Results tagged ‘ Neal Huntington ’

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.”

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A few minutes with Frank Coonelly

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

President Frank Coonelly stopped by to chat with the media for a few minutes this morning, just following the team’s morning meeting. Among the topics he discussed was the contract status of general manager Neal Huntington, who is in the final year of his deal. Coonelly said that Huntington has not had that contract extended, to this point.

So will Huntington be in Pittsburgh beyond 2011?

“He’s under contract for this season, and it’s our expectation that Neal will be here for a long time,” Coonelly said. “We’ll continue to evaluate it as we go forward.”

Coonelly was asked this same question about Huntington’s status at this time last year. In that instance, Coonelly said he preferred not to comment on contractual discussions. It came out later in the summer that, over the winter, Huntington had been given a one-year extension to his contract, which was set to expire after the 2010 season.

Other topics Coonelly addressed on Saturday…

On his expectations for the season: “I expect to see us compete. We’re all about doing. As Clint said to the guys in there today, trying hard isn’t good enough. This is a doing league and it’s time for us to start doing.”

On if there is an expectation that the record improves: “I sure hope so. I think that we’re poised to make a significant improvement. We don’t want to put any limits on ourselves in terms of putting a number out there. We don’t want to be limited by a number or a thought on February 19. The expectations with the club better be championship expectations. Then we’ll see where we are at the end of the season. I’m confident we’re going to be far better than we’ve been the last several years.”

On if money is available to make in-season additions, if competitive: “There are. We’ve said all along that we’re looking forward to the day that we need to make that decision and we’re prepared to make it and prepared to add players if we need some players to get over the hump.”

On his early observations of Camp Hurdle: “Lot of energy. Getting to know the guy. Good quality work. I’m very happy that most of the guys were in early getting work in. Good communication. Clint has the ability to let the players know that he cares about them. But he also expects things to be done right. The few times that I’ve been out here and things weren’t done right, we did it over again. And the players will also know when Clint is not pleased with the work ethic.”

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Day 1: Daily Squeeze

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Hurdle, Clint.jpgThe Daily Squeeze (aka: round-up following each workout day) is back for another year, and there are plenty of items of interest to report on this Valentine’s Day. I must say that the weather made for the perfect baseball setting, as we’re getting spoiled on that front already. No complaints in that department.

Spent part of the morning catching up with Ryan Doumit, who was one of the first people I wanted to target given what transpired this offseason. You can read what Doumit had to say here. I will add that while he was plenty careful in the words he chose and the delivery he used, Doumit is not content being a backup catcher. And know that the Pirates continue to pursue trade opportunities. This story isn’t about to die anytime soon.

As for the rest of your daily squeeze:

  • As of last count, the Pirates have 54 of 62 players checked in to Pirate City already. Position players aren’t required to be here until the end of the day on Friday. However, only seven are still missing. Certainly, those who are fighting for jobs have plenty of incentive to show up early. But other early arrivals include guys with firm grasp on starting roles, including Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker, Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata.
  • Speaking of Alvarez, GM Neal Huntington noted that the third baseman is stronger than he has ever been. Huntington adamently refuted a recent report that Alvarez had gained 15 pounds over the winter, though Huntington didn’t deny that Alvarez had gained some weight. I’ll look more in depth at this weight issue later in the week. But know that for now, Alvarez is sticking at third base.
  • The winner of the closer’s job should be known soon. Huntington indicated a decision is forthcoming (maybe already made) and that we will know after the players are informed. The Pirates are not, Hurdle said, going to use a co-closer model. My guess is that the job goes to Joel Hanrahan. But that’s only a guess.
  • Jose Ascanio was the only no show among the pitchers/catchers bunch that took the field on Monday. Ascanio is tied up in Venezuela with visa issues. Huntington said that Ascanio expected to get his visa today and, assuming he does, that means the righty will arrive in Bradenton on Tuesday.
  • A total of fifteen pitchers took the mound for side sessions during the afternoon. That group included Paul Maholm, Kevin Correia, Hanrahan, Jose VerasJoe Beimel, Aaron Thompson, Justin Wilson, Ross Ohlendorf, James McDonald, Evan Meek, Scott Olsen, Kyle McPherson, Rudy Owens, Michael Crotta and Jeff Locke. “Good one huh?” Doumit said to Maholm, after Maholm’s session.
  • In addition to side sessions, there was plenty of PFPs (pitchers fielding practice) going on this afternoon. There was also bunting practice and conditioning. This is the norm for these first two weeks.
  • Hitters who had arrived early took batting practice and also did fielding drills of their own.
  • Right-hander Tyler Yates is recovered from Tommy John surgery and is going through the same spring program as all the other pitchers. While there is still some unknown about how he will throw after such a long layoff, Yates is in competition for an Opening Day bullpen spot.
  • The only two pitchers who are really limited early are Kevin Hart and Donnie Veal. Both had arm surgeries last year and neither is ready to throw. There is still a chance that Hart could be ready by Opening Day. But each day that goes by lessens the chances of that. Veal, who will do little on-field work this spring, is targeting a May or June return. Neither has had any setbacks to this point.
  • I’ve already spotted Manny Sanguillen and Bill Virdon here as extra coaches. I was told that Bill Mazeroski will be making his first appearance later this week. It’s always a blast having the old timers around.
  • MiLB.com caught up with 2010 first-round pick Jameson Taillon recently. If you want to look at the interview, you can find it here.
  • Though the players didn’t take the field until about 12:20 p.m. on Monday, workouts will begin earlier in the coming days. Pitchers and catchers had their physicals this morning and there was a short team meeting at noon during which Huntington and Hurdle addressed the group.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Pirates sign 1B Overbay

The Pirates have signed free agent first baseman Lyle Overbay to a one-year contract, the team announced on Tuesday. Financial terms of the contract were not immediately known.

Overbay, 33, comes to Pittsburgh after spending the last five seasons with Toronto. Overbay, who made $24 million over the past four years, hit .243 with 37 doubles, 20 homers and 67 RBIs in 154 games last season. He is a career .274 hitter since breaking into the Majors with Arizona in 2001.

Overbay’s .996 fielding percentage last year ranked second best in the American League. He led all AL first baseman in double plays (150) and assists (101).

“Lyle Overbay is a solid Major League player, and we expect him to have a positive impact on our club offensively, defensively and in the clubhouse,” general manager Neal Huntington said in a statement.

The left-handed hitting Overbay has averaged 17 home runs a season over the last seven years. He was an everyday player during that span and appeared in at least 157 games four times. His best season came in 2006, when Overbay hit .312 with 46 doubles, 22 homers and 92 RBIs.

The acquisition of Overbay gives the Pirates another option at first base, but it doesn’t necessarily bring clarity to the Pirates’ plans for Garrett Jones and Ryan Doumit. The left-handed hitting Jones was projected to be the team’s starting first baseman, with the possibility that the Pirates would platoon him with a right-handed hitting first baseman.

Now it appears as if the Pirates are going to give the majority of the first base at-bats to Overbay.

There’s always the possibility that Jones could move into a platoon role with Matt Diaz in right field if Doumit is dealt. The Pirates are known to be gauging trade interest in Doumit, and this acquisition could be a sign that his days in Pittsburgh are nearing an end.

UPDATE: Spoke to Huntington, who said Jones will indeed platoon with Diaz in right field. Overbay will play every day at first base. Doumit will back up Snyder and get occasional outfield at-bats.

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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 

Huntington on Day 3 of Winter Meetings

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Once again, GM Neal Huntington has wrapped up his daily session with the Pittsburgh media contingent. Here is what he had to say…

  • On whether the pending acquisitions are opening up other possible moves: “I think we’re looking through creative alternatives. I think people are intrigued with what we’re doing and maybe it’s opening some more doors. People are inquiring, based on what we’ve been able to do, to try and see if there might be some trade fits with some of the other alternatives. I guess one thing could be leading to another.”
  • On how Ryan Doumit would be affected by the acquisition of an outfielder: “Ryan’s at-bats in the outfield, it was going to be a platoon if we had tendered Lastings Milledge. If we acquire a right-handed hitting outfielder that we feel is an upgrade for the organization, it remains similar. The outfielder may have an opportunity to get some more at-bats if he performs well. We are thinking of Ryan as a left-handed hitting option that also gets enough at-bats behind home plate.”
  • On whether this means Garrett Jones is viewed as everyday first baseman: “Yes and no. Garrett is strongest against right-handed pitching. I think if we can protect him some then it makes a lot of sense for us as an organization. Do we have that piece right now? Steve Pearce could be that piece. It depends upon the rest of the bench and how it comes together.”
  • On whether he expects any deals to be finalized before leaving Orlando on Thursday: “No. We’ve still got some things to put in motion. We still have some last minute details to put together before we finalize any of the rumors that are circulating.”
  • On thoughts about Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft: “We’re kicking around some names. Teams have called to see if we would trade – either trade the pick completely or trade down. It’s a lot of fun talking about trading down. There are guys out there that we are interested in. It’s not something that we’re over the top excited about this year. But there are guys that we feel like can help us and have a legitimate chance to make the team.”
  • On whether it makes financial sense to pay Doumit $5.1 million to be platoon player: “As you sit and put it together from scratch, probably not. But as you try to tackle what your resources are and what your options are, you try to make the best of it.”
  • Huntington also said the club is considering both position players and pitchers with its Rule 5 pick. It’s doubtful the Pirates would make two picks.

