Results tagged ‘ Tom Gorzelanny ’

July 19: Giants (49-41) @ Pirates (40-50)

I’m back from a few days off and will be on the beat all the way until Trade Deadline day so let’s all buckle in… Nothing much in terms of clubhouse news came out of the media’s daily meeting with John Russell, but here’s some stuff to chew on for those who need some early morning Bucs bits:

  • The Pirates enter Sunday’s game against the Giants having beaten SF 10 of the last 13 times the two teams have played. The Pirates have won five straight against the Giants here at PNC Park. However, it’s certainly worth noting that the Giants team the Pirates have beaten the last two days is a significant improvement over the club the team had assembled the last few years.
  • With his appearance on Saturday, John Grabow became the all-time career appearance leader at PNC Park. He has made 189 appearances here in the nine-year existence of the park.
  • When Zach Duke takes the mound later this afternoon, he’ll be handed the task of trying to keep the staff’s scoreless streak alive. Pirates pitchers have not allowed an earned run in their last 30 innings.
  • Go figure this one: Though the Pirates’ 40-50 record is ranked 13th in the NL, Pittsburgh actually has the fourth best home winning percentage (.585, 24-17).
  • After going 4-for-6 with two RBIs on Saturday, outfielder Lastings Milledge is now hitting .520 in seven games with Triple-A Indianapolis.
  • Indianapolis left-hander Tom Gorzelanny picked up another win and another quality start on Thursday, as he allowed just one earned run in six innings. Since returning to Triple-A, Gorzelanny is 3-2 with a 1.07 ERA in six starts.
  • Single-A shortstop Chase d’Arnaud will be out the rest of the season after spraining ligaments in his left thumb. D’Arnaud, a fourth-round selection in 2008, hit .279 in 19 games with high-A Lynchburg after hitting .291 in 62 games with low-A West Virginia, which is where he started the season.
  • Of Garrett Jones’ 16 hits with the Pirates, 11 have gone for extra bases.
  • First baseman Adam LaRoche is hitless in his last 21 at-bats and has just two hits in his last 36 at-bats. This is certainly an aberration from LaRoche’s usual July numbers. He is 4-for-46 this month after coming into the season a career .322 hitter in July.

Pirates lineup:

  1. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  2. Freddy Sanchez (2B)
  3. Garrett Jones (RF)
  4. Ryan Doumit (C)
  5. Adam LaRoche (1B)
  6. Brandon Moss (LF)
  7. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  8. Jack Wilson (SS)
  9. Zach Duke (LHP)

Giants lineup:

  1. Aaron Rowand (CF)
  2. Randy Winn (LF)
  3. Pablo Sandoval (3B)
  4. Bengie Molina (C)
  5. Nate Schierholtz (RF)
  6. Edgar Renteria (SS)
  7. John Bowker (1B)
  8. Kevin Frandsen (2B)
  9. Matt Cain (RHP)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

July 4: Pirates (37-43) @ Marlins (41-40); Happy 4th of July

Happy July 4th, everyone. Not sure why you’re busy reading this blog when you should be grilling out, headed to watch a fireworks show or enjoying time with family. But since baseball is America’s Pastime, I guess there’s a built-in excuse to check in for some baseball news, too.

There won’t be any BBQ for me (unless the press dining ladies here are so kind…), but I do get to look forward to a fireworks show and a concert from KC and the Sunshine Band later while I’m trying to write my gamestory. Maybe that would be more exciting if I actually knew who KC and the Sunshine Band was. Sorry for those who are now shaking their heads or wondering what planet I live on. But unless it’s country, I’m just not up on the music scene. At all. Past or present.

Well, folks, today also marks another milestone besides just our country’s 233rd birthday. It’s game #81, effectively marking the halfway point of the season. There have been huge steps forward made in some case (Zach Duke) and steps back by others (Ian Snell). Some have been consistent (Freddy Sanchez), while others have labored to show they belong as an everyday player (Brandon Moss). Some have arrived (oh boy, where do I start… Andrew McCutchen, Charlie Morton, Delwyn Young…), only to see others depart (Nate McLouth, Nyjer Morgan, Sean Burnett among them).

Still, the Pirates sit a respectable six games behind first-place St. Louis, though the team is still six games below .500. It’s still too early to tell if there will be relevant baseball in the second half of the season, though much of that will likely be determined by how these next eight days leading up to the All-Star Break go. If nothing else, the fact that the Pirates currently have eight rookies on the team — the most on any team in the Majors — should at least give us all a glimpse of what’s coming in the next few years.

As for today’s news, notes and randomness…

  • Freddy Sanchez remained out of the lineup again on Saturday, again because of tightness in his lower back. Sanchez confirmed that the problem is back spasms — not a pulled muscle. He continues to get treatment, though it seemed unlikely that Sanchez would be able to take swings pregame, which makes his availability as a pinch hitter quite questionable.
  • With Sanchez listed as day-to-day, it’s somewhat surprising to me that the Pirates have not opted to call up another infielder for protection — someone along the lines of Luis Cruz. If someone else in the middle infield were to go down, the Pirates really don’t have any replacements ready. And with Steve Pearce unlikely to get any playing time, it’d seem to make sense for him to be the one sent down to open a roster spot. Just me thinking outloud…
  • Ryan Doumit went 0-for-5 with one strikeout as the DH in a Gulf Coast League game on Saturday. He is flying to Indianapolis tonight so that he can join the Triple-A team on Sunday and continue his rehab there. A door has been left open for Doumit to return before the All-Star Break.
  • Both Indian pitchers — Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel – made their professional debuts on Saturday. Pitching for the GCL Pirates, Singh allowed two hits and one run in one inning. The left-hander struck out one and threw 19 pitches. Patel needed just eight pitches to get through his inning of relief. He struck out one and didn’t allow a baserunner.
  • Pedro Alvarez returned to action for Double-A Altoona on Friday and went 1-for-3 with a double and two strikeouts. Alvarez sat out for four days while dealing with left knee tendinitis.
  • Left-hander Tom Gorzelanny continues to shine down in Triple-A, with his latest stellar outing coming on Friday. Gorzelanny pitched eight innings and was charged with just one unearned run. He gave up five hits and walked none while striking out five. He certainly seems to be the next candidate for a rotation spot in Pittsburgh.
  • Speaking of Triple-A pitchers, Ian Snell is taking the mound for Indianapolis later this evening. It is his first start since striking out 17 — including 13 straight — in his 2009 Indy debut.
  • Interestingly enough, the Pirates haven’t played a night game on July 4 since 1990. They lost that game 5-4 in San Diego.
  • Manager John Russell did a bit more campaigning for Sanchez and Zach Duke to be included on the All-Star team. Those selections will be made on Sunday.
  • The Pirates have won five straight (four this season) against the Marlins. That’s the longest streak since the Pirates won seven consecutive games against Florida from July 7, 2004 – June 1, 2005.
  • The Pirates’ win on Friday was the first victory the team has had in Jack Wilson’s four games hitting second in the order. He’s there again on Saturday.
  • As they did on Friday, the Pirates and Marlins will wear the “Stars and Stripes” caps again on Saturday. I was a bit confused to see the caps come out on Friday since we were originally told they’d be worn just on the weekend, but oh well. The caps are also available for purchase at mlb.com. For every cap purchased, MLB.com will donate at least $1 to Welcome Back Veterans, a program that addresses the mental health and job needs of returning American Veterans. So get shopping!
  • Baseball is also honoring the 70th anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s farewell speech on Saturday. All players and personnel will wear a “4ALS” patch  to raise awareness for the fight against ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Each first base will also have that “4ALS” logo on it, and I’ve heard that Jeff Conine will be at Land Shark Stadium to read Gehrig’s “Luckiest Man” speech before Saturday’s game.
  • Some minor Minor League roster moves: Outfielder Jonel Pacheco and catcher Milver Reyes have been promoted from Double-A to Triple-A. Infielder Ray Chang was promoted from Single-A Lynchburg to Double-A Altoona.

 
Pirates lineup:

  1. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  2. Jack Wilson (SS)
  3. Delwyn Young (RF)
  4. Adam LaRoche (1B)
  5. Garrett Jones (LF)
  6. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  7. Robinzon Diaz (C)
  8. Ramon Vazquez (SS)
  9. Zach Duke (LHP)

Marlins lineup:

  1. Emilio Bonifacio (3B)
  2. Jeremy Hermida (LF)
  3. Hanley Ramirez (SS)
  4. Jorge Cantu (1B)
  5. Dan Uggla (2B)
  6. Cody Ross (CF)
  7. Ronny Paulino (C)
  8. Brett Carroll (RF)
  9. Andrew Miller (LHP) 

June 28: Royals (31-42) @ Pirates (35-39)

So after two wins with those Homestead Greys uniforms, the Pirates petitioned to wear them again on Sunday… OK, so that’s not exactly true, but those uniforms did serve the team well with wins on Friday and Saturday.

The club is back to pinstripes today as the Pirates go for their third sweep this season. You have to go all the way back to 2001 to find the last time Pittsburgh swept an Interleague series. The Pirates swept Cleveland in ’01. Their only other Interleague sweep came over the White Sox in 1997.

News and notes fro the morning…

  • The merry-go-round that is right field stopped on Eric Hinske on Sunday. Hinske is the third different right fielder to get a start this series, a rotation that’s been inadvertently created because manager John Russell has too many options. Hinske is 3-for-9 with two extra-base hits against Kansas City ace Zack Greinke, so you can see Russell’s logic there.
  • Russell wanted to give Freddy Sanchez the day off and Ramon Vazquez the start on Sunday, but those plans changed after Vazquez apparently caught some sort of stomach bug. He was throwing up much of the day on Saturday. His condition has improved to where he can at least be a pinch hitting option on Sunday if needed.
  • All-Star teams will be announced one week from today, and Russell made a strong statement for Zach Duke’s inclusion on the club. Coming into Sunday, Zach was tied for fifth in the league with eight wins and ranked 10th with his 3.09 ERA. It’s not the numbers, though, that are Duke’s biggest bragging rights, but the consistency behind the numbers: “He doesn’t have the huge numbers like some guys have, but if you look at the consistency that he’s developed, yeah, I do think he should be considered,” Russell said. “Absolutely. You look at some of his losses and we didn’t score any runs for him. He’s been very consistent. I think that’s something to consider.”
  • Sanchez would seem to be the other legitimate All-Star candidate on this club. Though you wouldn’t know it by the way the voting has been going, Sanchez has been as good as there is at second base this season. His .317 batting average is the best among all Major League second baseman. He has committed just one error in the field. And with 24 doubles, he’s tied for second in the league in that category. So where’s the love?
  • On a Minor League note, thought you might be interested in Tom Gorzelanny’s line from his start with Triple-A Indy on Saturday. Gorzelanny pitched five innings, allowed two unearned runs, walked two, allowed four hits and struck out 12. Yes, 12. Since being sent back down to Indianapolis, Gorzelanny has gone 2-0 and allowed just two earned runs in 14 innings. And according to Russell, the reports on Gorzelanny are as good as the numbers: “He’s maintained the velocity he had here,” Russell said. “He has maintained the approach he’s had here. He’s had success doing it. If he continues on, he’s going to put himself in a very good position to be able to come up here and start again if needed.”

 ***

Pirates lineup:

  1. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  2. Nyjer Morgan (LF)
  3. Freddy Sanchez (2B)
  4. Adam LaRoche (1B)
  5. Eric Hinske (RF)
  6. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  7. Jason Jaramillo (C)
  8. Jack Wilson (SS)
  9. Charlie Morton (RHP)

Royals lineup:

  1. David DeJesus (LF)
  2. Willie Bloomquist (SS)
  3. Jose Guillen (RF)
  4. Mike Jacobs (1B)
  5. Brayan Pena (C)
  6. Alberto Callaspo (2B)
  7. Mark Teahen (3B)
  8. Mitch Maier (CF)
  9. Zack Greinke (RHP)

June 25: Indians (30-43) @ Pirates (32-39); Vasquez to start Friday

UPDATE 6:55 pm: Virgil Vasquez will make the start on Friday in place of Charlie Morton. Morton is then scheduled to step into Snell’s spot in the rotation and pitch Sunday. Though Morton said he felt fine to go on Friday, this move gives the right-hander two extra days to let his left hamstring heal a bit more.

Vasquez went 5-2 with a 4.18 ERA in 14 starts with Triple-A Indianapolis. 

***

Well, the rest of the news around here certainly pales in comparison to the big move of the day, that being the Pirates’ decision to send Ian Snell to Triple-A Indianapolis. There will be much more on how this decision came about and who made it on the main website shortly (some quotes are below in the previous entry), but I wanted to set up another link here with the rest of the afternoon’s news…

  • There is still no final decision made on who Friday’s starter is going to be. Charlie Morton (strained left hamstring) continues to tell us that he feels just fine and is ready to make his start on Friday, but the staff wanted to see Morton go through some workouts this afternoon before making a final decision. We should know what’s going on before the end of the night.
  • If Morton can pitch on Friday, then Virgil Vasquez (who is on his way up from Indy as I type) will pitch in Snell’s spot on Sunday. If the Pirates want to be cautious with Morton’s situation, Vasquez will pitch tomorrow. Your Sunday starter could then be Morton.
  • Catcher Ryan Doumit was out running the bases earlier this afternoon, but the biggest news is that he has now progressed to the point where he can take batting practice in the cage. Still no word on when a rehab assignment would begin.
  • There’s a story on the main site with this information, but in case you missed it, both Brad Lincoln and Pedro Alvarez have been selected to participate in the All-Star Futures Game in St. Louis. Each organization can have up to two players selected (last year Pittsburgh had just one — Andrew McCutchen). I will be out in St. Louis covering the All-Star Game, so I’m pumped to get to see the two farm system studs play.
  • Speaking of Alvarez, he went deep again on Thursday for Double-A Altoona with a two-run shot in the first. Alvarez also doubled in the game, scored twice and drove in three.
  • As expected, catcher Tony Sanchez, the No. 4 overall pick in this summer’s Draft, has been promoted to low Single-A West Virigina. He’ll arrive on Saturday after attending the Johnny Bench award ceremony in Kansas
  • Another promotion to note: Chase d’Arnaud, the club’s fourth-round pick in last year’s Draft, has been promoted to Single-A Lynchburg. D’Arnaud recently played in the South Atlantic League All-Star Game and hit. 291 with 14 doubles, three triples, three homers and 31 RBIs in 62 games with low-A West Virginia.
  • Also worth noting that manager John Russell gave Brandon Moss the start in right on Thursday against a left-handed pitcher. Moss has gotten the day off against lefty starters all season, but it’s hard to argue that Delwyn Young and Steve Pearce (both of whom have had their defensive issues in the outfield) would be better options. As Russell joked: “It’s time to take the training wheels off.”

***

Pirates lineup:

  1. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  2. Nyjer Morgan (LF)
  3. Freddy Sanchez (2B)
  4. Adam LaRoche (1B)
  5. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  6. Brandon Moss (RF)
  7. Jason Jaramillo (C)
  8. Jack Wilson (SS)
  9. Ross Ohlendorf (RHP)

Indians lineup:

  1. Jamey Carroll (2B)
  2. Mark DeRosa (RF)
  3. Victor Martinez (1B)
  4. Shin-soo Choo (LF)
  5. Jhonny Peralta (3B)
  6. Ben Francisco (CF)
  7. Luis Valbuena (SS)
  8. Kelly Shoppach (C)
  9. Cliff Lee (LHP) 

Snell's starting status now in flux

So when I spoke with general manager Neal Huntington before coming to the ballpark early Wednesday afternoon, he confirmed that Ian Snell would make his start on Sunday even after his troubling results on Tuesday night.

That’s not necessarily the case now.

After Wednesday’s game, a baseball source confirmed with MLB.com that management is still in discussions regarding Snell’s status and that the right-hander might not actually make his next start afterall.

So apparently, we can all scratch that earlier confirmation.

I’m not quite sure what in the last few hours might have caused management to reconsider its earlier stance, but I do know that nothing is a guarantee now. Snell did work on some mechanical adjustments with pitching coach Joe Kerrigan earlier in the day, which could mean that the Pirates would like Snell to skip a start to continue to work out these mechanical issues. 

Or he could be moved to the bullpen. Or he could be sent to Triple-A to work out his problems there (Snell has one option remaining, so he could be sent down without any problem).

The Pirates have plenty of candidates to jump into Snell’s rotation spot if needed. Virgil Vasquez was being held back to start on Friday in case Charlie Morton can’t (that still is TBD). And Tom Gorzelanny and Daniel McCutchen are seen as Major League options as well. Too, there’s always Jeff Karstens, who could be moved back to the rotation.

Huntington expressed evident frustration with Snell’s consistent inconsistency this season earlier on Wednesday, so maybe it shouldn’t come as much as a surprise that management is reconsidering whether or not Snell can work out his problems without any sort of change. As Huntington pointed out, there have been flickers of promise at times this year. But at the same time, it’s impossible to ignore the 11-27 record and 5.24 ERA Snell has since the midway point of the 2007 season.    

June 10: Pirates (26-32) @ Braves (29-28)

First off, apologies that I’m getting this up later than usual. Been having all sorts of problems getting onto my blog. But now that I’ve got that taken care of, let’s go…

***

RHP Charlie Morton is in Atlanta (he shouldn’t have had any trouble finding the ballpark) and wearing No. 37. All of us media folks kept with the unspoken rule of not talking to the day’s starting pitcher, so I’ll have to wait until postgame to talk with the guy.

The word from the Atlanta people who have talked with him is that Morton has the stuff but can often overthink. And the word from Indy is that Morton was already beginning to feel the weight of being traded for Nate McLouth on his shoulders. All this doesn’t necessarily bode well for Morton, considering he has to make his first start against McLouth and his former team.

Stay tuned…

***

Manager John Russell went into a little more detail about the decision to move Jeff Karstens into the bullpen and promote Morton. Apparently the decision was made over the weekend (though no one cared to fill us in), and not after Karstens’ bullpen appearance on Monday.

Russell also emphasized that it wasn’t so much a knock on Karstens as it was just the opportunity to get Morton into a Major League rotation.

“He’s been pitching very well,” Russell said. “He had a stint in the Major Leagues last year and has some struggles. But he went back to Triple-A this year and had some very quality starts. We just felt like it was time to get him up here and let him go. We feel like Charlie is a quality pitcher and would like to get him in the rotation.”

Also, know that Wednesday’s start is not like a tryout of sorts for Morton. He’s here to stay for the time being and will get ample opportunity to show he deserves the fifth spot in the rotation.

***

Karstens is taking the move to the bullpen in stride, though there was still evident disappointment. He will be the long-relief option that the Pirates really haven’t had all year (well, except when Gorzelanny was here), though Russell said he’ll also use Karstens in one-inning situations as needed.

This isn’t Karstens’ first time in a big-league bullpen either. He made six relief appearances for the Yankees in 2006 and 2007.

***

Right-hander Tyler Yates has returned to Pittsburgh, where doctors are going to have another look at his right elbow. Yates had to stop throwing on Tuesday after the pain in his elbow returned. There belief is still that Yates doesn’t have any sort of structural damage in his arm, but everyone is waiting to see what the next course of action now is.

***

Caught up with first base coach Perry Hill earlier, who was still shaking his head about being tossed in Tuesday’s game. In 25 years of professional baseball, Hill had never been ejected from a game.

He was sent to the clubhouse by umpire Doug Eddings in the 8th inning on Tuesday after disagreeing with Eddings, who called Delwyn Young out at first. Replays clearly show that Young was safe.

Needless to say, the ejection caught Hill offguard simply because he didn’t feel he said anything wrong. He didn’t curse. He didn’t say “you” to the umpire. He simply asked to talk with Eddings about the call.

“I was positive,” Hill said. “I didn’t say anything disrespectful. I said I just wanted to talk about the call.”

Eddings told Hill he only talks to managers (Russell was running to first as Hill and Eddings were talking), and Hill was tossed before Russell arrived.

***

Minor Matters:

  • Outfielder Jose Tabata made his return to Double-A Altoona after missing time with a right hamstring strain. He had two at-bats, but then left the game with a hamstring cramp. The injury is not anything serious.
  • The Pirates have acquired outfielder Chris Snelling from the Padres for future considerations. Snelling has been assigned to Triple-A Indianapolis. Snelling has appeared in 93 Major League games in his career, but none this year.
  • RHP Jeff Locke, who the Pirates acquired in last week’s trade, made his first appearance for Single-A Lynchburg on Tuesday. He allowed two runs on five hits in four innings. He walked three and struck out two.
  • LHP Daniel Moskos, the Pirates’ first-round Draft pick in 2007, pitched well in Altoona’s loss earlier on Wednesday. He lasted seven innings, giving up two runs on six hits.

 

Charlie Morton to start for Pirates on Wednesday

Though Pirates manager John Russell reiterated earlier on Tuesday that Jeff Karstens will make his scheduled start on Wednesday, the Pirates have now decided to hand the ball to recently-acquired right-hander Charlie Morton.

According to two sources, Morton will be recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis on Wednesday to take Karstens’ spot in the rotation. The fact that Karstens was needed in relief during Monday’s 15-inning affair could be playing a role in this decision. But it’s no secret that the Pirates were already looking for a way to get Morton into the big-league mix.

The Pirates are expected to send left-hander Tom Gorzelanny back to Indianapolis, where he can reenter the Indians’ rotation. Karstens would then provide the Pirates with a long-inning option out of the bullpen.

Morton was one of three prospects the Pirates received from in last week’s trade with Atlanta. In his only start since the trade, Morton tossed seven scoreless innings and gave up just four hits. With the Braves’ Triple-A affiliate, Morton went 7-2 with a 2.51 ERA in 10 starts to begin the year.

Wednesday will mark Morton’s first appearance in the Majors this year, though he will be quite familiar with the team he faces. Morton made his Major League debut for the Braves last season and eventually finished the year 4-8 with a 6.15 ERA in 16 appearances (15 starts). 

May 31: notes from GM Huntington's weekly press session

As he always does before Sunday home games, general manager Neal Huntington met with members of the media in the press box. Among the topics covered today…

  • Huntington stressed that the Pirates are going to be extremely conservative in bringing catcher Ryan Doumit back from his wrist injury. Huntington went as far asto say that it could be after the All-Star break before Doumit is cleared to return to the big-league club. Doumit will have his next CT scan during the third week in June and won’t be hitting until at least then. It’s the swinging of the bat, not the throwing, that the Pirates are most concerned about.

“We as an organization have to make sure that we look out for Ryan’s best long-term health and our own long-term health,” Huntington said. “Ryan hates it, but we’re going to be conservative here and make sure we do the right thing for him. It should be the hitting that is going to be more problematic coming back. He’s going to have been down long enough that we’re going to have to get some baseball activities back in there before we drop him back into the middle of the lineup. Bottom line is it’s going to be what is best for Ryan’s health, and what is best long-term for the organization.”

  • Huntington called the decision to place Donnie Veal on the DL an “aggressive” one. Had this same injury happened to a reliever that the Pirates used frequently, the Pirates very well may have taken a wait-it-out sort of approach. But there are all sorts of advantages to putting Veal on the DL. The Pirates can get a more experienced reliever up here. Veal can be more intense in his side work, knowing that he won’t have to pitch in games. And Veal can go down to the Minors for a “rehab stint,” which would give him an opportunity to get regular appearances.

“Once he gets healthy, we can really get aggressive with some instruction and try to get him back on pitching,” Huntington said. “In a strange way, this injury might actually help him and get him some consistent outings in Triple-A and get him some intense instruction without having to worry about this being the night he gets in the game.”

  • Double-A outfielder Jose Tabata (strained right hamstring) is progressing in Bradenton, Fla. He has taken batting practice and is throwing and is expected to get into some extended Spring Training games beginning as early as late this week. … Huntington affirmed the organization’s continued desire to keep lefty Tom Gorzelanny as a starter, even though no timetable has been set for him to return to Indy’s rotation.
  •  

May 31: Astros (19-28) @ Pirates (22-27); Veal goes on DL

The Pirates have placed RHP Donnie Veal on the disabled list with a right groin strain. Veal suffered the injury during his two-inning stint on Friday, specifically on the 3-2 pitch he threw to Hunter Pence in the 7th. Veal said he had been slipping on the mound a bit, but slipped a little further on that pitch and felt a little tightness.

As a result, Pittsburgh will be one man short in the bullpen this afternoon. The Pirates will call up a reliever on Monday to take Veal’s place on the 25-man roster. 

As has been well-documented all season, the Pirates have been hiding Veal (a Rule 5 pick) in the bullpen all season, so not having his availability isn’t a significant loss. In fact, with another reliever in tow beginning on Monday, manager John Russell will have a little more flexibility in how he uses his relievers.

Chris Bootcheck and Steven Jackson, who is already on the Pirates’ 40-man roster, would seem the most likely candidates to be called up from Triple-A.

Boy, is this Pirates bullpen is battered and brusied all around. Tyler Yates and Craig Hansen are both on the DL indefinitely. Matt Capps is just coming back from a scary incident last Monday. This probably also means that Tom Gorzelanny, who the Pirates would like to get back into the Triple-A rotation, is here to stay a while longer.

***

Houston wraps up its season series here at PNC Park with Sunday’s rubber game. The ‘Stros took a series, 2-1, against the Pirates back in early April.  Russell is sticking with Andy LaRoche in the No. 2 spot in the lineup again on Sunday. LaRoche reached base three times from that spot on Saturday, which marked the first time this season that LaRoche had hit higher than fifth. It makes sense, though, right? LaRoche is the team’s hottest hitter at the moment, so why not maximize the number of plate apperances he’s going to get.

Nyjer Morgan gets the day off, as both Craig Monroe and Brandon Moss earned starts. While Monroe went 1-for-5 on Saturday, Moss’ pinch-hit RBI double in the eighth gave the Pirates six pinch-hit RBIs this season.

***

Pirates lineup:

  1. Nate McLouth (CF)
  2. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  3. Freddy Sanchez (2B)
  4. Craig Monroe (LF)
  5. Adam LaRoche (1B)
  6. Robinzon Diaz (C)
  7. Brandon Moss (RF)
  8. Jack Wilson (SS)
  9. Paul Maholm (LHP)

Astros lineup:

  1. Edwin Maysonet (2B)
  2. Miguel Tejada (SS)
  3. Hunter Pence (RF)
  4. Carlos Lee (LF)
  5. Lance Berkman (1B)
  6. Jason Michaels (CF)
  7. Jeff Keppinger (3B)
  8. Humberto Quintero (C)
  9. Mike Hampton (LHP)

May 29: Astros (18-27) @ Pirates (21-26); Capps available tonight

Back home and all sorts of news to run down…

Matt Capps threw a side session at PNC Park on Thursday and has been cleared to pitch in Friday night’s game if needed.

“Scary moment, but it’s good that nothing really happened,” manager John Russell said. “He feels pretty good.”

After what we all saw at Wrigley Field on Monday night, it’s pretty remarkable that Capps missed only two games.

***

Apparently, whatever is going on with right-hander Tyler Yates (right elbow inflammation) must be more serious than the Pirates are letting on. After having a round of tests earlier this week, Yates is going to have some more tests now, according to Russell.

Not much more was said on his status, but it’s not sounding like he’s going to be back pitching real soon. He is eligible to come off the DL on Sunday, but there is still no timetable for him to begin his return to pitching program.

***

With Yates out indefinitely, then what about Tom Gorzelanny? Asked Russell if there was an urgency to get Gorzelanny back in the Triple-A rotation and it sounds like the Pirates could make a decision to send the lefty back to Indy pretty soon if there is not an opportunity for Gorzelanny to get some innings in. He last pitched on Monday.

“We’ll look at it,” Russell said. “We don’t want to go too long. He’s done some throwing and it’s been more than one inning, so we feel like he’s been stretched out enough. But at some point we have to make a decision. He’s done a nice job, but I think as an organization we’d like to see him do that as a starter now – take that intensity and start. He hasn’t pitched in three days. If it goes too much longer than we’ll have to get him out to where he can get back on his rotation.”

***

Your update on reliever Craig Hansen will have to wait a bit longer. I’ve been told we’ll be getting work on his latest rounds of test results later this evening. Hansen supposedly had tests done earlier this week as well, but the results of those have not yet been released either.

That said, I’m not sure the prognosis is great. Doctors have had a hard time identifying why Hansen is being bothered by neck/back spasms.

***

And some other odds and ends…

  • Former Pirates manager Jim Tracy is back managing again. The Rockies fired manager Clint Hurdle earlier today and promoted Tracy, who was the Rockies’ bench coach, to the managerial helm.
  • Righty Ian Snell threw a side session off the mound at PNC Park to work specifically on his delivery out of the stretch and at throwing inside to lefties. The side session was more intense than a normal in-between starts one is.
  • The Pirates have traded Double-A infielder Anderson Machado to the Cubs for a player to be named later or cash considerations. Machado was with the Major League team during Spring Training, but was with the organization solely to provide some Minor League depth.
  • The Pirates have signed RHP Scott Nestor as a Minor League free agent. Nestor has been assigned to Double-A Altoona. Nestor was most recently in the Phillies organization.

***

Pirates lineup:

  1. Nyjer Morgan (LF)
  2. Freddy Sanchez (2B)
  3. Nate McLouth (CF)
  4. Adam LaRoche (1B)
  5. Brandon Moss (RF)
  6. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  7. Jason Jaramillo (C)
  8. Jack Wilson (SS)
  9. Ross Ohlendorf (RHP)

Astros lineup:

  1. Michael Bourn (CF)
  2. Miguel Tejada (SS)
  3. Lance Berkman (1B)
  4. Carlos Lee (LF)
  5. Hunter Pence (RF)
  6. Ivan Rodriguez (C)
  7. Jeff Keppinger (3B)
  8. Edwin Maysonet (2B)
  9. Brian Moehler (RHP)

 

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