Results tagged ‘ Kevin Correia ’
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
With last night a wash out, let’s try this again. Not much news to report on since no game has been played since Sunday afternoon, but here are a few news and notes to run through…
- Because of the rainout, Jeff Karstens will no longer slot into the rotation behind Kevin Correia (Wednesday) and Paul Maholm (Thursday). Now, Charlie Morton will start against the Reds on Friday, with James McDonald slated for Saturday. Right now, the Pirates are keeping Sunday’s starter as TBD — though it’s my guess that Karstens will pitch then.
- That would change if Karstens is needed out of the bullpen one of these next two days. And manager Clint Hurdle said Karstens will be available for relief duty through the end of the series against the Brewers.
- If Karstens is unable to pitch on Tuesday, the Pirates would almost certainly turn to Brian Burres. Sunday will be Burres’ scheduled day to pitch next.
- Hurdle talked for a while today about Texas’ Josh Hamilton’s ill-advised headfirst slide yesterday. Hamilton has landed on the DL because of it, and that prompted Hurdle to talk with the club again today reminding them that they do not need to be sliding headfirst, especially into home plate. The risk of injury outweighs the gamble of being safe.
- Interesting lineup switch in the last 24 hours. On Tuesday, Garrett Jones was slated to play against righty Shaun Marcum. Now, Matt Diaz is inserted into the lineup. Why the change when it’s still Marcum on the mound tonight? Hurdle said after sleeping on it, he opted to go with Diaz for a few reasons. Diaz is swinging the bat better at the moment, and right-handed hitters have actually fared better against Marcum than left-handers.
- The unexpected righty-lefty splits even prompted hitting coach Gregg Ritchie to talk to the team’s switch hitters about possibly hitting from the right side today. Normally, it would be a given that they’d take their swings left-handed against a right-handed pitcher. It’ll be interesting to see what Ryan Doumit and Neil Walker opt to do.
- Evan Meek is cleared and ready to pitch out of the ‘pen today.
- Joe Beimel reported no issues on Wednesday after pitching on back-to-back days earlier in the week. The Pirates are going to see how he is feeling tomorrow, but Hurdle strongly hinted that Beimel could be joining the team as early as Friday. The logisitics would be easy, as Indianapolis is just a two hour drive from Cincinnati.
- Righty Bryan Morris pitched six shutout innings in his second start for Double-A Altoona this season. He allowed four hits, walked one and struck out three in the outing on Tuesday. Morris was a candidate to start the year in Triple-A and very well could have if the Pirates didn’t need to keep some Major League arms (Burres, Sean Gallagher) there as insurance.
- Catcher Chris Snyder played his sixth game in as many days for Class A Advanced Bradenton on Tuesday. He went 1-for-4 with two runs scored.
PIRATES: J. Tabata (LF), N. Walker (2B), A. McCutchen (CF), L. Overbay (1B), M. Diaz (RF), P. Alvarez (3B), R. Doumit (C), R. Cedeno (SS), K. Correia (RHP)
BREWERS: R. Weeks (2B), C. Gomez (CF), R. Braun (LF), P. Fielder (1B), C. McGehee (3B), M. Kotsay (RF), R. Betancourt (SS), J. Lucroy (C), S. Marcum (RHP)
Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB
A beautiful day for baseball at PNC Park, where the Pirates have to win on Sunday to salvage a series split.
News and notes of the day…
- Manager Clint Hurdle definitively said that the Pirates will not carry three catchers when Chris Snyder returns. That means that Jason Jaramillo is playing on borrowed time. He will be the one sent down to Triple-A to make room for Snyder. One of the reasons for not going the three catcher route is because Ryan Doumit never had the opportunity to play right field this spring. He was going to get some work there beginning right about the time he ended up sidelined with an oblique strain.
- Speaking of Snyder, his rehab assignment is going well with Class A Advanced Bradenton. He drove in six on Friday before striking out three times on Saturday. The important thing, though, is that he is healthy and having no issues with his back. Snyder is scheduled to catch nine innings again on Sunday. The Pirates have not made their timetable for Snyder’s return public.
- The Pirates will turn to Daniel McCutchen on Sunday if the club needs someone in long relief.
- Also available in the ‘pen for sure will be Joel Hanrahan and Mike Crotta. Paul Maholm is on call, as well, since this is his day to throw on the side. He could throw as many as two innings, if needed.
- Asked about the way Saturday’s game had played out, Hurdle had this to offer… if the Pirates had tied the game in the ninth, Kevin Correia would have gone back out for a second inning of work. Hanrahan would have been the next option, followed by Maholm.
- “It’s a flat-out gamble every time you do it,” Hurdle said of his decision to lift Doumit for a pinch runner on Saturday and use his only other catcher to finish the game. If there were a situation when the second Pirates catcher also had to leave the game, Steve Pearce and Matt Diaz would be the emergency options.
- The Brewers will send out RHP Shawn Marcum, LHP Randy Wolf and LHP Chris Narveson out to start in the upcoming three-game series.
- Righty Brad Lincoln will be making his rehab start with Triple-A Indianapolis on Sunday. Expect him to be able to go about four innings (65 pitches) in the effort.
PIRATES: J. Tabata (LF), N. Walker (2B), A. McCutchen (CF), L. Overbay (1B), P. Alvarez (3B), R. Doumit (C), G. Jones (RF), R. Cedeno (SS), J. McDonald (RHP)
ROCKIES: D. Fowler (CF), J. Herrera (2B), J. Giambi (1B), T. Tulowitzki (SS), S. Smith (RF), J. Lopez (3B), T. Wigginton (LF), C. Iannetta (C), J. Chacin (RHP)
Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB
The Pirates are wrapping up their Thursday workout as I type — many of them donning ski masks and jackets to bear through it. Yes, it is cold. Quite cold. And Friday’s weather (which includes a forecast of rain and/or snow) is not looking any better.
That said, it’s hard not to be excited about another baseball season. And you should know that these players are more than ready to start playing games that count — no matter what the thermometer might read outside.
Manager Clint Hurdle has already posted his Opening Day lineup, and Cubs skipper Mike Quade has as well. Here are those:
PIRATES: Jose Tabata (LF), Neil Walker (2B), Andrew McCutchen (CF), Lyle Overbay (1B), Pedro Alvarez (3B), Ryan Doumit (C), Garrett Jones (RF), Ronny Cedeno (SS), Kevin Correia (RHP)
CUBS: Kosuke Fukudome (RF), Starlin Castro (SS), Marlon Byrd (CF), Aramis Ramirez (3B), Carlos Pena (1B), Geovany Soto (C), Alfonso Soriano (LF), Darwin Barney (2B), Ryan Dempster (RHP)
Caught up with Correia briefly this afternoon to get his thoughts on tomorrow’s start, and I’ll share those with you here:
On how he feels the day before his first Opening Day start: “I just threw. My arm feels good and I’m ready to go.”
On whether the cold weather might be a factor: “It’s not that big of a deal really. Once you get going, you always end up warm eventually.’
On important of team starting off strong: “It is nice to get off to a good start. It just kind of gets your confidence rolling going into the year. If you start off losing games, it’s just not conducive to getting on a good streak. When you’re in a position like we are, any time we can win a series, it’s going to be important – especially against division rivals.”
On where this ranks among his career starts: “It’s a pretty important game just because it’s Opening Day. But when you get later in the season, you get games that mean a lot more. It’s not an extremely important game like you may pitch later in the year, but the whole hoopla with the start of the baseball season, it’s one of the most exciting games I’ll pitch in my career.”
Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB
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:
- Catcher Chris Snyder is at risk to miss the start of the season after a reoccurrence of back soreness. If Snyder is out, Ryan Doumit and Jason Jaramillo will open the year as the team’s two catchers.
- With Andy Marte among those dismissed from camp, Steve Pearce appears to have himself a big league bench spot.
- Brian Burres was sent down, leaving three relievers fighting for two bullpen spots.
- James McDonald successfully threw three innings in a Triple-A game on Saturday, which sets him up to pitch again on Thursday.
- With Corey Wimberly and Dusty Brown out of the mix, the bench is coming into better focus. John Bowker, Pedro Ciriaco and Josh Rodriguez are competing for two spots (assuming Jaramillo begins the year as Doumit’s backup).
- Manager Clint Hurdle has solidified his lineup. And it has Jose Tabata batting first, Andrew McCutchen hitting third, Lyle Overbay in the fourth spot and Pedro Alvarez at No. 5.
You won’t find Kevin Correia complaining much about his start on Saturday — a start in which he threw 92 pitches (59 strikes) in six innings. This was his first six-inning outing of the spring, and it puts Correia in perfect position to be ready for his Opening Day start next Friday.
The results were pretty good, too. He served up a two-run homer to Alex Rodriguez in the first inning after narrowly missing with a two-strike slider to Mark Teixeira right before. Correia then limited the Yankees (who played mostly their “A” lineup) to just four more hits and one other run in his last six innings.
“I thought it was definitely my best outing in spring,” Correia. “I felt strong the whole time. You want your last Spring Training outing to be good. You don’t want to go into the season thinking about how you didn’t pitch well the time before. I felt pretty good about this one.”
The one thing the Pirates don’t have to worry about is Correia not being stretched out to begin the year. He has done as well as anyone on the staff in terms of getting in the spring innings necessary to pitch deep at the onset of the regular season. With 92 pitches on Saturday, Correia should be good to go over 100, as needed, on Opening Day.
“I thought he got stronger as he went on,” Hurdle said. “He expects a lot of himself. He never shuts himself down on an inning or an outing. He takes a lot of pride in getting the ball and pitching deep and getting as many innings as he can get. I thought it was a very good way for him to finish up.”
Correia will get five days of rest (instead of the normal four) before his next outing.
Michael Crotta allowed one run on two hits in an inning of relief, but he remains very much in the mix for a bullpen spot in Pittsburgh. One of three relievers fighting for two openings in the bullpen, Crotta hadn’t allowed an earned run (10 innings) until this game.
“He is a big guy,” Hurdle said. “He repeats his delivery pretty well. He’s got good downhill plane. It’s hard sink and he’s added a complementary breaking ball to it at times. He’s pounded the strikezone. He has done everything that he can possibly do to at least build his confidence.”
Don’t look now, but the Pirates have dropped five in a row and nine of the last 11. That’s not exactly the way I’d imagine the club wants to head into the regular season. Hurdle, however, downplayed the importance of needing some wins this week when asked about the losing afterward.
“We play every game to win but if we don’t, we don’t,” he said. “We’re going to start the season and we’re not going to have any. You’ve got to play good baseball to win and we haven’t played complete games for the last 10-11 games. You have to throw a complete package out there. I’ll be more concerned when we’re running our regular team out there. Winning is always the intent, but again the focus will obviously shift to a higher degree of that once the season starts.”
With four spring games remaining, the Pirates are 10-19.
“We’ve got to go out and win ballgames and find ways to win ballgames,” first baseman Lyle Overbay said. “I think we need to do a little better job of picking each other up when things go wrong. It seems like it starts snowballing, and someone needs to pick us up – whether it’s a pitcher or a great defensive play – to snap us right out of it.”
Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB
Pirates starter Ross Ohlendorf lasted only 4 2/3 innings on Thursday night… meaning that he still has not been able to finish five innings in a spring outing. In comparison, Kevin Correia and Paul Maholm have already done so twice.
Ohlendorf has already been named No. 3 in the Pirates’ five-man rotation, so this isn’t a case where he is pitching for a spot on the roster. Rather, Ohlendorf is pitching to get himself ready for the season — and given his recent results, there still appears work to be done.
Ohlendorf gave up six runs (five earned) on nine hits and two walks while on the mound against Baltimore. Two of his innings were strong; the other three, not so much. This comes, too, after the righty allowed 10 earned runs in his last two outings (five innings) combined.
His troubles on Thursday included giving up three home runs — one to Mark Reynolds, another to Luke Scott and the other to Felix Pie.
“It is still not as good as I would like it to be, but I still thought it was better than last time,” Ohlendorf said afterward. “I’ve been up in the zone too much. I feel like I was better today, but still not as good as I need to be. The fourth inning I was really happy with. The third inning, I thought, went pretty well. But I still need to pitch better.”
There has been a lack of efficiency, in particular, for Ohlendorf this spring. That’s the main reason why he has not been able to log as many innings as other starters in camp. Is it a concern that Ohlendorf has not yet finished five innings? He said no. Hurdle had this to say, when asked if there is concern about these struggles bleeding into the regular season:
“We’re going to find out when the regular season comes,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “All of us know the season is coming. Every starter knows his role. He’s got to give us length. It’s not so much the quantity as the quality that has to improve in his case. He’s aware of that. Once the bell rings, we’ll see where we go from there. He’s got work in front of him.”
Ohlendorf will have one more tune up before he takes the mound on Sunday, April 3, in Chicago. In addition to continuing to build up his arm (which physically is fine, Ohlendorf said), he needs to focus on not overthrowing. He’s struggled with this — and handling the need to be quicker to the plate while holding on runners — throughout spring.
“The first two innings and the fifth inning, I just think he gets in the routine where he starts overpowering the ball,” Hurdle said. “He throws through his slider. His fastball gets up and gets flat. We’ve got work to do. There is no doubt about that. What’s he’s got to find a way to do is when he gets amped up, he’s got to back away and get back to pitching. It’s inconsistent.”
Garrett Olson did not help his argument for deserving a spot in the Pirates’ bullpen with his showing on Thursday. After pitching a scoreless inning in his Pirates debut on Monday, Olson labored through one inning against Baltimore.
The Orioles scored three times off Olson, who gave up three hits, two walks and threw a wild pitch.
The Pirates have been adamant with their promise to take their seven best relievers north and not to meet any sort of righty-lefty quota. If that is truly the case, you have to wonder if Olson would deserve to be in. He has certainly not outpitched Mike Crotta (and others) at this point.
If Joe Beimel is not ready to start the season with the big league club it will be really interesting to see if the Pirates would be willing to go without a left-hander in the ‘pen.
Everything else of interest tonight can be found on the main site. That includes a full story on the Pirates’ rotation/Opening Day starter decision, which can be found here. By the end of the night there will also be items on Neil Walker’s four-hit game, Lyle Overbay’s strong spring start at the plate, Charlie Morton’s thoughts on being in the rotation and a look at the Pirates’ bullpen puzzle as it is now.
Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB
The news of the day came just about two hours ago, when manager Clint Hurdle named Kevin Correia the Opening Day starter. My guess had been that Paul Maholm would get the assignment and that Correia would pitch the home opener at PNC Park for a handful of reasons, one being Maholm’s tenure with the club. But the Pirates decided to go in a different direction.
Correia will face Chicago’s Ryan Dempster in that April 1 game at Wrigley Field.
Hurdle also announced that the rotation would go in this order: Correia, Maholm, Ross Ohlendorf, Charlie Morton and James McDonald.
All this is set assuming that McDonald can get his arm built back up in time. The hope is that he can extend himself to 50 pitches in an outing on Saturday. Then, McDonald would stay in Florida to pitch on March 31 — with the goal being 80 pitches. If McDonald can reach both of those thresholds without any setback, Hurdle said the team would be comfortable having McDonald start on April 6 in St. Louis.
As for the rest of your news…
- Catcher Chris Snyder returns behind the plate on Thursday after missing two weeks with back soreness. He hasn’t had any back issues since resuming hitting and catching over the past few days.
- Joe Beimel was scheduled to throw off the mound on Thursday. The Pirates haven’t announced what his progression will be from there, as Beimel returns from left elbow discomfort. One thing to keep in mind — if Beimel does not pitch in a Grapefruit League game the rest of the way, the Pirates would have the option of placing him on the DL to begin the season. And the club could make that DL stint retroactive to March 22. This means that Beimel would be eligible to come off on April 6. Going this route would give Beimel — who has made just two appearances so far this spring — a bit more time to prepare for the season but wouldn’t cost him the usual 15 days.
- The Pirates’ other option is not to put Beimel on the 40-man roster until he’s healthy. Doing this would negate needing a DL stint since Beimel is a non-roster player right now.
- Hurdle said that the club has already picked additional pitchers to be in the team’s bullpen, but he would not give names at this point. You’d have to guess that in addition to Evan Meek and Joel Hanrahan that Chris Resop, Jose Veras and Jeff Karstens are in. So, too, is Beimel once he is healthy. I also get the impression that Garrett Olson has a real strong shot to be the seventh since he would give the Pirates another left-handed option.
- If Beimel does not start the season with the club, the Pirates can choose any one of the number of right-handers left in camp to take his spot in the ‘pen until he returns.
PIRATES: A. McCutchen (CF), J. Tabata (LF), L. Overbay (1B), N. Walker (2B), P. Alvarez (3B), G. Jones (RF), R. Cedeno (SS), C. Snyder (C), R. Ohlendorf
Pitchers: R. Ohlendorf (5/6 innings), E. Meek, G. Olson, C. Leroux
ORIOLES: B. Roberts (2B), N. Markakis (RF), D. Lee (1B), V. Guerrero (DH), L. Scott (LF), F. Pie (CF), M. Reynolds (3B), M. Weiters (C), J.J. Hardy (SS)
Pitchers: J. Arrieta, M. Hendrickson, K. Gregg
Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB
Manager Clint Hurdle announced on Thursday that right-hander Kevin Correia will pitch the season opener in Chicago on April 1. The nod was going to go to Correia or Paul Maholm, who will follow Correia in the rotation and will now pitch the home opener (April 7).
The full rotation will be as follows: Correia, Maholm, Ross Ohlendorf, Charlie Morton and James McDonald.
Correia had this to say about being named the Opening Day starter: “It’s a good honor for me, but I know there is a lot of work that is going to be involved with every five days. It’s not just one start. Every one is important. It is nice to go out there on a day that kicks off the season, but like I said in the past, in our rotation we need every one of these guys to pitch like they’re the best pitcher on the staff at some point in the year for us to do what we need to do. I am excited about it, but I do know that there is a lot of work.”
This will be Correia’s first Opening Day start of his career.
Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB
In case you missed it earlier, here is information on Joe Beimel, who did not pitch on Sunday after feeling some tightness in his left elbow. This isn’t a good thing, considering we’re less than two weeks away from Opening Day.
Beimel has only made two appearances so far, and he’s going to miss at least a little bit of time right now. This setback could make the addition of Garrett Olsen that much more important, as he gives the Pirates another potential left-handed reliever option.
General manager Neal Huntington did reiterate after Saturday’s game that the acquisition of Olsen was independent of anything wrong with Beimel. The fact that Beimel first started feeling the tightness on Saturday and then said it increased overnight supports that assertion.
Hurdle confirmed that either Paul Maholm or Kevin Correia will be the team’s Opening Day starter in Chicago. An announcement on the choice will come sometime after Maholm pitches on Monday.
“We’re getting closer,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We’ve categorized all the numbers. We have all the information we need. With us, it’s not so much our No. 1; it’s our best way to set up the rotation as we move forward. We’re still considering some things.”
Correia threw about 80 pitches in his five-inning start on Saturday. He worked his way out of a first-and-third, nobody-out jam in the first thanks, in part, to a great double play started by Neil Walker.
That allowed Correia to settle in.
“It’s a big pick up,” Correia said of getting out of trouble. “To get that kind of rejuvenates you and wakes you up and gets you going.”
He gave up three runs (two earned) in the fifth, but had minimal trouble in between. Correia’s curveball wasn’t as sharp as it has been at times this spring, but he did have a pretty effective slider working.
“I thought he overthrew early, settled down and got in a real good rhythm,” Hurdle said. “He got the ball down. He used his cutter, threw some good breaking balls. The one thing you can’t replicate is getting the pitcher on base to have to run bases and go out and pitch an inning.”
Correia did spend a good amount of time on the bases. He singled in both at-bats and ended up moving to third on an error right after collecting the second of those two hits. In comparison, the Red Sox’s DH had just one hit in the game.
Don’t count out John Bowker in the competition for a bench spot. He has now hit safely in nine of his last 12 games after knocking a home run in his only at-bat on Saturday. The home run came on — you guessed it — a fastball. Bowker has shown no problem hitting fastballs; having more success with breaking pitches is where development is still needed.
Bowker is 9-for-30 this spring.
“It’s going well,” he said. “I’m trying to just get that rhythm and get the timing down like everybody else.”
Bowker is in a different position than most, though. He is out of options, meaning that the Pirates would have to put him on waivers if they don’t add him to the roster. The Pirates already have four outfielders (and maybe five if you count Ryan Doumit as more than a backup catcher).
But Bowker has an ability to play either corner spot and first (as well as center in an emergency), so his versatility could help him earn his way on. The question then would be whether Bowker could thrive in bench role without consistent at-bats.
“That’s something you learn over time when you’re not getting those regular at-bats,” Hurdle said. “The one thing he’s done throughout his career is light up the fastball. I think the thing he is learning is that word gets around the league.”
On the main site tonight, you can find injury updates on Brad Lincoln, Chris Snyder and Beimel, as well as Kevin Hart’s reaction to being placed on the DL and a closer look at the middle infield competition.
On a side note, I’m off tomorrow and will not be with the team during the day. I’ll be back blogging on Monday.
Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB
Centerfielder Andrew McCutchen really can do it all.
