Results tagged ‘ Virgil Vasquez ’

Pirates cut seven more, including Lincoln

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The Pirates announced the following roster cuts on Monday morning:

  • RHP Brad Lincoln: optioned to Triple-A
  • LHP Donnie Veal: optioned to Triple-A
  • RHP Bryan Morris: optioned to High-A
  • C Tony Sanchez: reassigned to Minor League camp
  • RHP Jeff Sues: reassigned to Minor League camp
  • LHP Justin Thomas: reassigned to Minor League camp
  • RHP Virgil Vasquez: reassigned to Minor League camp

Both Lincoln and Veal will start in Indianapolis’ rotation. Morris will start for the high-A Bradenton club. Vasquez, Thomas and Sues will compete to make Indianapolis’ team.

There are now 47 active players in Major League camp.

Comments from GM Neal Huntington to come.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Orioles 3, Pirates 2

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Probably the most noteworthy item of the evening (in my humble opinion, at least) was Daniel McCutchen’s two-inning outing. He sure looked sharp, especially in comparing this appearance with his one last week. Now it will be interesting to see how Kevin Hart follows McCutchen’s showing on Thursday in his start.

I’m not going to go into much about McCutchen here, though, as you can read more about him — and the sudden resurrection of his slider — on the main site shortly.

***

Fellow starting pitcher Zach Duke had a weird first inning. Duke made Felix Pie and Cesar Izturis look bad as the lefty struck both out to start the game. All of a sudden, though, Duke lost his rhythm with his delivery and started speeding things up too much. The result? Six straight Orioles reached base (two walks, one triple, three singles). By the time Duke got the final out of the inning, he was trailing by three.

“My first two hitters I felt great,” Duke said afterward. “I was executing pitches really well. Then I just got a little fast. I was a little overexcited with how good I felt.”

After that, though, he sailed. He had a 1-2-3 second before his day ended after he issued a two-out walk in the third. Duke is still having some issues with his sinker — which is actually going too low — but there’s no reason for concern with more than three weeks left before the season starts. It’s a pitch that gets better with feel, and it’s still early.

“The more you throw it the better it gets,” Duke said. “I need a little more wear and tear on the arm.”

As for everything else?

“My stuff is good,” he said. “My breaking pitches are where they need to be and have good action on them. I was happy with the curveball tonight. I threw two good changeups.”

***

Quietly, the Pirates’ group of relievers are collectively having a pretty darn good spring. There have obviously been a few exceptions (most notably Virgil Vasquez and Brian Burres). But overall, the Pirates have what looks to be a fairly impressive bullpen competition shaping up.

Vinnie Chulk made a second straight scoreless appearance on Wednesday and has seven strikeouts in his last three innings. Javier Lopez hasn’t allowed a run in his three innings. Jack Taschner, D.J. Carrasco, Brian Bass and Justin Thomas have not given up a run this spring either.

“It make it interesting,” manager John Russell said of the strong relief performances. “They’re doing a good job. It gives us some interesting options to look at. These guys are doing a nice job.”

Though Brendan Donnelly isn’t competing for a bullpen spot (he’s already in), it’s worth noting that he has pitched two perfect innings this spring. Four of the six outs he has recorded have come via a strikeout.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Yankees 6, Pirates 0

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

This one lacked serious excitement so we’re going to keep this post-game blog short. I mean, only so much can be said on a day when the Pirates collected one hit all afternoon.

***

Paul Maholm tossed two innings and allowed two runs on three hits and two walks. It didn’t look as bad as the line score might suggest, though. Two of the singles scooted just past Maholm and up the middle. The other was to shortstop Bobby Crosby, who probably could have gotten a forceout at third if he had reacted a little quicker.

Alex Rodriguez’s two-run single (the second of the two hits up the middle) came after Maholm sure looked like he had Rodriguez struck out. Maholm didn’t get a couple close calls, Rodriguez worked the count full and then he got the hit.

“I didn’t do myself any favors by falling behind almost every guy that came up there in the first,” Maholm said. “I made some decent pitches and the balls that were hit were just grounders up the middle. But I went back out and found my rhythm a little bit better and had a quicker inning.

“They put together good at-bats no matter what part of the season. It’s good to have an inning where you have to battle and work on things and use all your pitches.”

Maholm bounced back to pitch a scoreless second.

Interestingly enough, Maholm’s first two outings have come against the Yankees, and his next two will be against the Red Sox. One day, he’ll get out of the American League East.

***

It was not a great day for Virgil Vasquez, who you might remember gave up a three-run blast against the Yankees last week. He gave up another two runs on four hits in this one. Vasquez almost certainly will start the year in the Triple-A rotation.

***

With half the team down in Port Charlotte, a handful of Minor League players got a chance to see action on Monday. That included Daniel Moskos – the Pirates’ first-round Draft pick in 2007 — who pitched the ninth. He allowed three hits and one run.

You might remember that he was a participant in big league camp back in 2008 (a result of being a first-round pick). However, Moskos has not been in Major League camp in the two years since.

***

Two things to note about Tuesday…

  1. Octavio Dotel is scheduled to throw off the mound for the first time since Feb. 21. He has been throwing long toss for a week now.
  2. I’ll be spending the day somewhere beside the ballpark. Days off are coveted down here, so you won’t be seeing any blogging from me until I’m back on the scene on Wednesday.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Yankees 6, Pirates 3

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Virgil Vasquez hung a pitch to minor leaguer Colin Curtis with two on and one out in the ninth on Wednesday and that’s how this one ended. When Curtis made contact, there was never any question that it would clear the right-field fence. Three runs scored on the walk-off blast.

***

On a positive pitching note, things couldn’t have started off much better for Paul Maholm and Ross Ohlendorf. Both retired the side in order in their one inning of work. Maholm won the battle of efficiency, though, with nine of his 11 pitches for strikes. Ohlendorf needed 12 pitches — including one nasty, low, called third strike to Alex Rodriguez. Seven were strikes.

“I challenged [Ohlendorf],” Maholm joked when their outings were completed. “I told him I had 11 pitches. He threw 12. So I’m one ahead of him right now.”

Neither pitcher had much time to get comfortable on the rubber either. Maholm’s first opponent was Derek Jeter. And Ohlendorf drew Rodriguez as his first batter of the spring. So much for warming up against a Triple-A squad.

“It’s always interesting to see Alex Rodriguez as the first hitter you face,” Ohlendorf said. “Of course, it’s his first time out, too. It was a lot of fun to get out there. I was a little bit overexcited, but not too bad.”

Both pitchers were limited to one inning to simulate what would have been their normal day for a side session. Expect both to throw two innings next time out and then start building up from there.

***

Ohlendorf didn’t throw a single changeup on Wednesday, but expect that to change his next time out. The right-hander really wants to perfect the pitch as the spring progresses, but he particularly wants to throw it to left-handed hitters. As luck would have it, Ohlendorf faced three right-handed batters in this one.

Left-handed hitters batted .286 against Ohlendorf last year as compared to the .221 mark posted by right-handed hitters. He hopes the addition of an improved changeup can limit the success left-handed hitters have against him this season.

The fact that Ohlendorf is not out competing for a rotation spot like last year gives him a better platform to really focus on this pitch without worrying about results.

“I feel a lot better right now just because I feel a lot more confident in my ability,” Ohlendorf said. “I feel like I know more what it takes to get guys out than last year. So I feel better for that reason. The main thing is that I may try and work on things a little bit more.”

***

The Jeff Clement experiment moved from the practice field at Pirate City to George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa on Wednesday. And he fared just fine. Clement made a nice play in the first on a chopper his way and made it through four innings without any noticeable issues.

“He did fine,” manager John Russell said of Clement’s defense. “He was in the right position. He didn’t stiffen up or panic. The biggest thing is being in the right position and knowing the fundamentals of what he’s doing. He looked fine.”

Clement continues to put in early work in the field daily.

***

After going 2-for-2 with a solo homer and RBI single in Tuesday’s exhibition game against the Manatees, catcher Erik Kratz split the left-center field gap with a line-drive, two-run double in the Pirates’ three-run seventh inning. That was his only at-bat of the game.

“Right now you’re just trying to look for a pitch to hit,” Kratz said after Wednesday’s hit. “I’m looking for something in the zone and the last two days I’ve gotten pitches that were in the middle and I was able to take a good swing at. I wasn’t trying to do too much with them, and I got more out of them than I was looking for. I was just trying to hit a line drive.”

Kratz is back with Pittsburgh as a non-roster player and is coming off the best season he’s had professionally. Kratz hit .273 with 41 extra-base hits and 43 RBIs in 93 games with Triple-A Indianapolis last year.

“He has picked up where he left off last year,” Russell said. “He put himself on the map with a very solid Triple-A season and he’s doing a good job here. He’s a threat at the plate. He’s catching the ball well. He’s another nice addition with our catching corps.”

***

Because your Pittsburgh media contingent was up in Tampa today, we didn’t get to see Joel Hanrahan get back into action. However, we were told this afternoon that he did throw on flat ground Wednesday (45 feet) and that all went well.

I’ll keep you updated on what his progression will be as we learn more.

***

Up next: It’s a two-hour drive to Orlando for the troops on Thursday, the first of two that we have to the land of Disney in the next nine days. Charlie Morton will get the two-inning start for Pittsburgh and is scheduled to be followed by Brian Burress and Brad Lincoln, among others.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Day 12: Daily Squeeze

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

final day at Pirate City.jpgWe’re moving on to bigger and better things, folks. Like real games. OK, maybe it’s unfair to call them real games since they don’t count. But at least there is something to start evaluating. Today was the last day of workouts at Pirate City (sad times) as everything moves over to McKechnie Field from now through April 1.

The transition was evident, too. As the 66 guys in Major League camp were packing up the clubhouse, all sorts of Minor League players begin filing in. Early camp for Minor Leaguers began on Monday and about 75 players showed up. Pitchers and catchers are required to report by March 5, though farm director Kyle Stark said that just about everyone will be at Pirate City by then.

Here’s your last workout daily squeeze until 2011…

  • Short workout days are always good and Monday was one more of those. Live batting practice has ended, so most pitchers finished their PFPs and were done. A group of nine — Ross Ohlendorf, Jeff Karstens, Steven Jackson, Brad Lincoln, Virgil Vasquez, Paul Maholm, D.J. Carrasco, Jack Taschner and Chris Jakubauskas – threw a 25-40 pitch side session.
  • Position players had another session of defensive drills and all took batting practice. The day ended with some practice sliding, though the absence of Nyjer Morgan made that a bit less entertaining than usual. Some observations from watching the infielders. …
  • Andy LaRoche and Neil Walker sure can hold their own defensively. You would never know Walker wasn’t always a third baseman. …
  • Jeff Clement looks just fine most of the time, but then there are moments where you see that he has much more work to do to get comfortable at first. I think that’s one of the biggest obstacles — feeling comfortable there. How he looks defensively during games will be very telling. … 
  • Though he continues to wear a knee brace, Aki Iwamura does not seem hampered by his surgically repaired left knee. He’ll be monitored as Grapefruit League play begins, but GM Neal Huntington said Iwamura will not be limited.
  • Infielder Ramon Vazquez also looks just fine running around fielding groundballs even after being minimally limited when camp opened. Manager John Russell said he might limit Vazquez’s playing time for the first few games, but that’s all.
  • I saw four rehabbing Pirates — Jose Ascanio, Tyler Yates, Neal Cotts and Jimmy Barthmaier – throwing long toss today. All continue to slowly progress.
  • For any of you who watched the USA-Canada hockey game and heard broadcaster Doc Emrick mention the Pirates gathering for a hockey watch party in Bradenton yesterday, it wasn’t true. Not sure where that false fact originated, but there was no such event. Now, plenty of players did watch the game on their own, though.
  • Atlanta announced that it will start Kenshin Kawakami against the Pirates on Thursday. The Orioles will start Chris Tillman under the lights on Friday. The Yankees had already tapped Chad Gaudin as Wednesday’s starter.
  • For those of you who enjoy the Jumbotron content at PNC Park, you may enjoy checking out this video. It goes behind the scenes to see how all of that is filmed during Spring Training. You’ll also get a sneak peek into what is in store for 2010.

UP NEXT: The Pirates open up against the State College of Florida on Tuesday with a seven-inning exhibition game. It doesn’t look like the weather is going to cooperate, though, so the Pirates might never get the chance to avenge last year’s loss. If there is a game, the following pitchers are scheduled to throw for an inning: Bryan Morris, Donnie Veal, Ronald Uviedo, Justin Thomas, Ramon Aguero, Jeff Sues and Anthony Claggett.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Bucs lay out pitching plans

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The Pirates have announced their pitching plans for the first week of exhbition games, which begins with a contest against the Manatees of the State College of Florida (formerly known as Manatee Community College) on Tuesday. That is, if it doesn’t rain. Anyways, here’s a look at Tuesday’s pitching plan as well as some of the pitchers lined up through Saturday. In parenthesis, you’ll find how many innings/pitches someone is limited to:

  • Tuesday vs SCF (7 innings): Bryan Morris (1), Donnie Veal (1), Ronald Uviedo (1), Justin Thomas (1), Ramon Aguero (1), Jeff Sues (1), Anthony Claggett (1)
  • Wednesday @ NYY: Paul Maholm (1), Ross Ohlendorf (1); (Brian Bass, D.J. Carrasco, Chris Jakubauskas, Steven Jackson, Jack Taschner and Jean Machi will be available as possible relievers)
  • Thursday @ ATL: Charlie Morton (2/45), Brian Burres (2/45), Brad Lincoln (1)
  • Friday @ BAL: Zach Duke (2/45), Daniel McCutchen (2/45), Virgil Vasquez (1)
  • Saturday vs. PHI: Kevin Hart (2/45), D.J. Carrasco (2/40)

A few notes regarding all this pitching stuff…

  • Manager John Russell downplayed the significance of the order of pitchers. In other words, he said, don’t assume that since Maholm and Ohlendorf are pitching in the first Grapefruit League game that one of them will be the Opening Day starter.
  • Carrasco and Burres are evidently going to be the long-relief candidates, which is why they’ll get some longer work than other relievers early.
  • Don’t read anything into the fact that Maholm and Ohlendorf are only pitching one inning apiece on Wednesday. Russell said it’s being treated just as if they’re getting another side session. They’ll move to a two-inning outing in their second appearance.
  • The Yankees are scheduled to start Chad Gaudin on Wednesday. The Phillies are scheduled to start Joe Blanton on Saturday. Still no word from the Braves or Phillies about who will take the mound on Thursday and Friday, respectively.
  • No, Billy Crystal is not coming to bat against Maholm on Wednesday.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Non-roster invitations

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Before I head out of town for my last short vacation before another baseball season consumes the next eight months of life, I wanted to give you an updated list of the non-roster players that the Pirates have invited to Spring Training:

Pitchers (14)

  • Jimmy Barthmaier (RHP)
  • Brian Bass (RHP)
  • Brian Burres (LHP)
  • Vinnie Chulk (RHP)
  • Neal Cotts (LHP)
  • Craig Hansen (RHP)
  • Jeff Karstens (RHP)
  • Wil Ledezma (LHP)
  • Jean Machi (RHP)
  • Jeremy Powell (RHP)
  • Jack Taschner (LHP)
  • Justin Thomas (LHP)
  • Virgil Vasquez (RHP)
  • Tyler Yates (RHP)

Catchers (3)

  • Luke Carlin
  • Erik Kratz
  • Tony Sanchez

Infielders (0)

Outfielders (2)

  • Brian Myrow
  • Jonathan Van Every

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Pirates sign Yates, Burres, Cotts

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

UPDATE 10:20 pm: Here are your contract details:

  • Yates: $975,000 Major League salary with incentives worth another $325,000
  • Cotts: $900,000 Major League salary with incentives worth another $350,000
  • Burres: $550,000 Major League salary with clause that he can leave and sign with Asian team if not on Opening Day roster

The Pirates have agreed to terms on Minor League deals with right-hander Tyler Yates, left-hander Neal Cotts and left-hander Brian Burres. Each player will be a non-roster invitee to Spring Training, though Yates and Cotts will not be ready to pitch at the start of the season because each underwent Tommy John surgery last July.

The updated list of non-roster invitees to Spring Training now includes these three pitchers plus: RHP Jimmy Barthmaier, RHP Vinnie Chulk, RHP Craig Hansen, RHP Jeff Karstens, LHP Wil Ledezma, RHP Jean Machi, RHP Jeremy Powell, LHP Jack Taschner, LHP Justin Thomas, RHP Virgil Vasquez, C Erik Kratz, C Tony Sanchez, OF Jonathan Van Every.

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Vasquez, Hacker, Lerud removed from 40-man roster

By Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The Pirates continue to retool the club’s 40-man roster, with three more players being removed from it on Friday. Right-handers Virgil Vasquez and Eric Hacker were outrighted to Triple-A Indianapolis. Catcher Steve Lerud was sent outright to Double-A Altoona.

With the three subtractions, the Pirates now have 36 players on their 40-man roster. Relievers Evan Meek and Jose Ascanio remain on the 60-day disabled list and will take two of those vacant spots soon. The Pirates have until Nov. 20 to finalize their 40-man roster in advance of the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 10.

None of Friday’s three roster moves comes as much of a surprise. Vasquez and Hacker both spent minimal time on the Major League roster in 2009. Lerud spent all of last season as Altoona’s primary catcher.

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Walker, Vasquez joining Pirates; other Minor League notes

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The Pirates have summoned third baseman Neil Walker and right-hander Virgil Vasquez from Triple-A Indianapolis, wasting no time to add a few extra bodies to the club now that rosters have expanded.

Walker’s first appearance with the Pirates will mark his Major League debut. The Pittsburgh-area native hit .264 with 31 doubles, 14 homers and 69 RBIs in 95 games with Indianapolis this season. He is, however, coming off a fantastic month of August, during which he batted .339 with 14 doubles and four homers. He led the International League with 29 RBIs and 63 total bases.

Walker isn’t expected to get a large number of starts, with Andy LaRoche remaining as the team’s starting third baseman.

Though Vasquez has pitched as a starter all season, he’s not expected to jump into the Pirates’ rotation just yet. He could, though, be called on to spot start later in the month when the Pirates begin limiting the innings for Ross Ohlendorf and Kevin Hart. Right now he’ll provide an extra arm out of the bullpen. 

Vasquez made 19 starts for Indianapolis and went 7-4 with a 3.93 ERA. He also made seven starts with the Pirates earlier this year, going 2-5 with a 6.09 ERA.

***

Minor League news and notes:

  • Yoslan Herrera has been promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis to help fill the Indians’ rotation for the final week of the season.
  • The Pirates have acquired lefty Bobby Livingston from Cleveland. Livingston, who has not appeared in the Majors since 2007, split time between Cleveland and Baltimore’s Double-A and Triple-A clubs and combined to go 9-7 with a 4.29 ERA in 26 appearances (24 starts).
  • Lefty Donnie Veal continues his Minor League rehab work with Altoona and will make the start on Tuesday. Veal has pitched nine scoreless rehab innings so far and allowed three hits, one earned run and five walks. He has struck out 11.
  • Rudy Owens was named the South Atlantic League’s Most Outstanding Pitcher on Monday. He went 10-1 with a 1.70 ERA in 19 games with low-A West Virginia. 
  • The Gulf Coast League Pirates wrapped up their season on Monday. The team finished 29-31 and four games behind the GCL North champion Yankees.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB     

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