Results tagged ‘ Nate McLouth ’

McLouth speaks about Pirates, Braves and contacts

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Nate McLouth ended up speaking to the Pittsburgh media contingent after all, after he exited Thursday’s Grapefruit League game. And he had some strikingly pointed comments to offer regarding his former organization. Here you go:

On being with the Braves: “It feels good to be in an organization this year that’s going to be in a playoff hunt and not have to talk about ‘We hope years down the road …’ and things like that. It’s good to have that feeling in Spring Training.

“Things are a lot more positive and relaxed. People aren’t so … uptight. Losing for so long, there’s so much negative things being said about the Pirates. It’s tough to read them. You get defensive. The thing is, it’s true, and it’s tough to deal with that negativity every day. It was kind of nice to get here to an organization that’s won for a long time and not have that [negativity].”

On the Pirates’ rebuilding process, which included trading him away: “I guess if you’re going to do it, you might as well do it the whole way. You might as well get rid of everybody, if you’re going to start over. That’s what it boils down to, starting over. It was tough, but I was kind of lucky that I was the first one to get sent out and I didn’t have to deal with it the whole summer.

“You understand what they’re doing, trying to get as much talent into the system as possible. Trading people away was the way they thought was quickest. It’s tough because you can never underestimate how much chemistry and being with people for an extended period of time really matters. It does matter. Even though baseball is kind of an individual sport inside of a team sport, that kind of stuff still matters — seeing familiar faces every day who you’ve seen for the last year or couple of years. It’s tough, knowing guys are going to be shipped out. I guess they said they’re done with that now, but it’s nice to have that familiarity and that’s something they just don’t have right now.”

Jokingly on whether all the recently traded Pirates should start a newsletter: “No. You don’t want to pay that much for postage. A lot of letters would have to be sent out.”

On if it felt weird to face the Pirates today: “No, because I don’t know half the people. It’s like playing any other team. I know the coaching staff and a couple of the players, but there’s hardly any leftovers.”

On whether the Pirates’ rebuilding process is working: “There are some good players, Pedro Alvarez and guys like that, pitchers and stuff who they picked up in the trades last year. There’s certainly a lot more talent in the system. It’s just … (pauses) … not every prospect hits. So, I guess Pittsburgh fans don’t want to hear it, but time will tell.”

On the decision to get contacts this offseason: “I never really went to the eye doctor my whole life. [The Pirates] do [an eye exam] in Spring Training, but a blind man could pass that test they do. I’d never really done an eye exam. I always got a basic eye exam [eye chart] in Spring Training. That’s all it was. It was interesting to find out [I needed contacts] when I got home.

“It was me who noticed the problem with a couple months to go in the season. It would have been kind of tough to get used to contacts on the fly, so I wanted and got them a couple days after the season was over.It’s kind of like going from watching standard definition television to watching HD.”

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

June 8: Pirates (26-30) @ Braves (27-28)

Welcome to the South, where the temperature is in the mid-90s, the chicken is fried and the tea is always sweet. So maybe I’m a little biased being that I grew up in Georgia, but I second Brandon Moss, who came up to me in the clubhouse earlier today, smiled, and said: “Isn’t it good to be home?” Moss grew up about 45 minutes out of the city and is spending the week with his parents and his 4-wheeler.

***

After the daily media session with manager John Russell, I made my way over to the home clubhouse, where I found Nate McLouth wearing blue and red. Very weird. The shock of the trade seems to have worn off and from all accounts he is transitioning very well.

“It lasted a couple days until I got out there and got a couple of at-bats and got a couple of innings under my belt,” McLouth said. “It was still weird to be called an Atlanta Brave. But now I’m here, these are my teammates now and I couldn’t be happier.”

The Pirates have changed their signs for the series, since McLouth could obviously fill-in his new teammates if everything stayed the same. And both sides have said that it will be weird when McLouth, who is hitting leadoff for the second straight day, comes to the plate to face his former teammates with the trade still so fresh.

“It’s like when you have intersquad games in Spring Training, you don’t like hitting off your own pitchers,” Russell said. “I know we’ll be anxious to say hello and wish him well. We just hope he really struggles for four days and gets hot after we leave. I know everybody will be happy to see him.”

The city still needs to work on getting his name spelled right, however. Since arriving in town, I’ve seen it wrong on TV, in game stories and, most recently, on the whiteboard just outside the press box.

***

As for your injury updates:

  • Jack Wilson is back in the lineup after missing Sunday’s game with a sore right shoulder.
  • Reliever Donnie Veal made his first rehab appearance with Triple-A Indianapolis earlier on Monday. Veal pitched two scoreless innings and struck out two. Veal will pitch every two or three days and will continue to work multiple innings, according to Russell. There is no set date yet for his return. Veal threw 23 pitches, 15 for strikes.
  • Reliever Tyler Yates (right elbow inflammation) is scheduled to throw a simulated game on Tuesday. After that, he is expected to also join the Indy club for a rehab assignment.
  • Righty Bryan Morris made his return from a two-month right shoulder injury on Sunday. Morris, pitching for Single-A Lynchburg, allowed four runs on six hits in 4 1/3 innings. 

***

Pirates lineup:

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

Braves lineup:

  1. Nate McLouth (CF)
  2. Yunel Escobar (SS)
  3. Chipper Jones (3B)
  4. Brian McCann (C)
  5. Garrett Anderson (LF)
  6. Jeff Francouer (RF)
  7. Martin Prado (1B)
  8. Kelly Johnson (2B)
  9. Kenshin Kawakami (RHP)  

 

Morton makes Indy debut

One day after being one of three prospects acquired for center fielder Nate McLouth, RHP Charlie Morton made his organizational debut in Indianapolis. His first impression couldn’t have been much better…

Morton pitched seven shutout innings, allowing four hits, one walk and striking out seven. Morton has now won six straight and has allowed just one run in his last 23 innings. Reports out of Victory Field on Thursday had Morton’s fastball reading 96-97 mph on the radar gun.

 

June 4: Mets (28-23) @ Pirates (24-28)

I apologize for not blogging earlier, but I’ve been busy typing away at a whole bunch of “Nate McLouth trade, Day Two stories” up until this point. You’ll find a player reaction piece on the site shortly, though plain and simple, players did not seem pleased by Wednesday’s development.

Part of that is due to the sadness of losing one of the standup guys in the clubhouse, a guy who was well liked by everyone. But much of it was also due to the shock that we all felt on Wednesday. Trust me, when my phone rang at about 6:30 last night to tell me this was going down, I had to ask twice to make sure I heard McLouth’s name.

There are questions in the clubhouse about whether this means management is giving up on the 2009 season. And there is frustration among players who are paid to win now, many of whom may not be around when all these prospects that the Pirates are gathering establish themselves as big leaguers.

***

I also was surprised to see Nate in the clubhouse this morning. To say that he was still in shock doesn’t hit how deep the emotions were for him. While addressing the media for about five minutes, McLouth had to stop and compose himself multiple times. Tears were in his eyes. He was considerably choked up.

He’s a consummate professional and will likely adapt to the his new teammates quickly. But you could tell it stung to leave the only organization he ever knew. He truly wanted to be one of the people to turn things around in Pittsburgh. And while some may think that players would be glad to leave this team because it hasn’t won in so long, that was surely not McLouth’s first reaction to learning the news.

I hope to catch up with him again on Monday, since we’ll be in Atlanta, to see how he’s holding up after a few days have past. Right now, though, he’s having a tough time.

***

As for Andrew McCutchen, he was all smiles arriving from Indianapolis, though the poor kid had a 5:55 am flight out of Indy and through Cleveland this morning. He’s playing in centerfield and batting leadoff on Thursday, and expect him to be a fixture at both places for the rest of the season.

And, maybe I should personally thank management for finally calling McCutchen up — it will lessen the amount of emails I get on a daily basis from you all asking when the day will be here.

The attendance for today’s game hasn’t been announced yet, but it is a surprisingly large crowd for a Thursday afternoon with local schools still in session, I believe. I would imagine they all showed up to see one guy.

They’ve enjoyed a treat. He singled in his first Major-League at-bat and reached base twice in his first four at-bats. His first-inning single started a four-run first, and his leadoff walk in the fourth started a four-run inning as well.

McCutchen then knocked in his first RBI with a two-out single in the seventh. He notched his first big-league stolen base soon after. And then he came around to score on Nyjer Morgan’s triple.

***

In non-McLouth/McCutchen news, Jack Wilson was scratched from the lineup with a stomach flu. I didn’t see him at all this morning. He was expected to have further tests run during the day on Thursday before the team boards a flight to Houston.

 

 

McCutchen to lead off; start in centerfield

Haven’t ventured down to the clubhouse just yet (no one is likely down there yet), but this much I know… Andrew McCutchen will bat in the leadoff spot today and will start in centerfield.

Nyjer Morgan will shift down to the No. 2 hole, while Freddy Sanchez will take the departed Nate McLouth’s place in the third spot.

Littls surprise that McCutchen is assuming the spot in center, even though GM Neal Huntington would not say on Wednesday night if he’d be in center or left. Groomed as a centerfielder and obviously one of the organization’s premier prospects, that’s where McCutchen would belong.

More to come shortly… including player reaction and the scoop on McCutchen…

Dissecting the deal…

I can tell you that this was not what I expected when I came to the ballpark on what is now yesterday afternoon. In fact, I figured when we got word that the game was cancelled at about 5:30 p.m., that I had a nice relaxing evening ahead of me. Yeah. Right.

Anyways, I don’t expect the initial reaction (which based on your blog and story comments seems to be primarily negative) to simmer any time soon, and you know what, I can’t say that that would be a fair expectation.

Did the Pirates make a good trade? I don’t know. Could they have gotten more for McLouth? I don’t know. Was there an urgency to have to do this now? No, which means that the Pirates really had to like what they were being offered.

On one side, the Pirates did get three prospects that are genuinely regarded as legitimate Minor League guys with Major-League upside. The pitching depth has been significantly improved by the addition of Charlie Morton. Instead of having Virgil Vasquez sitting in Triple-A as your next-best starter, you’ve got a guy in Morton who has been one of the best pitchers in the International League all season.

And actually, I’d be surprised if he’s not here pretty soon. The way GM Neal Huntington was talking on Wednesday night, the Pirates feel he’s ready. Should Jeff Karstens – or shall we say, Ian Snell? — not pull his weight in the rotation, Morton will be in.

Gorkys Hernandez is intriguing because of his speed, and one baseball front office person (not with the Pirates) told me on Wednesday that he sees Hernandez as having All-Star potential in the Majors. And it would be a heck of an outfield with Hernandez, Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata (all centerfielders now) out there together in a few years. 

Jeff Locke is furthest away from the big leagues, which, in a way, makes him the most risky of the three prospects. There’s time to fade. Or there’s time to bloom. It’ll be a few years before we know which way that goes.

On the other side, though, you still have to question why the Pirates haven’t been able to get a marquee-type player in the three mega-trades that Huntington has pulled (Jason Bay to the Red Sox and Xavier Nady/Damaso Marte to the Yankees being the other two). The Pirates believe they have three potential above-average big-league players with this latest deal. That’s certainly a plus. But I can understand why there is some skepticism as to how good a deal this is when there is no defined superstar-talent coming in return.

It’s clear that the Braves were not willing to offer top pitching prospect Tommy Hanson or outfielder Jason Heyward, but it’s a bit surprising that Huntington pulled the trigger on this deal without seeing if maybe, just maybe, McLouth could garner a little bit more. 

Then again, maybe Huntington wanted to sell high, not risking that McLouth’s production decreased and with it, McLouth’s value. Not to mention, top prospects aren’t exactly being offered these days. The Braves were desperate for an outfielder — no question — and in the eyes of the Pirates’ decision makers, that desperation was enough to get a good package.

Also, know that the Pirates were plenty familiar with these Atlanta prospects. They had been heavily scouted by the organization last summer as the Braves were trying to make a run at Jason Bay. In fact, the Pirates were ready to accept a package that included both Morton and Locke for Bay before going with the deal that brought them more Major League-ready talent.

Know that the Pirates were not shopping McLouth. And Huntington wanted to make it perfectly clear that when Pittsburgh signed McLouth to a multi-year deal back in February, it was not with the intention of then dealing him away immediately.

Now let’s just hope everyone can stay tuned long enough to see how this one plays out. And in the meantime, you all can continue to debate…

Andrew McCutchen on his way to Pittsburgh

3530552614_83a89c5b10.jpgWell, the good news for you Pirates fans is that you no longer have to wonder when Andrew McCutchen is finally going to make his Major-League debut. It’s going to be at 12:35 p.m. on Thursday, folks.

GM Neal Huntington wasn’t yet ready to confirm whether or not McCutchen will be playing center or left (Nyjer Morgan’s outstanding defense has to have him in consideration for that centerfield spot), but we’ll find out tomorrow. My guess is that McCutchen will land in center. He is the guy and has been groomed as a centerfielder. I really can’t see him being anywhere else. And it’s not like Morgan doesn’t have plenty of ground to cover in the spacious PNC Park left field.

From those I’ve talked to in Indy who have seen McCutchen play this season, it sure sounds like he’s ready. Huntington said there is still work to be done on McCutchen’s bunting and in the stolen base area, but his defense in Triple-A has been stellar and he’s improved his discipline at the plate.

Is he going to replace McLouth’s production right away? Nope, so don’t expect him to. He’s not going to put up the same power numbers, but eventually, McCutchen will be an impact bat. I’m also interested to see where he ends up in the Pirates’ order. Batting second behind Morgan would seem to make sense. Manager John Russell could then drop the hot-hitting Freddy Sanchez to the third hole. That’d be quite the speedy duo with Morgan and McCutchen up top.

McCutchen was hitting .303 with 10 doubles, eight triples, four homers, 20 RBIs, 10 stolen bases and 41 runs scored. So Pittsburgh…. the kid you have all been waiting for is here. And don’t worry, I join you in your enthusiasm to see him take the field on Thursday.

McCutchen will be added to the Pirates’ 40-man roster on Thursday. To make room, Pittsburgh will move Craig Hansen from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL

Pirates trade Nate McLouth to Braves for three prospects

The Pirates have traded centerfielder Nate McLouth to the Braves in exchange for three players outfielder Gorkys Hernandez, left-hander Jeff Locke and right-handed starter Charlie Morton - according to two sources with knowledge of the deal.

The trade is expected to be announced later Wednesday evening after the Pirates are able to get in touch with McLouth, who had left PNC Park earlier in the evening after the Pirates’ game was postponed due to rain.

The trade sends two of Atlanta’s top seven prospects, as ranked by Baseball America, to the Pirates. Hernandez, a centerfielder with the Braves’ Double-A affiliate, was ranked No. 4 heading into the season.  Hernandez has been in Double-A this season and has hit .316 through the team’s first 52 games.

Locke, Atlanta’s seventh-best prospect, was Atlanta’s second-round Draft pick in 2006 and has pitched for the Braves’ high Single-A affiliate this season. He is 1-4 with a 5.52 ERA in 10 starts.

Morton went 4-8 with a 6.15 ERA in 15 starts (16 appearances) for the Braves last season.

McLouth, a first-time All-Star in 2008, was in his second season as the Pirates’ everyday centerfielder. He had signed a multi-year contract with the Pirates this offseason.

June 1: Mets (28-21) @ Pirates (22-28)

Happy first day of June — at least the weather is beginning to finally correspond with the month. Gorgeous day at the ballpark…

As noted in the blog earlier, the Pirates promoted RHP Steven Jackson from Triple-A Indianapolis to take Donnie Veal’s spot on the roster. Veal went on the DL (retroactive Saturday) with a strained right groin. Jackson is here and out on the field warming up with the rest of the pitchers.

Manager John Russell sounded plenty happy to have the sinkerball pitcher now available in the ‘pen. As Russell noted, the makeup of the bullpen really didn’t leave him with a prototypical groundball pitcher (Tyler Yates was closest to that mold but he is currently on the DL). Russell will use Jackson in middle relief, with an eye for a situation in which he can come in and get a groundball.

Cleaning out the notebook:

  • Craig Hansen (neck/back ailment) had another round of tests today, which came back negative. He will head to Bradenton later this week to continue his rehab program. Tests last week identified the issue as inflammation of the Trapezius muscle. He is still not expected to throw for up to four weeks.
  • Forgot to mention yesterday that the Pirates brass will be congregating in Bradenton for the draft rather than in Pittsburgh as usual. GM Neal Huntington explained how the setup of the team’s Bradenton facility allows for a better work space.
  • Eric Hinske (6-for-22 against Mets starter Livan Hernandez) is in the starting lineup today. Sure can’t argue getting him four at-bats or so considering his production lately. He has five hits in his last nine at-bats and went 3-for-3 with a walk in his start on Saturday.
  • Nate McLouth’s leadoff homer on Sunday was the fourth of his career and tied him with Roberto Clemente, Lee Handley and Gary Redus for seventh place on the Pirates’ all-time list. The leader? Barry Bonds with 20.
  • Catcher Robinzon Diaz worked on the field with the coaching staff earlier this afternoon receiving pitches and then throwing to third.
  • The Mets may have swept the Pirates earlier this seaosn (May 8-10), but their lineup isn’t nearly as daunting as they come to PNC Park for this four-game set. Cleanup hitter Carlos Delgado is out until July with a hip injury. New York is also without speedy shortstop Jose Reyes, who is on the DL with right calf tendinitis. Delgado went 6-for-13 with three runs scored and five RBIs against the Pirates back in May. In that series, Reyes went 7-for-13 with four runs scored, three stolen bases and four RBIs.

Pirates lineup:

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

Mets lineup:

  1. Luis Castillo (2B)
  2. Ramon Martinez (LF)
  3. Carlos Beltran (CF) Daniel Murphy (3B)
  4. Gary Sheffield (RF)
  5. David Wright (3B)
  6. Daniel Murphy (1B) Jeremy Reed (CF)
  7. Wilson Valdez (SS)
  8. Brian Schneider (C)
  9. Livan Hernandez (RHP)

** Beltran was a late scracth. Still ill.

May 30: Astros (19-27) @ Pirates (21-27)

It’s the first of three SkyBlast nights here at PNC Park. In the past, SkyBlast has been three consecutive nights. That has since been changed, and the next two dates come in August and September. Country music’s Zac Brown Band (you might know them for their hit: Chicken Fried) is performing postgame and will be complemented by the usual fireworks show.

***

Speaking of fireworks, manager John Russell is trying to spark something — anything — with his offense by switching around much of his lineup order and stacking it with right-handed bats. It’s safe to say that the ineptitude shown by the offense on Friday certainly encouraged some sort of change.

Getting a night off on Saturday: Nate McLouth, Adam LaRoche, Brandon Moss, Jason Jaramillo

In the lineup: Eric Hinske, Delwyn Young, Craig Monroe, Robinzon Diaz

Russell’s logic has much to do with the season that opposing starter Wandy Rodriguez is having. Rodriguez (5-3, 1.71 ERA) has limited left-handed hitters to a batting average of .125 this year.

Shuffled up in the lineup is third baseman Andy LaRoche, who will be hitting from the second hole for the first time this season. Little explanation needed here since LaRoche is the only one the has hit consistently through all the ups-and-downs of the offense. He’s reached base safely in 13 straight games, hitting .435 during that span.

“We’ve been swinging hot and cold so I figured we’d get one of our hotter hitters up there and hopefully see it if works,” Russell said.

***


0000009099_20060920160602.jpgMcLouth, a die-hard Red Wings fan, will certainly be in line to receive some jabs should the Pens steal Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals from Detroit later tonight. (McLouth has made it no secret who he is rooting for). But any ridicule he might get because of his hockey allegiance was already matched by the jabs he got earlier this afternoon.

Sporting a new hair cut — much much shorter — McLouth walked up to his clubhouse stall to find a picture of Spencer Pratt of MTV’s The Hills reality show (pictured left) taped on his locker. A bit of a resemblance between the two for sure.

Maybe the laughs can loosen McLouth back up at the plate as well. He has just one hit in his last 25 at-bats and nine strikeouts during that span.

“Nate’s going through a little bit of a struggle,” Russell said. “He’s a guy we’re going to count on tremendously. He’s going to be out there tomorrow to give him a break to regroup mentally. He’s swinging the bat much better. I think he’s getting closer. I think giving him a day off will be good for him.”

***

Spoke with Tyler Yates, who was quite relieved with the results of recent tests on his right elbow. Yates went to see Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., to get a second opinion on his elbow and Andrews confirmed that there is no structural or ligament damage. Just inflammation. Yates said he expects to start long toss again soon and then will progress based on how he feels.

He admitted to also having feared the worst — season-ending surgery — earlier this week.

***

During his pregame session with the media, Russell also gave props to reliever Donnie Veal for the job that he did in relief on Friday. It wasn’t all pretty — two innings, 50 pitches, three hits, one walk, one run — but considering Veal hadn’t pitched in 21 days, it wasn’t all that bad.

“It shows he has an idea of what he’s doing,” Russell said. “I think his mechanics have come a long way and give him a chance to compete. To not pitch in three weeks and do what he did last night, that’s pretty phenomenal.”

Russell also said that he expects Veal to be looked at seriously as a starting pitcher in the organization after the Pirates get him through this season as a Rule 5 pick in the bullpen.

***

Pirates lineup:

  1. Nyjer Morgan (CF)
  2. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  3. Freddy Sanchez (2B)
  4. Craig Monroe (LF)
  5. Eric Hinske (1B)
  6. Delwyn Young (RF)
  7. Robinzon Diaz (C)
  8. Jack Wilson (SS)
  9. Jeff Karstens (RHP)

Astros lineup:

  1. Michael Bourn (CF)
  2. Miguel Tejada (SS)
  3. Lance Berkman (1B)
  4. Carlos Lee (LF)
  5. Hunter Pence (RF)
  6. Ivan Rodriguez (C)
  7. Jeff Keppinger (3B)
  8. Edwin Maysonet (2B)
  9. Wandy Rodriguez (LHP) 

 

 

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