After losing his glove over the outfield wall trying to make a jumping catch to save a homer, McCutchen took matters into his own hands… or feet. The outfielder scaled the wall, retrieved his glove and jumped back over the wall to get ready for the next play.
“He’s got six tools,” manager Clint Hurdle joked. “We saw the sixth tool today.”
While we’re on the subject of McCutchen, it’s also worth noting that he stole his second base of the spring on Monday. He went to second despite there being a runner at third, no outs and Pedro Alvarez (hitting fourth) at the plate. I had been wondering if McCutchen’s speed would be harnessed if he hit third, but Hurdle emphatically said that will not be the case.
It doesn’t matter who is hitting behind McCutchen, the outfielder will be mostly free (and encouraged) to run.
“You have to remember who we are,” Hurdle said. “Our four hitter right now, we want to get runners in scoring position for him. If Pedro is hot and rolling during the season, we might not take as many chances. But we’ve got usable speed and if we can go get a base, we’re planning on going and getting a base.
“We’ve got to take some chances. Pedro is a power hitter in growth. It’s not like we’re running with [Albert] Pujols up at the plate. It’s a whole different complex, a whole different dynamic. We want to keep this mindset of going, of being aggressive, especially with Andrew. I do think that’s a part of his game that he can continue to open up more and we don’t want to take that away at all if he ends up in the three spot.”
Keep in mind, too, that if McCutchen is a threat to run with Alvarez at the plate, it is likely to increase the number of fastballs Alvarez sees. That is a really good thing for the Pirates.
Kevin Correia became the first Pirates starter to throw five innings in a start this spring, and the right-hander was pretty efficient (less than 70 pitches) in doing so. He breezed through three innings before running into some trouble in the fourth — trouble, Correia said, that was brought about mostly because he found himself rushing his delivery to try to keep runners from stealing.
“I know that’s something that I tend to do when guys get on base so I need to work on it before the season starts,” Correia said. “I was quick to the plate and just didn’t get the ball to that [inside] side of the plate. That was the one thing today that I don’t think I did very well. But everything else I felt pretty good on.”
Correia had a particularly good curveball, though he seemed most pleased by how he threw his changeup, since that is a pitch that has not come along as quickly this spring. The slider was so-so, but Correia expects it to come around soon.
In all, the Orioles tallied seven hits and four earned runs against Correia. He didn’t walk a batter after issuing three in his previous start.
Back at Pirate City, right-hander Charlie Morton threw four innings (63 pitches) in a Minor League game. He gave up three runs — all on a home run — in an outing that I heard was otherwise sharp. Morton needed to get the work in after not having pitched since last Wednesday.
I got a report from that game that things did not go so smoothly for Tim Alderson. You’ll remember that he is the pitcher the Pirates got straight up for Freddy Sanchez. Alderson has lost velocity and confidence and it’s looking highly unlikely that he’ll ever live up to the prospect status he once enjoyed.
Infielder Pedro Ciriaco continues to impress and, in my opinion, distance himself from the other middle infield competition. He made a terrific relay throw to get a runner trying to go to third, and he continues to hit. With two more hits on Monday, Ciriaco is now 10-for-27 this spring.
“He’s got a gun,” Hurdle said. “The arm strength is there. It’s a big arm. And it took a big arm to make that play. That’s one thing we’ve seen from Pedro.”
Ciriaco has already gotten work at second, third and short in Grapefruit League games. Now, the Pirates have him doing a little work in center field in the mornings to get comfortable there. Before the end of Spring Training, look for Ciriaco to play some outfield in an actual game.
Steve Pearce and Jason Jaramillo joined Ciriaco and McCutchen with multi-hit games on Monday. For Pearce, the pair of hits comes just after he eliminated his leg kick in order to have have a more compact swing.
Jaramillo has quietly had one of the best offensive springs in camp. Now 8-for-15, the catcher is hoping to hush concerns about the lack of offensive punch he showed last year.
Another reminder that if you want to join the Bucs Bits Bloggers NCAA tourney challenge, the group is open and taking competitors now. You can sign up here and type in Bucs Bits Bloggers to find/join our group.
On the main site today, you will find Daniel Moskos’ reaction (and the team’s explanation) to the decision that he will begin the year in Triple-A, rather than the Pirates’ bullpen. That story is here. There will also be items about Scott Olsen and Joe Beimel making their debuts; James McDonald missing his next start; Alex Presley bummed by being sent out of camp; and what positions some of these Triple-A players are going to fill.
Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB