winter, and that’s where all the subtractions came from.

Your thoughts?

McCutchen to spot start on Saturday

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The Pirates aren’t going to “officially” name a spot starter for Saturday, but some simple deduction points to one guy — Daniel McCutchen. Manager John Russell even hinted at such this afternoon.

The other three previous candidates won’t be available — Dana Eveland (designated for assignment), Brian Burres (started for Triple-A Indy yesterday) and Charlie Morton (starting for Indy tonight).

Plus… I just saw a No. 34 McCutchen jersey dropped off in the Pirates’ clubhouse. I’d call that a giveaway.

The announcement won’t come until after Friday’s game because the Pirates want to stick with an eight-man bullpen until then. Steven Jackson or Justin Thomas will likely be sent back to Indianapolis to make room for McCutchen, and my guess is that it will be Jackson.

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