MINNEAPOLIS The changeup is highly valued by Pirates management, a point of emphasis from the front office at PNC Park to the lowest level of the minors. People in the industry also recognized how important the pitch is to a pitcher’s development and success.
But, let’s face it, the change isn’t the sexiest weapon in baseball. Chicks dig the fastball. The change often is overlooked by most folks sitting in the stands.
“It got lost somewhere,” manager John Russell said. “When I played, it was one of the pitches that we really liked to go to. I don’t know when it started, but years ago, velocity started being a big thing guys who threw hard. But as far as pitching coaches, managers and catchers, the changeup’s always been a very big weapon. I just don’t think it was talked about as much. But it’s always been a big pitch in the game.”
• GM Neal Huntington said Little League pitchers should throw the changeup before they even think about throwing the curveball or slider. “It doesn’t put stress on the elbow and younger hitters can’t recognize it,” Huntington said.
Zach Duke doesn’t dispute the health aspect of throwing the change. But he doesn’t believe it’s a super-effective pitch for kids. “In high school and when you’re younger, if you throw a little harder the changeup is not really a pitch that you need. It matches the hitters’ bat speed at that age,” Duke said. “But as hitters get a little older and stronger with faster bats, the changeup becomes a very important pitch. It’s the pitch that looks like the fastball the longest and allows for that soft contact.”
• Reliever Tyler Yates (elbow) is at the Pirates’ facility in Bradenton, Fla., but he’s shut down for a couple more weeks, according to Russell.
• Last night, Andrew McCutchen doubled and singled, notching his fifth multi-hit game. It was his 12th game since being called up from Triple-A.
• Want more useless stats? The Pirates are 66-107 in interleague play. The Twins improved to 126-91 against NL clubs. … The Pirates are 1-28 when being out-hit. They are 6-14 when their starter doesn’t go at least six innings.
• Right fielder Jose Tabata, who missed four games due to leg cramps, last night went 2 for 4 with an RBI and two runs scored for Double-A Altoona. Center fielder Gorkys Hernandez went 2 for 5, including a double, with one RBI and two runs. According to Huntington, Hernandez will get the bulk of the playing time in center, though Tabata will play there as well. Left fielder Jonel Pacheco leads Altoona with six homers, 30 RBI and 57 hits.
• Lineups for tonight’s game:
PIRATES 1.Andrew McCutchen cf, 2. Nyjer Morgan lf, 3. Freddy Sanchez 2b, 4. Adam LaRoche 1b, 5. Delwyn Young rf, 6. Eric Hinske dh, 7. Andy LaRoche 3b, 8. Robinzon Diaz c, 9. Jack Wilson ss. Ian Snell (1-7, 5.25) rhp
TWINS 1. Brendan Harris ss, 2. Joe Mauer c, 3. Justin Morneau 1b, 4. Jason Kubel dh, 5. Joe Crede 3b, 6. Michael Cuddyer rf, 7. Delmon Young lf, 8. Carlos Gomez cf, 9. Nick Punto 2b. Francisco Liriano (2-7, 5.99) lhp