Results tagged ‘ Nick Leyva ’
So let us revisit Sunday for a few minutes before we look ahead to tonight’s makeup game since manager Clint Hurdle took some time to do so this afternoon.
I just can’t shake Hurdle’s response on Sunday afternoon when he was asked if it was smart to have Andrew McCutchen try to score on a sacrifice fly with two out in the ninth. For those of you who were off enjoying your Easter and not in front of the television… the context was this: McCutchen was on third with one out and the Pirates trailing, 6-3. Jose Tabata lifted a fly ball to middle right field. Jayson Werth camped under it for out No. 2. McCutchen tagged, took off for home and was tagged out on Werth’s terrific throw. Game over. With Lyle Overbay on-deck and Neil Walker waiting behind him.
The key to this situation is the club was down by three runs. With two outs. In the ninth.
I thought it was plenty appropriate to ask why McCutchen would run in that situation, so the first question I directed at Hurdle was — “Given that you were down by three runs, would you have preferred that McCutchen stay on third in that situation?”
Hurdle’s response: “No.”
Hurdle then began his defense: “The only reason we’re asked that question is because he’s out. I bet everybody in the ballpark, including you, thought we were going to send him.”
Actually, I didn’t think McCutchen would be sent. But I thought it might be rude to mention that in a press conference.
More from Hurdle: “You never want to make the last out at home, but sometimes those things are going to happen. It’s not a perfect world. It’s not a perfect game. Our mentality is to play aggressive. That’s going to win us more games. We get one there, who knows where it takes us. We’re going to send that guy.”
I’m still entirely unconvinced. McCutchen’s run in that situation means so little. He should not take off for home unless he is 100 percent — no, 150 percent — positive he is going to be safe. I agree that 9 times out of 10 that fly ball scores McCutchen. I’d advocate for him to run in that situation in innings one through eight. I’d advocate for him to run in the ninth if the team is down by one. But not when the club was going to need at least two more hitters to come to the plate for the chance to tie the game.
Hurdle’s final comment on the play: “Look what kind of throw it took. There are probably two guys in the league that can make that throw. He’s one of them.”
Hurdle is absolutely correct. But since it’s obviously no secret that Werth has a heck of an arm, isn’t that even more reason not to try and run on him?
I never got the impression Hurdle was giving these answers in an effort not to call out third base coach Nick Leyva or McCutchen for the decision to run. He firmly agrees with it. And he backed that up with what he said on Monday.
“It’s about doing the right thing at the right time for the right reason. And I do believe all of those were in place. We got the wrong outcome. … I expected him to go. I would have been more shocked if he wouldn’t have gone. I don’t ever want to wonder if he would have been safe.
“We’re not a conventional team. Things happen within this game that are instinctive and impulsive. Yes, in hindsight, when it’s 30 seconds later, that shouldn’t have happened. But in the heat of the moment with adrenaline fueling and excitement and an aggressive mentality…
“I think now we have a better yard mark on when we go and when we don’t go as far as distance into right field. Was it a gamble? Absolutely. Did it not work out? Absolutely. Am I happy with the aggressive mentality? Absolutely.”
For the record, Leyva told me on Monday that he told McCutchen to run: “It’s very easy to say that wasn’t the right situation, but I thought he could make it. It’s a judgement call. They don’t give you a do-over. He’s probably the fastest guy on the team. I thought the ball carried far enough. I know Werth’s got as good as arm as anybody. I know [Rick] Ankiel has as good an arm as anybody. If I didn’t think he could make it, I wouldn’t have sent him.”
And with that, we turn the page to Monday’s news and notes…
- Lyle Overbay and Pedro Alvarez are out of the lineup, with Steve Pearce and Brandon Wood taking their places. Hurdle said he wanted to get Overbay a day off simply because the first baseman has started every game of the season so far. Hurdle also wanted Wood to get some playing time and figured sitting Alvarez against a lefty could be a good idea.
- Sitting Overbay and Alvarez also loads the lineup with right-handed hitters. Nationals pitcher John Lannan is allowing righties to hit .360 against him this season. Left-handed hitters are batting .167. Lannan’s career splits aren’t so drastic, however (.273 batting average for right-handed hitters; .272 mark for left-handed ones).
- A number of Pirates players have had success against Lannan, led by Matt Diaz (11-for-22)
- Evan Meek is still sick. It’s a viral thing, he says, but the guy has been under the weather for weeks now. Not that it’s going to stop him from pitching.
PIRATES: A. McCutchen (CF), J. Tabata (LF), M. Diaz (RF), N. Walker (2B), S. Pearce (1B), B. Wood (3B), C. Snyder (C), R. Cedeno (SS), P. Maholm (LHP)
NATIONALS: D. Espinosa (2B), I. Desmond (SS), J. Werth (RF), A. LaRoche (1B), M. Morse (LF), W. Ramos (C), J. Hairston (CF), B. Bixler (3B), J. Lannan (LHP)
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Officially, the first full-squad workout isn’t scheduled until Saturday. As it turned out, though, all 62 players were here this morning and all that were healthy took the fields for workouts on Friday. The one noticeable absentee on the field was lefty Scott Olsen, who has a mild left hamstring strain. He’ll be re-evaluated daily, the Pirates said, and we expect to have an update on his status in a week.
By all indications, Olsen won’t be able to do anything until then. He had already told me that he was building his arm up a little slower-than-usual this spring given his past shoulder issues. With this setback, you now have to wonder if Olsen is going to be able to log enough innings to be ready as a starter by Opening Day.
Though Brad Lincoln, Daniel McCutchen, Jeff Karstens and Brian Burres would contend otherwise, the Pirates have been hinting for a while now that the fifth spot in the rotation would likely come down to Olsen and Charlie Morton. Now, Morton might have the leg up. This would be the time, too, where one of those other guys sneaks up and becomes a serious part of the discussion.
We should have a better grasp on Olsen’s timetable by the end of next week.
As for the rest of your daily notes:
- Many of the pitchers were called in for early work this morning, and they broke up into groups to focus on a number of specific things — delivery, side steps, pick off moves and bunt plays. This all happened before the 10 am workout.
- Ronny Cedeno and Brian Friday arrived at Pirate City and participated in workouts for the first time. They were the only two position players that hadn’t yet reported.
- Cedeno talked at length with reporters about his desire to prove he is an everyday shortstop at the Major League level. Clint Hurdle and Nick Leyva (infield instructor) also spoke about what they hope to see from Cedeno this spring. You can find all this in today’s feature on the main site.
- Speaking of Cedeno, he’ll be wearing No. 5 this year. He gave Hurdle No. 13 and goes back to a number that he wore with the Cubs.
- Leyva has done his homework on Cedeno and the rest of the infield group he has inherited. He has spoken extensively with Carlos Garcia, who was the Pirates’ infield instructor last year. He has also spoken to Perry Hill, who was with the Pirates in 2009. Leyva said he will be incorporating many of the same defensive drills that Hill introduced here during his one-year stay.
- Jose Ascanio (28 pitches) appeared in camp, as those visa issues have now been fixed. He began his work to catch up to the rest of the pitchers by throwing his first side session.
- Lefty Donnie Veal (34 pitches) also took the mound to throw on Friday. Remember, he’s on a more limited throwing program this spring as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.
- The rest of the pitchers had the day off from throwing and worked mostly on defensive drills. The first group of pitchers will throw live batting practice to the hitters on Saturday, with the second group then scheduled to go on Sunday.
- Steve Pearce spent the day working with the outfielders. Before today, I had only seen Pearce doing defensive drills at first base. He is going to get extensive work at both spots all spring.
- Three spectators stood out on the Pirate City grounds. Jameson Taillon, Stetson Allie and Luis Heredia – your big three pitching prospects — wandered around watching the morning workouts. You can see the three in the photo above, which was taken by team photographer Dave Arrigo. All three pitchers are participating in the Pirates’ early Minor League camp.
- Position players ended workouts by working on situational bunting and hitting. A coach would give them a play (squeeze, slap bunt, drag bunt, hit-and-run, etc.) and each hitter had to execute. Not that it’s fair to make firm evaluations this early in spring, but Pedro Alvarez was definitely off with his timing during the drill. A lot of swings and misses. I didn’t see everyone hit, but of those who did, Neil Walker and Ryan Doumit looked pretty sharp.
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Manager Clint Hurdle has assembled his coaching staff. It includes:
- Jeff Banister: bench coach
- Ray Searage: pitching coach
- Gregg Ritchie: hitting coach
- Nick Leyva: third base coach
- Euclides Rojas: bullpen coach
- Luis Silverio: first base coach
- Mark Strittmatter: coach (will assist as pitchers’ hitting coach and will assist the catchers and the hitting program)
- Heberto Andrade: bullpen catcher
Here is the full story, with background on each coach.
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