Results tagged ‘ Ryan Doumit ’
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)
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Since manager Clint Hurdle seemed a tad disappointed that no one asked the question during the media’s pregame session, let me begin by sharing his unsolicited thoughts about Jose Tabata. Hurdle was specifically impressed with Tabata’s plate discipline and willingness to take a six-pitch walk in final at-bat on Wednesday. Tabata entered the night with a 10-game hitting streak but was 0-for-2 with a walk when he came to the plate in the eighth.
By taking a walk, he lost his chance at adding another game to his personal streak.
“I’m not saying it’s normal, but you’ll find players at times that will put individual accomplishments in front of the game from time to time,” Hurdle said. “A young man going up there, knowing what he needed to do and got down early in the count… took a walk. He’ll have other 10-game hitting streaks. He’ll have longer ones than that. But it was very encouraging to see that that’s his mindset. His mindset is not that he can have an 11-game hitting streak.”
Tabata can begin a new hitting streak tonight. Obviously, he has still reached base in every game this year.
Other pregame news and notes…
- Catcher Chris Snyder is back and is in the lineup. This means that Ryan Doumit will not see nearly the playing time he had through 11 games. Hurdle didn’t specify what proportion of games Snyder will catch, but it’s clear that Snyder is the team’s primary catcher. He is likely to get a few more days off early on just to ease him back into action.
- For all the flak Doumit took last year about not being able to throw out runners, he has been much, much better so far this year. Doumit has thrown out three of six runners trying to steal against him and has just looked more comfortable in the process. The pitchers appear to be helping, too, as the stopwatches show that balls are getting from the mound to the plate quicker than they were a year ago.
- Expect lefty Joe Beimel to be joining the club in Cincinnati on Friday. He has completed his rehab assignment with Triple-A Indianapolis. A move will have to be made to put Beimel on the 40-man roster.
- Righty Jeff Karstens is available in the bullpen again tonight, but this is the last night he will be a ‘pen option. The Pirates haven’t announced him as Sunday’s starter, but you can expect Karstens to step in for the start assuming he isn’t needed in long relief tonight.
- Third baseman Pedro Alvarez gets the night off on Thursday. He arrived at the ballpark early to take some extra swings, and Hurdle said there are some specific mechanical tweaks that were focused on during the session. Hurdle didn’t get into details, but he did suggest that Alvarez’s confidence could be boosted by him being able to start back at the basics.
- Taking Alvarez’s place at third base will be Steve Pearce. This will be Pearce’s first start at third in the Majors. He was a late-inning substitution there on Saturday.
- Matt Diaz moves into the cleanup spot, which would seem warranted given his 5-for-19 start. Who would have guessed, though, that all of Diaz’s hits to this point would be off righties? He is 0-for-4 against lefties.
- Lyle Overbay, who dropped to the sixth spot in the order, is also looking for his first hit against a left-hander.
PIRATES: J. Tabata (LF), N. Walker (2B), A. McCutchen (CF), M. Diaz (RF), S. Pearce (RF), L. Overbay (1B), C. Snyder (C), R. Cedeno (SS), P. Maholm (LHP)
BREWERS: R. Weeks (2B), C. Gomez (CF), R. Braun (LF), P. Fielder (1B), C. McGehee (3B), Y. Betancourt (SS), E. Almonte (RF), J. Lucroy (C), R. Wolf (LHP)
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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)
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A few newsworthy items to wrap up today’s workout day:
- James McDonald is (barring any unforseen setbacks) going to start April 5 agains the Cardinals. The Pirates feel good letting him get on the mound after McDonald threw 69 pitches in Spring Training camp game on Thursday morning. McDonald was unable to pitch in a Minor League game against the Triple-A Yankees as planned due to rainy weather; but he did get his work in and is flying to Chicago this evening.
- While McDonald will be fine to make his scheduled start on Tuesday, he will be limited in how deep he is able to pitch. Manager Clint Hurdle guessed that the right-hander will be limited to 85-90 pitches in the outing. But the Pirates like their chances with McDonald pitching a solid five innings and then leaving it to the ‘pen rather than having to find someone to make a spot start.
- McDonald’s velocity reached 95 mph on Thursday, Hurdle said. This certainly suggests that McDonald is having no problems with his side.
- The Pirates have not yet determined whether Brad Lincoln (right forearm contusion) will begin the season in extended Spring Training or with Triple-A Indianapolis. With the Triple-A season still a week from beginning, the Pirates have some more time to determine Lincoln’s assignment.
- Catcher Chris Snyder (lower back stiffness) has not returned to game action yet. He can come off the DL as early as April 9, but the Pirates won’t reinstate Snyder until after he can prove he can catch consecutive games without any issue.
- In the meantime, Ryan Doumit and Jason Jaramillo will both get starts behind the plate. Doumit will get the assignment on Opening Day. Hurdle said that decision was made because of Doumit’s experience: “I think we’ve got enough young guys breaking in tomorrow that we’ll rely upon Ryan with some experience behind the plate.” Jaramillo will catch in a game over the weekend.
- The Pirates have signed right-hander Tim Wood to a Minor League contract. No word yet on where he’ll begin the season — though it will not be in the Majors. Wood was released by the Nationals on Thursday morning.
- Outfielder Jose Tabata has no ankle issues — he was taken out of Wednesday’s game strictly for precautionary reasons. He’s just fine.
- Also, something that was announced while I was off yesterday that I thought was worth noting: Major League Baseball is implementing a 7-day DL this season for concussion injuries only. The hope is that this will help players from trying to rush back from a concussion prematurely; and it allows teams the benefit of not having to play shorthanded while a player recovers. You can read more about the new policy here.
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GM Neal Huntington said it is “very probable” that Chris Snyder will begin the year on the disabled list. Snyder continues to deal with back soreness, and though he said he is improving, the Pirates can’t risk beginning the season with a catcher who isn’t close to 100 percent.
With Snyder headed to the DL, Jason Jaramillo and Ryan Doumit will be the team’s two catchers. This also means that outfielder John Bowker will win the final bench spot, which could have gone to a third catcher if the team had opted to keep one.
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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.”
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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.
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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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Catcher Ryan Doumit makes his return to the field on Friday and manager Clint Hurdle will get a really good look at just about everyone competing for a bench spot. Take a look at the lineup and you’ll find most of your backup candidates. Not that one game is going make or break anyone’s chances, but it will be interesting to see if a few particularly shine.
Other morning notes…
- The Pirates enter Friday’s game having lost five of six. Results aren’t that big of a deal at this point, but the club would like to pick up some victories when their starters are playing — which has been the case a lot in the past week.
- Brad Lincoln is making his fourth Grapefruit League appearance on Friday, but just his second actual start. He is lined up to go four innings, and this should be a good test as he will go against a number of the Phillies’ regulars.
- A reminder that Saturday’s 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Red Sox is going to be televised on FSN Pittsburgh.
- On another programming note, MLB Network will be in Bradenton on Monday to film for the Network’s 30 Clubs in 30 Days. The Pirates’ episode will air on Tuesday night (March 22).
- The following pitchers are scheduled to throw on Saturday: Kevin Correia, Joel Hanrahan, Evan Meek, Daniel McCutchen.
- Not sure if you’re paying attention to the calendar, but two weeks from today I’ll be blogging from the Wrigley Field press box. Let the Opening Day countdown begin.
- And to you Penn State fans out there, I sympathize with you today. Not a particularly good showing last night (or all season, actually) by my Mizzou Tigers, who must now watch the rest of the NCAA tourney on TV.
PIRATES: C. Wimberly (CF), J. Bowker (LF), S. Pearce (RF), R. Doumit (C), G. Atkins (3B), A. Marte (1B), J. Rodriguez (SS), P. Ciriaco (2B), B. Lincoln (RHP)
Pitchers: B. Lincoln, C. Resop, J. Thomas, J. Veras, M. Crotta, C. Leroux
PHILLIES: J. Rollins (SS), S. Victorino (CF), R. Ibanez (LF), R. Howard (1B), R. Gload (RF), P. Orr (3B), C. Ruiz (C), M. Martinez (2B), R. Oswalt (RHP)
Pitchers: R. Oswalt, D. Baez, J.C. Romero, J. Contreras, R. Madson
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Brian Burres deserves mention here, and serious consideration for one of the Pirates’ 25 roster spots. I understand that Spring Training results aren’t everything, but Burres has pitched quite well this spring. He shouldn’t be under the radar anymore.
Working against Burres is the fact that he would fit into a role much like the one Jeff Karstens is expected to hold — spot starter, long relief guy, etc. But since Karstens is on the roster and due to make $1.1 million this year, it’s hard to see the Pirates not bringing Karstens north.
If Charlie Morton gets the fifth spot in the Pirates’ rotation and the other four starters are healthy, there isn’t a place for Burres to start. There is at least one spot left in the bullpen, so maybe that is a place where Burres can fit.
To this point, the thinking seems to have been that Scott Olsen would land as the second lefty in the ‘pen if he didn’t crack the rotation. But Olsen hasn’t done all that well in his first two appearances, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that Burres could have an edge over Olsen. The fact that the Pirates owe Olsen very little in guaranteed salary would mean that the club wouldn’t be on the hook for that much money if Olsen doesn’t stick.
This is certainly something to keep an eye on as the last two weeks play out. Of course, Burres could also be asked to accept an assignment in Triple-A, where he would start and wait until the Pirates need a fill-in starter.
