Snyder comes off DL, Jaramillo to Indy

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Catcher Chris Snyder will be back in action for the Pirates starting tomorrow. The team reinstated Snyder from the disabled list following a successful rehab stint with single-A Bradenton after Wednesday’s game and, to make room on the active roster, optioned Jason Jaramillo to Triple-A Indianapolis.

“I knew, obviously, that they had to make a move and they did, so I’m going to go do my job and try to get back here as soon as possible,” Jaramillo said. “It’s tough. I try to come here and do my job and let the chips fall where they may. I’m not in control of those decisions. I feel like I’ve been doing a pretty good job. I’ve been just letting it play out and not worrying about it too much. Now it’s time for me to go and do my job.”

Jaramillo played in four games and was 5 for 14 at the plate (.357). All five hits came as a left-hander (5 for 10).

Snyder had been on the DL with low back tightness, a problem that started in spring training.

• Evan Meek pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning with one strikeout. He’d been unavailable in recent games because of tightness in his shoulder.

• Pittsburgh pitchers have given up a home run in each of the last five games after giving up just one in the first six games of the season.

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Brewers game rained out

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Even after the rainout was announced, a few Pirates went outside for a wet workout.
Even after the rainout was announced, a few Pirates went outside for a wet workout.

Tonight’s game against the Brewers has been postponed due to rain. The makeup date has not yet been announced.

The pitching matchups for the rest of this abbreviated, two-game series: Wednesday: RHP Shaun Marcum (1-1, 4.22) v.s RHP Kevin Correia (2-0, 1.29) . Thursday: LHP Randy Wolf (0-2, 7.20) vs. LHP Paul Maholm (0-1, 2.19).

»»» Right-hander Jeff Karstens will take Ross Ohlendorf’s spot in the rotation, for at least one turn. Karstens likely will start Friday in Cincy.

»»» Catcher Chris Snyder (lower back) caught nine innings Sunday and was the designated hitter Monday in his rehab assignment with High-A Bradenton. He could to ready to come off the disabled list in the next couple of days.

»»» Lefty reliever Joe Beimel (elbow) pitched Monday night (one inning, two strikeouts) and again this afternoon (one inning, one strikeout) in his rehab stint with Triple-A Indianapolis. “We’ll see how he feels (Wednesday), manager Clint Hurdle said.

»»» This afternoon, Indy lost, 4-2, against Toldeo. The Indians are 1-5.”It’s been a tough start so far, but we’ve been there every game,” third baseman Josh Harrison said. “We just got to get those big hits, a couple of breaks here and there but we’ll turn it around. If we come to work like we do every day we’ll turn it around.”

Harrison hit a solo homer, one of just five hits by Indy. “I just got into a good hitters count, 2-0, and was just looking for a good pitch to hit,” Harrison said. “I was able to put a good swing on it.”

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Postgame: McDonald’s U-turn

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After a bleak first inning this afternoon, James McDonald knew who to turn to for advice.

“I had a talk with myself,” McDonald said. “I said, ‘You need to pick it up and keep your team in the game. Slow down. One pitch at a time. They got those runs and that’s all they’re getting.’ I motivated myself.”

It worked. In the first inning, McDonald allowed four runs on three hits, two walks and one hit batter. He was rushing himself and threw a whopping 38 pitches. But the right-hander zipped through the next 5 2/3 innings, allowing one more run on two hits. “He did an outstanding job after the first inning,” manager Clint Hurdle said.

»»» McDonald reached on an infield single with one out in the fourth. Jose Tabata singled, extending his hitting streak to 10 games — the longest active string in the majors.

Rockies righty Jhoulys Chacin then became obsessed with trying to pick off McDonald. Maybe Chacin was honked about giving up a hit to the opposing pitcher.

Whatever the reason, it wound up helping the Pirates. Chacin’s pickoff throw sailed into center field, sending McDonald to third and Tabata to second. Neil Walker rolled a grounder to first base, scoring McDonald to put the Pirates up, 5-4.

After the game, McDonald was mystified as to why Chacin kept up with the pickoff throws. It’s not like McDonald is a threat to steal.

“Maybe they were trying to tire me out,” McDonald said. “You never know, they could’ve caught me sleeping. But I wasn’t going anywhere.”

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Pregame: Three’s a crowd

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Catcher Chris Snyder (lower back pain) is making progress in his rehab assignment with High-A Bradenton, and it should’t be too long before he comes off the disabled list.

When that happens, Jason Jaramillo almost certainly will go back to Triple-A Indianapolis. Manager Clint Hurdle this morning confirmed the team will not carry three catches on the active roster.

Hurdle also said he doesn’t expect to use Ryan Doumit either in right field or at first base. “It wouldn’t be fair to Ryan,” Hurdle said. Doumit was supposed to get some playing time in the outfield during spring training, but was sidelined by a strained oblique. He’s also generally uncomfortable at first base — that experiment was a disaster last season — making that a very remote possibility in the future.

Hurdle indicated the No. 3 catcher in an emergency situation would be either Matt Diaz or Steve Pearce. There do not appear to be any plans for Neil Walker to ever again strap on catcher’s gear.

Lineups for today’s game:

Rockies (5-2) – 1. Dexter Fowler cf, 2. Jonathan Herrera 2b, 3. Jason Giambo 1b, 4. Troy Tulowitzki ss, 5. Seth Smith rf, 6. Jose Lopez 3b, 7. Ty Wigginton lf, 8. Chris Iannetta c, 9. Jhoulys Chacin

Pirates (5-4) – 1. Jose Tabata lf, 2. Neil Walker 2b, 3. Andrew McCutchen, 4. Lyle Overbay 1b, 5. Pedro Alvarez 3b, 6. Ryan Doumit c, 7. Garrett Jones rf, 8. Ronny Cedeno ss, 9. James McDonald

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Postgame: Meek, Ohly status in doubt

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With the status of one starting pitcher and one reliever in doubt, look for the Pirates to make a roster move before Saturday’s game against the Rockies.

Right-hander Ross Ohlendorf left Friday’s game due to shoulder pain after pitching just 2 2/3 innings. Reliever Evan Meek was not available to pitch — even in a game in which both teams cleaned out their bullpens — because his right shoulder got tight this afternoon.

Chris Resop, Garrett Olson and Mike Crotta probably won’t be available Saturday, as they need time to recover after pitching back-to-back games. That leaves Joel Hanrahan, Jose Veras and — possibly — Meek able to go if needed.

Righty Daniel McCutchen, who’s part of the rotation at Triple-A Indy but hasn’t yet pitched, is a candidate for a callup.

»»» As Carlos Gonzalez hit a fly ball to right in the third inning, Ohlendorf immediately walked off the mound and motioned for the trainer. After a brief on-field discussion, Ohlendorf left the game.

“We’re not sure yet what it is,” Ohlendorf said. “We’re going to see how it is the next couple of days.”

Last season, Ohlendorf was scratched from his second start due to back spasms. That led to a stint on the disabled list, from which he did not return until May 10.

Ohlendorf missed the final five weeks of the 2010 season due to tightness behind his right shoulder. He faced just two batters in his final start Aug. 23, and wound up on the 60-day DL.

Despite intensifying his offseason workout routine, Ohlendorf struggled throughout spring training. He started six games — the longest outing just 4 2/3 innings — and had a 9.82 ERA. In 18 1/3 innings, he allowed 34 hits, walked eight and got 14 strikeouts.

He said this latest injury is “similar, but not as bad” as the one he had last year. It’s in the same spot as before.

“I felt it a couple pitches before I came out (of the game),” Ohlendorf said. “I felt some discomfort, so I threw two more pitches and I knew I had to come out.”

Although it was a cold, wet night, Ohlendorf said he had no trouble warming up before the game.

»»» Good golly, what a play in the 10th inning by Pedro Alvarez! With the bases loaded with two outs, Ty Wigginton hit a smash down the line. Alvarez lunged behind the bag to snag the ball and threw across the diamond from one knee to get Wigginton.

“Beautiful. What a great baseball play,” manager Clint Hurdle marveled.

“If I can’t produce at the plate, I want to at least save some runs,” said Alvarez, who went 1 for 4, including two strikeouts. “That’s what happened today. It’s about keeping focus in situations like that.”

»»» According to the stats wonks at Elias, the 11 1/3 innings scoreless innings by the Pirates bullpen was the team’s longest in a game since 1900.

»»» Jose Tabata won it with an RBI double in the 14th inning. Tabata wasn’t sure he got enough of the ball until he saw right fielder Seth Smith hesitate an instant before the ball caromed off the Clemente Wall.

“When he (paused), I was like, Yeah!” Tabata said.

Josh Rodriguez, who’d drawn a two-out walk, scored from first base. He had no doubts about Tabata’s blast. “When he hit it, I thought it would hit off the wall, so I was just booking it,” J-Rod said. “I wanted to make sure they weren’t going to have a play on me, no matter what. I put my head down and took off”

It was Rodriguez’s first career run scored. Tabata is tied for the team lead with 11 hits, and has two RBI.

»»» Chris Resop tossed three innings and faced 13 batters (one batter more than Ohlendorf faced). I jokingly asked Resop if he had another two or three innings in him.

“Believe it or not, I actually felt all right,” Resop replied. “They asked me after two how I felt, and I said I felt fine. This is the first time I went back-to-back. I didn’t do that in spring (training) at all.”

With the bullpen on such a great roll, Resop just wanted to keep it rolling.

“You definitely don’t want to be that guy who messes things up,” he said, grinning. “You go out there, do everything you can and take it one pitch at a time.”

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Pregame: Yates tears tendon

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Reliever Tyler Yates visited Dr. James Andrews (cue ominous music) and was diagnosed with a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow. Yates will be re-examined in six weeks.

Yates, 33, was attempting to come back from Tommy John surgery, which he had on July 14, 2009. He pitched in five spring training games (nine innings) and put up a 12.46 ERA. He’s admitted to mulling retirement after his last operation, and this latest setback might make him consider it again.

»»» More than 2,500 runners are registered for the inauguaral “Pirates 5K Home Run” at 8 a.m. Saturday on the North Shore. A limited number of race-day registrations will be accepted from 6:30 a.m.-7:30 a.m. All entrants get a t-shirt and a ticket to Saturday night’s game against the Rox.

Lineups for tonight’s game:

Rockies (4-1) – 1. Dexter Fowler cf, 2. Jonathan Herrera 2b, 3. Carlos Gonzalez lf, 4. Troy Tulowitzki ss, 5. Todd Helton 1b, 6. Seth Smith rf, 7. Ty Wigginton 3b, 8. Chris Iannetta c, 9. Jorge de la Rosa (1-0, 0.00) lhp

Pirates (4-3) – 1. Jose Tabata lf, 2. Neil Walker 2b, 3. Andrew McCutchen, 4. Lyle Overbay 1b, 5. Matt Diaz rf, 6. Pedro Alvarez 3b, 7. Jason Jaramillo c, 8. Ronny Cedeno ss, 9. Ross Ohlendorf (0-0, 6.00) rhp

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Postgame: Rogers untouchable

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There was an ice sculpture outside the door to the Pirates' clubhouse this morning.
There was an ice sculpture outside the door to the Pirates' clubhouse this morning.

As bad as the Pirates’ offense was this afternoon, it could have been worse. If not for a slow-healing cut on his thumb, Ubaldo Jimenez, who finished third in Cy Young voting last year, would have pitched today for the Rockies instead of 25-year-old righty Esmil Rogers.

Then again, Rogers had more than enough to suffocate the Bucs in a 7-1 Rox victory. Making only his 10th career start (30th outing), the right-hander pitched 7 1/3 innings and racked up seven strikeouts, both career highs. Rogers allowed one run on four singles.

“He located pretty well,” said Pirates right fielder Garrett Jones, who went 0 for 2 with a walk. “He kept his slider down. We hit some balls good, but right at guys.”

Neil Walker, who went 1 for 3, offered this take on Rogers:

“A lot of us were up there looking for certain pitches. When he’s throwing 93, 94, 95 (mph) on the inner half for strikes to righties and lefties, your eyes light up when you see balls over the plate then, when you go to swing at 94, 95, it’s tough to barrel it up. I think we’ll be more prepared next time we face him.”

Rogers was no stranger to many of the Pirates. As a rookie last season, Rogers notched his second career win Aug. 8 against the Pirates.

“We knew he had a live arm,” Walker said. “We knew he had good offspeed. We knew that if he threw strikes with his offspeed that we were going to have to battle and zone him up. We tried to do that in the middle innings. We got aggressive, probably more aggressive than we could have been –- myself included –- and we didn’t barrel him up.”

»»» Walker took full blame for the two-base throwing error in the first inning that led to a 2-0 Rockies lead: “I just blew it. Just a terrible play. Just bad. I just didn’t make the play. I hurried it. That’s it.”

»»» Conversely, Rox third baseman Ty Wigginton made a defensive sparkler in the bottom of the inning that might have saved the game. With runners at the corners and none out, Andrew McCutchen hit a screamer down the third base line. Wigginton snagged it and fired across just in time to get McCutchen. Jose Tabata scored, but the Pirates never again threatened.

“It was a good defensive play,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “If that ball gets by him, we might be able to do some things in that inning.”

»»» Here’s a leftover note from Wednesday’s game against the Cards. Evan Meek tossed a 1-2-3 inning, which was a solid turnabout from his two rough relief outings to start the season: “(I wanted the ball) really badly, actually,” