Results tagged ‘ Ray Searage ’

Game 14: Pirates (6-7) @ Reds (8-5)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The placard above Andrew McCutchen’s locker read: McKKKKutchen this morning. Great humor, though two of those Ks should have been backward for accuracy sake. McCutchen took the gag in good spirits.

For those curious, McCutchen would have needed to strike out one more time to tie a club record and Major League record for a nine-inning game. The two Pirates who have struck out five times in a game? Bert Blyleven (1979) and Pep Young (1935).

Some news and notes:

  • While McCutchen is still looking for his first stolen base of the year, Jose Tabata already has seven. We’ve talked a lot about Tabata’s hitting, but his basestealing (and 7-of-8 success rate) is notable. Tabata worked hard to refine this part of the game during Spring Training and the work is most notable in three areas. He’s readiug pitchers better, taking slightly bigger leads and keeping his body in a position to get a better jump. More on this on the main site later.
  • The Reds changed their pitching order late last night to give Edinson Volquez an extra day to recover from a stiff neck. That means Mike Leake will oppose James McDonald this afternoon.
  • It wasn’t until May 14 that the Pirates picked up their sixth road win last season. They have a chance to do so today.
  • Interesting tidbit from Elias Sports Bureau: The last Pirates pitcher to lose a shutout by allowing a solo homer with two out in the ninth inning of a complete-game performance was Bronson Arroyo (2001). This is ironic given that it was Arroyo who opposed Charlie Morton last night.
  • I get a lot of questions about how much credit is due Ray Searage for Morton’s bounceback. Certainly, there is some. But give Morton the credit he deserves, too. Here’s a guy who hit the lowest of lows last year and is now looking like an early-season favorite for comeback player of the year consideration. His confidence is as high as I have ever seen it, and he is now taking the mound believing that his stuff is good enough to get out anyone.
  • Lyle Overbay has a .411 lifetime average against the Reds and even better numbers (28-for-66) at Great American Ball Park.

Lineups:

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

REDS: D. Stubbs (CF), M. Cairo (2B), J. Votto (1B), J. Gomes (LF), J. Bruce (RF), J. Francisco (3B), R. Hernandez (C), P. Janish (SS), M. Leake (RHP)

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Game 2: Pirates (1-0) @ Cubs (0-1)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

I continue to get a number of questions about Clint Hurdle, specifically from people curious about how he differs from previous manager John Russell. I think their contrasting personalities have come across quite plainly in interviews or public appearances that Hurdle has made already. But let me also offer you this…

Hurdle is omnipresent in the clubhouse. He was at Wrigley Field to greet players (saying good morning or hello or whatever greeting he desired) as each player entered the clubhouse this morning. He sat with them to watch MLB Network highlights with his hat on backward and a bat in hands. He is constantly engaging in conversations with guys and very much a vocal presence.

He also showed little hesitancy in singling out Pedro Alvarez when asked about what went wrong on the two dropped pop-ups in the infield on Friday (more on that in today’s Beat on the main site later).

Hurdle has said he does not want to take over the clubhouse — which is the players’ quarters. But he’s not going to hide, he’s bound to keep his team accountable and he desires to have a relationship with his players.

Other news and notes…

  • Hurdle gave Neil Walker the umpires’ lineup card from Friday’s game as a memento for the second baseman’s big game. Speaking of Walker, he is now 17-for-36 in his career against Chicago with six doubles, four homers and 11 RBIs. Walker has hit safely in all 10 games he’s played against the Cubs.
  • Jason Jaramillo will start Sunday’s game, Hurdle said on Saturday. Hurdle had mentioned on Friday that he also wants to get Matt Diaz involved this series, so I’d expect to see him in Sunday’s lineup as well. Other than trying to get some of these bench guys involved early in the season, Hurdle intends to fiddle little with his lineup.
  • Has anyone forgotten that the Pirates went 17-64 on the road last year? That makes Friday’s road win that much more significant.
  • Interesting note on Paul Maholm, who makes the start on Saturday — he has made more starts (153) than any left-hander in the National League since the start of 2006. Look for Maholm to pitch inside today more than you might have seen him do so last year. It’s something the lefty focused on all spring.
  • Right-hander Ross Ohlendorf will start the season finale on Sunday and he said he believes some tweaks he has made recently with pitching coach Ray Searage are going to help him get off to a strong start. Those adjustments involve getting a better line to home plate during his delivery (in other words, not letting his body get too rotational during his motion).

Lineups:

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), P. Maholm (LHP)

CUBS: J. Baker (2B), S. Castro (SS), M. Byrd (CF), A. Ramirez (3B), G. Soto (C), C. Pena (1B), A. Soriano (LF), T. Colvin (RF), C. Zambrano (RHP)

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Day 9: Daily Squeeze

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Atkins, Garrett.jpgI’ll admit that watching fielding drills day after day can get a bit monotonous after a while. But there can be times when something catches your eye — which was the case in the relay/cutoff throw drill that third base coach Nick Leyva ran yesterday. There was something different in the instructions than I remember there being last year.

The detail is small, but, after talking with Leyva about it today, he believes it could also be significant. In a situation where a runner is on second and a ball is hit up the middle, Leyva is instructing the first baseman (Lyle Overbay, in most cases) to come to the middle of the infield and be the cutoff man. Last year, that was the third baseman’s duty.

Leyva said that his reasoning for making the change is simple — and he added that 90-95 percent of clubs already position their players this way for cutoffs. By keeping the third baseman on the bag, that forces the baserunner to be more honest. He can’t sneak down the line as far as he might if it was just the shortstop running over to cover. Those few extra feet can make a big impact.

Just something for you to keep an eye on once games begin…

  • Third baseman Pedro Alvarez, who missed Monday’s workouts with a muscle spasm in his neck, was back to work early Tuesday morning. He went out to take some swings in the batting cage and then joined his teammates for defensive drills. He appeared to be just fine, though he did not go through a full day’s workout.
  • A total of 13 pitchers threw live batting practice to hitters. Kevin Correia, James McDonald, Paul Maholm and Ross Ohlendorf all took mounds simultaneously to kick things off. Don’t think that grouping was on accident, either. Hurdle had praise for the four members of the Pirates’ rotation afterward, too.
  • One person that was missing from the pack today was right-hander Jose Ascanio. GM Neal Huntington confirmed that Ascanio felt some tightness in his right elbow on Monday and is, as a precautionary measure, taking it easy for a few days. Ascanio had thrown his first bullpen session on Sunday. The good news is that the Pirates don’t believe the discomfort is anything more serious than a day-to-day issue, and Ascanio was already ahead enough in his workload (he pitched in winter ball through December) that this won’t set him back at all. 
  • The position players’ first drill of the day was working on hit and runs, delayed steals and reading balls in the dirt. The emphasis on the hit-and-run play was for a player to keep his lead consistent so as not to give away that he’s running. The coaching staff is pushing players to try to move first to third on a single this year, in what is being defined as “disciplined aggression.” For the most part, if the ball touches grass on the way through the infield, the expectation is that a player advances to third. The coaches also talked about the importance of knowing where the outfielders are in order to get the best read on the ball.
  • “Shin guards tell the story,” Hurdle said, as he walked over while the Pirates position players were deciding whether to advance on balls in the dirt. “This is a game changer right here and anyone can do it.” You better believe Hurdle is going to expect his players to.
  • Catchers spent some time practicing blocking balls in the dirt, as their priority was on the other side of the play.
  • Pitchers and position players worked together through signs to know who covers on a stolen base attempt. Then the groups split up for some individual work. The infielders took grounders, with Neil Walker working specifically on taking a double play feed from the shortstop. Outfielders tracked fly balls. Pitchers practiced covering first base on a grounder to the right side.
  • Garrett Atkins was taking his infield work at first base after working at third on Monday. Corey Wimberly, who is getting work in the outfield and infield, spent time at both second and short. Moving these utility players around will continue to be a key component of workouts: “They don’t seem like a high priority position, but when you can stabilize your roster with a guy that is versatile, they are very valuable,” Hurdle said. “We have a handful of guys that we’re looking at in that situation.”
  • Hurdle announced after practice that he will be using seven pitchers for one inning apiece in Friday’s exhibition game against the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota. Aaron Thompson will make the start and be followed by Tyler Yates, Jeff Locke, Michael Crotta, Justin Wilson, Kyle McPherson and Rudy Owens.
  • Hurdle said he will announce the beginning of his Grapefruit League pitching assignments on Wednesday.
  • Yates is not throwing live batting practice with the rest of the group, though he has not had any sort of setback. Pitching coach Ray Searage thought Yates would instead be better served having a supervised side session on Wednesday where the focus could be on the right-hander’s mechanics. Yates was actually so far ahead in his throwing program that he had thrown batting practice before the start of Spring Training.
  • On the field as guests today were members of the Manatee adult baseball league. They fielded balls in the outfield during batting practice. Tomorrow, the Manatee High School baseball team will be at Pirate City to do that.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Pirates name coaching staff

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

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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Beasley, Banister, Long express desire to return

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Three coaches from the Pirates’ 2010 staff said on Monday that they would consider returning to the organization next season under a new manager.

Shortly after the Pirates announced that John Russell had been removed as the team’s manager, hitting coach Don Long, third base coach Tony Beasley and interim bench coach Jeff Banister told MLB.com that they would welcome the opportunity to return to the Major League coaching staff and see the organization’s rebuilding process through.

General manager Neal Huntington left that door open, too, saying that the coaches would each be evaluated individually, with the possibility that they could be brought back. But since the Pirates’ next manager will have a significant say in hiring his coaching staff, no coaching decisions will be made until after that hire.

In the meantime, Huntington has told each coach that he is welcome to pursue other opportunities.

Reached at his home in Virginia, Beasley expressed a strong desire to return for a 19th season in the Pirates’ organization. He has spent the last three serving as the team’s third base coach and baserunning instructor.

Beasley is also under contract through the 2011 season, so that could be a factor as the organization assembles its next staff.

“I would definitely love to be back, especially with where we are with the young kids,” Beasley said. “I’d definitely love to be a part of that and a part of the growth. The process that we talked about is kind of coming to an end. I see that in the near future, and hopefully I can be a part of that. I know it’s out of my hands, but until I’m told otherwise, I hope to stay.”

Beasley said that Huntington spoke with members of the coaching staff during the team’s most recent road trip and informed them that the immediate future was uncertain for everyone.

“I’m willing to be patience and see how it works out,” Beasley said.

Like Beasley, Long was hired shortly after Russell was named manager in November 2007. Though the team finished last in the National League in batting average (.242) this season, Long has been credited by numerous players for the work he’s done with them over the past three seasons.

Most recently, he oversaw the rookie success of Jose Tabata, Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez. Two years ago, he helped Jason Bay, Xavier Nady and Nate McLouth take significant strides forward in their approaches and swings.

“The competitive side of me says we started that process and we’ve been through major overhaul on the roster,” Long said. “We’ve gotten to the point that guys who you thought would have the chance to come up here did, and they showed big signs of what they’re capable of doing. I would want to see through.

“For the people on the outside looking in, the most dominant stat is the record,” he added. “But to watch a group of players – where there is a lot of youth and not a lot of experience – go from where they started to where they finished, it’s definitely a step in the right direction. People on the outside looking in can scoff at that. But for me, as a coach, the most important thing is you take care of the things you can take care of and one of those is how you prepare and how you show up.”

Long said a decision on his future will come after he spends some time with his family. He also said he realizes that returning might not even be an option in the end.

“I’m going to take some time to absorb it a little bit and then take some time to look at the options and what I want to do,” he said. “You never know, there is always the opportunity to stay. Or there is the potential that whoever they hire will want someone they are more familiar with. And I understand that.”

Banister joined the Major League staff as the club’s interim bench coach in early August, following the dismissal of Gary Varsho. He has been with the organization for the last 25 years and began his eighth season as the Pirates’ Minor League Field Coordinator earlier this year.

Though Banister may not retain his Major League coaching job, his rapport with players and coaches in the Minor League levels would seem to suggest that the Pirates would welcome having him return in some capacity. The Pirates, however, have not announced such a decision.

Asked if he would like to continue working with the organization, Banister said: “That’s an obvious yes. There’s a lot of guys I know very well who’ve come up through our system that are there. They’ve developed, they continue to develop. They’re not finished by any stretch of the imagination. I’d love to continue that if Neal, [president] Frank [Coonelly] and [owner] Bob [Nutting] allow that to happen.

“My passion is for this organization and where I think we can go and where I think we are going. It’s unfinished for me. Until somebody tells me they don’t need my services anymore, I’ll always feel that way. I grew up in this uniform and there are a lot of things I think we can and will do. I’m sure some people think we are a ways away. I see it every day, and I know we’re not that far away. There’s a really strong nucleus of talented athletes that take the field every day. There is some finishing that needs to go along with their Major League experience before they truly know what it takes to win on an every-day basis. Hopefully, I’m part of that, in whatever capacity that is.

The rest of Russell’s former staff included Luis Dorante (bullpen coach), Carlos Garcia (first base/infield coach) and Ray Searage (interim pitching coach).

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Pirates announce Minor League staffs

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The Pirates announced the 2010 coaching staffs for all six of their affiliates. There were very few changes from last season as all six managers are returning to their respective clubs. Dean Treanor has been promoted from Double-A to Triple-A, where he will serve as Indianapolis’ pitching coach. That position was most recently held by Ray Searage until Searage was hired to join the Major League staff in October.

Tom Filer has been added to take Treanor’s position in Altoona. The only other new addition is Mike Lum, who will be a coach with the Gulf Coast League Pirates.

Minor League notes: Phil Dumatrait, who became a free agent on Saturday when the Pirates decided not to tender him a contract, has signed a Minor League deal with the Tigers. Eric Hacker signed as a Minor League free agent with San Francisco.

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September 14: Pirates (55-86) @ Dodgers (85-59); Young out with lower back tightness

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

I’m back. My apologies for the blog inactivity for the last few days, but I was enjoying my last few days off this season and now will be with you every day through October 4.

Not many newsy items coming out of the already-small and now extra-cramped visitor’s clubhouse today other than that Delwyn Young is out because of some lower back tightness. He said he felt his back spasm while running to first on his pinch-hit groundout on Sunday and could barely make it to the bag.

He is not taking any sort of BP today and is questionable for the rest of the series. That has the LA native bummed out since he’s expecting about 25 family and friends in the stands this week.

As for today’s other news, notes and randomness…

  • While I was away, the Lynchburg Hillcats came from behind to win a Carolina League playoff series over Wilmington. Lynchburg won the deciding game on Sunday with Bryan Morris (part of the Jason Bay trade) allowing one run on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings and earning the win. Third baseman Josh Harrison (John Grabow/Tom Gorzelanny trade) went 2-for-3 with four RBIs in the 5-2 win.
  • The Hillcats are now taking on the Salem Red Sox in the Mills Cup Championship, with Game 1 scheduled for tonight. Those interested in following the game and each of the next ones can do so here.
  • Triple-A pitching coach Ray Searage has joined the club and will be with the Pirates for about a week. Then he gets ready to head down to Venezuela where he will coach this offseason.
  • Manager John Russell wouldn’t commit to whether Ross Ohlendorf’s start on Saturday would be his last of the season or not. Ohlendorf is about 10 innings away from what the Pirates have set as his desired maximum innings count for the season.
  • There are all sorts of LA connections on the Pirates club right now. Obviously, as mentioned above, Young grew up in LA and still resides around here. He was also with the Dodgers until LA traded him to Pittsburgh back in April. Andy LaRoche came up through the Dodgers’ system, as did reliever Joel Hanrahan. Reliever Jesse Chavez graduated from high school about 40 miles east of the city.
  • Here’s an interesting one for you from the Elias Sports Bureau: The Pirates became the first team this season to turn a double play in the last three innings of a one-run victory when they did so on Sunday by getting double plays in the seventh, eighth and ninth against Houston. Before Sunday, the last time the Pirates did this was Sept. 21, 1990, in a 1-0 win over the Cardinals. Thank goodness someone somewhere keeps track of this stuff.
  • Monday’s starter Daniel McCutchen is still looking for his first Major League win. This will be his third start. 

Pirates lineup:

  1. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  2. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  3. Garrett Jones (1B)
  4. Ryan Doumit (C)
  5. Lastings Milledge (LF)
  6. Brandon Moss (RF)
  7. Ronny Cedeno (SS)
  8. Ramon Vazquez (2B)
  9. Daniel McCutchen (RHP)

Dodgers lineup:

  1. Rafael Furcal (SS)
  2. Matt Kemp (CF)
  3. Andre Ethier (RF)
  4. Manny Ramirez (LF)
  5. James Loney (1B)
  6. Casey Blake (3B)
  7. Russell Martin (C)
  8. Orlando Hudson (2B)
  9. Jon Garland (RHP)

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