Speaking of Burres, he pitched four shutout innings in the Pirates’ intrasquad game on Thursday. He allowed two hits, walked two and struck out five.
“It went well,” Burres said. “I felt good and got the pitch count up. I worked with the fastball pretty good.”
In addition to those results, Burres has pitched nine scoreless innings in Grapefruit League action.
“There are a couple things that I still want to continue to do,” Burres said. “But as far as where I am now, I think I’ve done a pretty decent job this spring trying to do the things that I’ve wanted to do.”
Karstens hasn’t had as good of results as Burres has, but the right-hander is nonetheless pleased with his progression to this point. Pitching mostly against players from the Pirates’ Latin American teams, Karstens didn’t allow a hit and struck out six in three innings in the intrasquad game.
“With some of the young guys it’s a little bit easier because their approach is a little bit different,” Karstens said afterward. “When you’re over here [in big league camp], you know the guys have an idea of what they’re trying to do. But I tried to come in with some fastballs after the first inning. I made some mistakes with it – got away with them – and I made some good pitches. It’s a positive note. I was able to get ahead. Just nice to get back out there and throw more than two innings.”
Karstens has made four Grapefruit League appearances, three of which have been two-inning outings. In those seven innings, Karstens has allowed nine hits, two earned runs and walked three.
There was good and bad to Ross Ohlendorf’s start on Thursday — though Ohlendorf would attest that there was more good. The pitching line is ugly — six earned runs on eight hits in three innings. But it wasn’t, Ohlendorf said, as bad as it might have seemed.
“I was actually really happy with how I threw the ball today,” he said. “The results, obviously, weren’t very good in that last inning, but a lot of the early hits weren’t hit that well. I felt like I kept the ball down when I wanted to much better than the game before. I threw the ball much better than I did before even though the results weren’t really indicative of that.”
Ohlendorf did make a mistake on a slider to Jake Fox, and that resulted in a two-run homer. The only other ball hit pretty hard in that six-run third inning could easily have been caught by Jose Tabata in the outfield.
“The challenge at this level is putting innings away,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “I thought there were times when he was throwing the ball really well – getting the ball inside when he wanted to. He spun the ball OK on occasion. But the one inning got away from us. There was some positive in it, but the inability to put away the inning that’s where we have to get better.”
Still, it’s not pretty when you consider that Ohlendorf has allowed 10 earned runs in his last two games (five innings). And probably the biggest concern is that Ohlendorf has yet to go more than three innings in any of his starts.
Yes, he is throwing the pitches needed to build up his arm. But there is something to be said for pitchers using those pitches efficiently to get through four or five innings by this point in the spring.
Right now, only Paul Maholm and Kevin Correia have made a five-inning spring start.
“We’ve got work to do,” Hurdle said. “We’re not throwing enough strikes. We don’t have good enough command right now. I have no idea what our pitch count was today, but we threw way too many pitches today. We’d like to see our starters lengthen things out. There is work to be done. That’s what Spring Training is for. That’s why you have the amount of games that you have, and that’s why these starters have to keep building up their pitch counts.”
Both Joe Beimel and Olsen pitched again on Thursday, and the results weren’t too pretty.
Beimel was charged with three earned runs on three hits and a walk in an inning of relief. This was his second spring appearance.
As for Olsen, he was unable to finish two innings, as he had to be taken out after pitching 1 1/3. Olsen gave up three runs on three hits and three walks. He struck out one.
“We’ll keep feeding them the ball, too,” Hurdle said. “They started out behind. Neither one of them are complaining about any injuries or any arm fatigue or anything like that, so just keep feeding them the ball.”
I’m still skeptical that Olsen is truly in that fifth starter mix, and Hurdle didn’t exactly affirm that Olsen was when I asked the question afterward.
In response to a question about whether Olsen was still a candidate for the rotation, Hurdle answered: “I don’t know. He could be. I can’t say no. I’ll leave the speculation out there for people who want to speculate. I’ll keep giving him the ball and see where it takes him.”
That’s not exactly a yes.
Catcher Ryan Doumit (mild oblique strain) is scheduled to play in Friday’s game against the Phillies. Doumit went 3-for-4 with a double and home run in a Minor League game on Thursday.
Though Doumit hasn’t played since March 8, he will have plenty of time to get ready for Opening Day assuming there are no further setbacks.
Outfielder Miles Durham said he was OK after a nasty collision with the right field wall in the ninth inning. He was down for a while, but walked off the field without any help. And he seemed just fine about 20 minutes later when he was leaving the ballpark.
“A big man hit the wall really, really hard,” Hurdle said.
On the main site tonight, you can read more about the changes Steve Pearce is making to his swing and how those changes might help him in his case for a bench spot. There will also be items on Burres/Karstens, Pedro Ciriaco’s day in centerfield and Olsen’s focus on staying healthy.
Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB