Results tagged ‘ Steve Pearce ’
Manager Clint Hurdle made a point when he benched Ronny Cedeno for one game last month after Cedeno didn’t run out a ball. Hurdle made a POINT on Thursday when he left Andrew McCutchen out of the lineup for the same reason. Sitting a guy who has been in the doghouse before and isn’t one of the integral pieces in the lineup can be pretty easy to do. But to make an effective point, Hurdle needed to be consistent — and he’s being just that by letting the team know that he’ll call out anyone for a lack of effort.
“We are focused on winning, but we are focused on building something greater and better as we go forward,” Hurdle said. “I think there are certain things that are non-negotiable along those lines.”
McCutchen did not run to first in the eighth inning after striking out. He will, Hurdle said, be available off the bench on Thursday.
Other news and notes:
- Second baseman Neil Walker is back in the lineup… for now. Walker was going to go through batting practice and see how he felt closer to game time. Those flu-like symptoms that kept him out on Wednesday (Walker was sent home before the game began) aren’t completely gone — but he is improving.
- If Walker can’t play — or whenever he gets future days off — it sounds like Cedeno would be the first choice to play second. Cedeno and Brandon Wood have been getting work there for the past week, but the Pirates felt more comfortable using Cedeno at the position and he did nothing last night that has changed anyone’s mind.
- Steve Pearce has actually been getting work at second over the past two days as well. This is a case of, well, just in case. Pearce isn’t going to be making starts at second, and he remains behind Walker, Cedeno and Wood on the depth chart at the position. But if the Pirates get into a bind, they like having Pearce as an emergency option.
- Right-hander Kevin Hart threw 25 pitches in a simulated live batting practice session. It was an encouraging sign for a guy who hadn’t thrown to hitters since having shoulder surgery in May 2010.
- For those not in the local market, tonight’s Dodgers-Pirates game is the MLB.TV free game of the day. Log on to MLB.com and watch the game online.
PIRATES: X. Paul (CF), J. Tabata (LF), G. Jones (RF), N. Walker (2B), P. Alvarez (3B), L. Overbay (1B), C. Snyder (C), R. Cedeno (SS), C. Morton (RHP)
DODGERS: T. Gwynn Jr (LF), A. Miles (2B), A. Ethier (RF), M. Kemp (CF), J. Uribe (3B), J. Loney (1B), D. Navarro (C), J. Carroll (SS), J. Garland (RHP)
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The defending World Series champs are in town, which means former Pirates Freddy Sanchez and Javier Lopez are visiting for the next three days. Oh, and it’s been raining. Weather could be a factor each of the next two days.
News and notes…
- In case you missed it, the Pirates claimed Xavier Paul off waivers today from the Dodgers. He’s an outfielder, so you’d have to think that either John Bowker or Steve Pearce are going to be on their way out soon. More on that here.
- Paul is likely to arrive in Pittsburgh either Wednesday or Thursday. He has 72 hours to report, so technically he could also meet the team in Colorado on Friday.
- Ross Ohlendorf will throw his first bullpen session on Wednesday. He threw from a distance of 120 feet today. Ohlendorf will throw 2-3 bullpens and then a live batting practice session. Once he gets through all those steps, he’ll begin a Minor League rehab assignment that will likely last one or two starts.
- In case you missed it last night, it was confirmed that Jameson Taillon (No. 2 overall pick in 2010) will make his professional debut on Wednesday. He is joining the low-A West Virginia rotation. And as the schedule would have it, Taillon will be facing Bryce Harper’s Hagerstown team. So it’ll be No. 1 vs. No. 2.
- Manager Clint Hurdle mentioned yesterday that he wanted to find a day off for Jose Tabata and Neil Walker pretty soon. For Tabata, that day ended up being Tuesday. Matt Diaz moves to left and Garrett Jones sticks in right. Walker’s day off will have to wait, though Brandon Wood is spelling Ronny Cedeno a day.
- With his save on Monday, Joel Hanrahan is 6-for-6 in save opportunities this month. The last Pittsburgh closer with more than six April saves was Salomon Torres. He had eight in April 2007.
- Right-hander Jose Ascanio (who was struck in the head by a line drive last Friday) returned to the mound for Triple-A Indianapolis on Monday. It was not a stellar outing (1 1/3 IP, 2 H, 4 ER, 1 HR, 2 BB), but certainly a good sign that he was OK after a scary incident.
- All-Star ballots have been released and you can find more information on how to vote online here. This year’s game will be played in Phoenix.
PIRATES: A. McCutchen (CF), M. Diaz (LF), L. Overbay (1B), N. Walker (2B), G. Jones (RF), R. Doumit (C), P. Alvarez (3B), B. Wood (SS), C. Morton (RHP)
GIANTS: A. Rowand (CF), F. Sanchez (2B), A. Huff (1B), B. Posey (C), P. Sandoval (3B), P. Burrell (LF), C. Ross (RF), M. Tejada (SS), M. Cain (RHP)
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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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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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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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The Pirates cut five players from big league camp on Friday morning, in turn dwindling the number of players still around to 36. That still means that 11 players will have to leave in the next week. But the roster is beginning to take shape with some clarity.
The following moves were made on Friday:
- RHP Tyler Yates reassigned to Minor League camp
- RHP Sean Gallagher reassigned to Minor League camp
- RHP Daniel McCutchen optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis
- INF Josh Fields reassigned to Minor League camp
- C Wyatt Toregas reassigned to Minor League camp
Also, general manager Neal Huntington confirmed that lefty Joe Beimel will not be ready to begin the season with the Major League club. Beimel will throw another bullpen session this weekend, but that does not give him time to get enough innings in before next week’s season opener. Beimel will remain in Florida for extended Spring Training and could even pitch a bit in Indianapolis, if he still needs to build his innings count by the time the Minor League season begins.
With Beimel out of the Opening Day mix, the following relievers are competing for two open spots: Garrett Olson, Brian Burres, Chris Leroux and Mike Crotta.
Other morning news and notes…
- Huntington said that the team has not yet finalized whether it will take two or three catchers north. A decision on that should come soon, Huntington added. The makeup of the bench really hinges on which way the Pirates go with this.
- Before leaving McKechnie Field on Friday, Fields say he was unsure whether he’d report to Triple-A Indianapolis or ask for his release.
- With Fields out of the mix for the corner utility bench spot, that leaves Steve Pearce and Andy Marte as the last two standing. Huntington said that there really is no scenario in which both Pearce and Marte make the club.
- Brad Lincoln (right arm contusion) threw from a distance of 120 feet on Friday and said he felt fine. He is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Saturday.
- James McDonald remains scheduled to pitch in a Minor League game on Saturday.
On a side note, MLBlogs is changing its software (hopefully for the better) today, which means this blog is expected to be down during the afternoon hours. It might still be able to be accessed by you, but it won’t be able to be updated by me. Wanted to give you a head’s up so that you weren’t searching for anything new on here this afternoon. Once the update is done, I’ll get to learning the new program.
PIRATES: P. Ciriaco (CF), J. Rodriguez (SS), J. Bowker (LF), R. Doumit (C), S. Pearce (3B), M. Diaz (RF), A. Marte (1B), C. Wimberly (2B), C. Morton (RHP)
Pitchers: C. Morton, J. Hanrahan, J. Veras
RAYS: B. Zobrist (RF), E. Johnson (2B), E. Longoria (3B), M. Ramirez (DH), D. Johnson (1B), B.J. Upton (CF), K. Shoppach (C), R. Brignac (SS), S. Fuld (LF), J. Niemann (RHP)
Pitchers: J. Niemann
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News about roster cuts (Garrett Atkins released; Justin Thomas and Fernando Nieve reassigned to Minor League camp) and about Scott Olsen’s setback can be found in previous blog entries from this morning. Here are the rest of your morning leftovers…
- James McDonald will throw another bullpen session on Wednesday. After that, I would imagine he’d be ready to resume pitching in games. The Pirates have not said how McDonald’s absence will affect his ability to be ready for the start of the regular season.
- Brad Lincoln’s right arm is still swollen, but he said his range of motion and strength is coming back. Lincoln, who was hit in that arm on Friday, said he hopes to resume throwing (on flat ground) on Wednesday. This means he is definitely missing at least one turn through the rotation.
- Lefty Joe Beimel had a cortisone shot in his left arm on Sunday. He is not throwing today and will be reevaluated tomorrow. Beimel said he is feeling much better and seems to think he won’t be sidelined long.
- Garrett Jones is still dealing with some neck/shoulder soreness, though he doesn’t expect the issue to linger. He said he felt a little pop when running on Thursday and that his neck kept getting tighter. He did take six at-bats in a Minor League game on Sunday, so he’s on his way back. Jones is not in the lineup on Monday.
- Catcher Chris Snyder will get 3-4 at-bats in a Minor League game on Monday. He’ll also put his gear on and catch a bullpen session. Assuming all goes well, Snyder, who was out with back soreness, will then catch in a Minor League game on Tuesday.
- Shortstop Ronny Cedeno will join Snyder to get at-bats in a Minor League game on Monday. With so many players left in camp, it’s normal for position players to take turn playing in Minor League games simply so they can get their work in.
- The Pirates announced that they will be having a 3 p.m. workout at Wrigley Field on March 31, the day before the club opens the season. The workout is not open to the public.
- Steve Pearce is playing left field on Monday. Just another chance for Pearce to showcase his versatility. That corner utility spot is down to Pearce, Andy Marte and Josh Fields. I get the impression that Fields is on the outside looking in.
PIRATES: A. McCutchen (CF), N. Walker (2B), S. Pearce (LF), L. Overbay (1B), M. Diaz (RF), P. Alvarez (3B), J. Rodriguez (SS), J. Jaramillo (C), P. Maholm (LHP)
Pitchers: P. Maholm (six innings), Garrett Olson, Jose Veras, Sean Gallagher
TWINS: D. Span (CF), M. Tolbert (SS), J. Mauer (C), D. Young (DH), J. Bailey (1B), L. Hughes (2B), B. Dinkelman (LF), C. Lambin (3B), J. Repko (RF)
Pitchers: B. Duensing, M. Capps, C. Gutierrez, J. Hoey, C. James, G. Perkins
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As the Pirates meet with a nutritionist this morning, I bring you today’s morning news and notes…
- Brad Lincoln was walking around the clubhouse with a sleeve on his right arm after getting hit by a line drive near his elbow on Friday. Lincoln said his arm is very stiff and that he will continue to get treatment today. Normally, he’d be scheduled to throw a side session two days after his last outing (so that would be tomorrow), but his guess now is that he won’t be able to do that. How that might affect Lincoln’s next start is unknown at this point.
- You can read more on pirates.com later, but Kevin Hart was legitimately disappointed to know that he is going to have to open the season on the disabled list. Until recently, the right-hander truly believed he’d be ready to go by Opening Day. Now, he has no chance of being in Pittsburgh until June at the earliest. “You always think you’re going to be the exception,” Hart said, implying that he thought his recovery from surgery would be quicker than most.
- Right-hander Chris Resop talked this morning about the difficulty of coming in cold yesterday to finish out the third inning after Lincoln left with the injury. He went with all fastballs to get through that frame and loosen up his arm. Resop did mix in a number of changeups in his next two innings and ended up having a pretty good day. He hasn’t been told he has made the club yet, but I just don’t see a scenario in which Resop isn’t on the 25-man Opening Day roster.
- The Pirates are on Fox Sports Net today for those of you back in Pittsburgh.
- Right-hander Jose Ascanio is scheduled to throw batting practice over at Pirate City today. If my memory is right, this will be Ascanio’s second BP session. Usually pitchers are cleared to return to game action after two, so it will be interesting to see if Ascanio makes his first spring appearance next week.
- Left-hander Garrett Olson, who the Pirates claimed off waivers on Friday, is scheduled to arrive in Bradenton tonight. The tentative schedule is to have him throw a side on Sunday and then pitch in Monday’s game.
- The following pitchers are scheduled to throw on Sunday: Charlie Morton, Evan Meek, Michael Crotta, Chris Leroux
- Righty Joel Hanrahan is down to throw one inning in a Triple-A game on Sunday.
- Steve Pearce is expected to get some playing time at third base today. I have not seen Pearce play third in a game yet, so I’ll be interested to see how he looks there.
- We’re down to 32 teams in the NCAA tournament after two days of games, and S. Gassert is currently leading the Bucs Bits Bloggers tourney. I’ll update the leaderboard after each round.
PIRATES: J. Tabata (LF), N. Walker (2B), A. McCutchen (CF), L. Overbay (1B), P. Alvarez (3B), M. Diaz (RF), R. Cedeno (SS), D. Brown (C), K. Correia (RHP)
Pitchers: K. Correia, J. Hanrahan, J. Beimel, F. Nieve, J. Thomas
RED SOX: M. Scutaro (SS), D. Pedroia (2B), J. Saltalamacchia (C), K. Youkilis (3B), M. Cameron (DH), D. McDonald (CF), D. Nava (LF), J. Reddick (RF), N. Spears (1B)
Pitchers: J. Beckett, A. Aceves, D. Wheeler
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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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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.
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