Results tagged ‘ Xavier Paul ’
One month of the 2011 baseball season is in the books, and I would be curious to hear your assessment of the first 27 games. A few things stand out to me, thus far…
- I can’t say I necessarily expected the pitching to be carrying the offense. Coming into the year, the Pirates appeared to have a competitive lineup (particularly spots 1-6), but to this point that lineup has produced a .230 batting average and plated just 91 runs (ranking 15th of 16 NL teams). The pitching, on the other hand, is much improved over last year.
- The degree of success of the Pirates’ bullpen has been a bit surprising, too. Joel Hanrahan has thrived in the closer’s role, though that wasn’t all that unexpected. Evan Meek didn’t have the month most thought he would as the primary set-up man, but the rest of the ‘pen has been terrific. The club finished the month with the lowest bullpen ERA (2.19) in the Majors.
- Who thought Pedro Alvarez’s defense would be more impressive than his offense to this point? Yes, Alvarez has made some errors. But he’s also made some stellar defensive plays. And there has been much more of the latter than the former. However, at the plate, it has been a struggle since day one. Alvarez has just one homer, and he hit .200 in the month with 31 strikeouts in 90 at-bats. He has driven in seven, though two of those runs scored on an infield hit in the season’s opening weekend.
- Strikeouts, in general, have really plagued this team. Four players — Alvarez, Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker and Jose Tabata — already have at least 23 apiece. Only the Padres have struck out more than the Pirates.
- I thought this could be a breakout year for McCutchen, and it still can be. But to this point, the center fielder has produced well below his career numbers. The last two games have been a step in the right direction, but the dynamic outfielder has just not been consistent. And that’s particularly unusual for him.
- On a positive note, the starts from Charlie Morton and Kevin Correia have been especially encouraging. Correia came into the year intent on proving he was better than he pitched in 2010. For Morton, this is a year of both renaissance and redemption. The Pirates couldn’t have asked much more of either starter in April.
As the team prepares for a fresh month, here are some news and notes before the Pirates’ series finale against the Rockies:
- Jose Tabata (tightness in right hamstring) is, as expected, not in the lineup. He said that manager Clint Hurdle told him he will also sit out on Monday. That said, Tabata said he is feeling about 95 percent. He was riding a stationary bike for a while this morning and was walking without any apparent issue.
- Right-hander Ross Ohlendorf is slated to throw live batting practice on Tuesday. He expects to throw another BP session after that and will then head out on a Minor League rehab assignment.
- So far, the Pirates have been avoiding the lengthy losing streaks that have been an issue in recent years. But they’re also not enjoying any winning streaks either. The Pirates have not won consecutive games since April 17-19 in Cincinnati. They lost the next three games and then have alternated wins and losses ever since.
- So how did April 2011 compare to April 2010? The Pirates just finished a 12-15 April. Last year’s club went 10-13 in the first month of the season. The club’s longest winning streak in April was two games; that happened twice.
- If the Pirates can win on Sunday, the club will notch its fourth road series win of the season. That would match last year’s total.
- The Rockies have held the Pirates to a .197 batting average in six games so far this year.
- Outfielder Alex Presley was named Triple-A Indianapolis’ Player of the Month for April. Presley finished the month 30-for-90 with 13 runs scored, five stolen bases and eight extra-base hits. He reached base safely in 20 of the 24 games he played.
- Xavier Paul is making his third start of the season, though it’s his first since joining the Pirates.
PIRATES: A. McCutchen (CF), X. Paul (LF), G. Jones (RF), N. Walker (2B), L. Overbay (1B), R. Doumit (C), P. Alvarez (3B), R. Cedeno (SS), C. Morton (RHP)
ROCKIES: D. Fowler (CF), A. Amezaga (2B), T. Helton (1B), T. Tulowitzki (SS), C. Gonzalez (LF), S. Smith (RF), J. Lopez (3B), C. Iannetta (C), U. Jimenez (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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