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Huntington on Day 2 of Winter Meetings

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Some thoughts coming out of GM Neal Huntington’s afternoon session with the members of the Pittsburgh media:

  • On whether the Pirates continue to pursue additional starters: “We’ll always continue to try and find a way to upgrade. Maybe it takes one of our established pitchers and making them available in a trade and we can acquire some prospects or acquire some other pieces for our Major League club. Maybe we can add something to our club via Major League free agency. Maybe we can add via trade.”
  • On what the team is looking for as it targets starters: “At this point, we’d like to find some stability in the rotation. We need a guy who we feel comfortable with, who is going to take the ball every fifth day. You never know with pitchers. But we’ve looked at track records. And maybe there is a guy out there that’s got some upside that is coming back from injury in the last couple of years that may be a fit or maybe we have two stabilizers. We need to eat some innings. We need to lighten the load on our bullpen. We need to get deeper into the games as a rotation. We need to give ourselves some options.”
  • On how he is looking to build the bullpen: “A little bit of everything. We’re exploring the free agent market. We’re exploring the trade market. We’re looking at the 4-A free agent market. We’ve got a lot of internal options as well. If we add more starters than we need, we’ve got some additional bullpen options. Maybe then that pushes a guy who has had some success as a starter, maybe it pushes him back in the bullpen again and we deepen our bullpen. Maybe it pushes some of our internal options to come into camp in a little bit better shape. Too many options is never a bad thing, and that’s where we’re trying to go. We’re trying to add depth. We’re trying to give ourselves choices to make. We love power with strikeouts, but short of that, sometimes a variety of looks and a variety of stuff can help give a manager options.”
  • On whether he expects to come out of Winter Meetings with upgrade at short: “Maybe not out of the Winter Meetings. We have laid some groundwork on some things that we can improve upon defensively.”
  • On Ronny Cedeno and his future: “Ronny is still the guy, but at some point you have to stop talking about potential and you have to talk about performance. We’re getting to that point with Ronny. The consistency was there for a good portion of the year. He struggled at the end, no question.”
  • On whether there is still interest in re-signing Chan Ho Park: “We’re leaving the door open. There hasn’t been a ton of dialogue. Chan Ho, I think, is exploring his options. We’re exploring potential fits. With the quality of person that he is and what he did with us, absolutely have to keep an open mind to it. But I’d say things are not imminent at all.”
  • On rehab status of Jose Ascanio, Jeff Clement, Steve Pearce and Kevin Hart: “Everybody is on schedule. Nobody has had any significant setback. Everyone is on schedule for where we thought they would be. As we sit here today, yes, [all will be ready for Spring Training].”
  • On internal bullpen options: “I think a lot of people are beating up our bullpen because of the unknown. There is some power there. There is also some risk. It makes us feel like we don’t have to go seek an upgrade. But if there is one there that makes sense for us, we’ll certainly look.”
  • On whether Sean Gallagher is projected to be a potential starter next season: “In a strange way, being able to outright Sean may actually help his career. We’d love to see him start. But he was caught in that no-man’s land of being out of options and not wanting to lose him so you keep him on the Major League club. In Sean’s case, this may actually help. We’d love to get him stretched back out. We love the arm. He started in winter ball. He wants to start. He’s going to be given every chance in the world to make our club. There is open mindset to him being  a starter.”
  • On Kevin Hart’s best fit being in bullpen: “Given Kevin coming off the injury, it looks that way. It would be awfully hard to stretch him back out and expect him to eat 200 innings. We want to see where he is physically. We want to see where he is as his rehab continues to progress. Sitting here today, it’s a lot harder to envision him as a 200-inning starter next year. Maybe somewhere back down the road, but his quickest path back may be as a reliever. He’s also out of options, and that’s going to be the other challenge.”
  • On discussions to re-sign Donnie Veal and Brian Burres: “Continuing good  dialogue and continuing to remain optimistic on both fronts. Nothing tangible at this point.”

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Report: Correia to sign with Pirates

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting that the Pirates have come to an agreement on a two-year, $8 million deal with free agent starter Kevin Correia.

When asked if the report was accurate, GM Neal Huntington gave this response: “There is nothing official to report at the present time. We are engaged in conversation and are optimistic, but nothing has been finalized.”

It could be that only a physical stands in the way of the deal being done.

Trying to get independent confirmation of Crasnick’s report now.

Correia went 10-10 with a 5.40 ERA in 28 games (26 starts) for the Padres last season, one year after posting a 3.91 ERA and logging a career-best 198 innings. That 2009 season was the only one of Correia’s eight seasons in which he has pitched more than 145 innings.

He began his career pitching primarily as a reliever for the Giants, who drafted Correia in the fourth round of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft. Correia spent six years with San Francisco. The right-hander earned $3.6 million in 2010.

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Huntington on Day 1 of Winter Meetings

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Some items from general manager Neal Huntington, who met with four members of the Pittsburgh media on Monday afternoon:

  • On Day 1 progress: “Much like the first day of the Winter Meetings always. Just a lot of conversations. Some lead to dead ends. Some lead to fruition. A lot of dialogue.”
  • On whether the Pirates would consider giving up prospects in a trade: “I think we’re open to the right deal. In a perfect world, we’d love to hold every prospect that we have, but we know to get good players that are the right fit, it’s going to take some players in return.”
  • On if there has been interest in Joel Hanrahan and Evan Meek: “We like both guys a lot. We think both are capable of closing at the Major League level, and we’re looking for value in return.”
  • On Ryan Doumit’s role in 2011: “As we sit here right now, Ryan will be our right fielder with some time behind homeplate to supplement Chris Snyder. Sitting here right now, Ryan is going to play a lot. It’s up to him to play well and to continue to play, but sitting here, that’s the plan.”
  • On whether Doumit could be a part of a platoon situation in right field: “If there is a right-handed complement to be had… we have Steve Pearce internally that we feel comfortable with. But we continue to explore the trade market as well as the free agent market to see what else is out there. Sometimes clubs in our market have to be creative to maximize the roster and maximize the production of the roster. ‘Platoon’ seems to be a negative word. But the reality is that if it helps us put quality production on the field, it’s something that we’ve got be open to.”
  • On whether there seem to be more options for right field or first base in this market: “There’s options at both. There are some established Major League veterans out there. There are some players that are available in a trade. We’ve got two guys that we feel comfortable with, so it would have to be a situation of trying to find an upgrade if that is possible out there.”
  • On whether a closer will be named before Spring Training: “The tough part is that it’s not going to be a Spring Training competition. So if we do decide on one – and there have been multiple conversations that [new manager] Clint [Hurdle] and I have had and we’ve got to continue to have – we have to decide before Spring Training. In early conversations, we’re open to moving both guys depending on situations and how they match up. But it is an ongoing dialogue internally as to whether we’ll settle on one or go with both.”
  • On reports that teams have asked about Andrew McCutchen: “I wouldn’t always believe what you read.”
  • On whether the Rule 5 Draft has a good pool of players: “No.”
  • On whether there are players who were non-tendered that are of interest to the Pirates: “Yeah. We’ve made contact on a good number of players and continue to be open to find different ways to help our club continue to move forward.”

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Pirates eye Nieve as a starter; Marte as corner infielder

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Just spoke with general manager Neal Huntington about today’s three Minor League signs and there were two things he said that I thought would be of particular interest to you:

  • Though Fernando Nieve has been used primarily as a reliever during his time in the Majors, he will come into Spring Training and be stretched out as a starter. The Pirates plan to look at Nieve as a starting pitcher first, with the bullpen as a fallback option.
  • Andy Marte, once a top prospect in multiple organizations, will be competing for an Opening Day roster spot as a corner utility infielder. That means the Pirates plan to get him continued work at both first and third this spring.

Here is the full story.

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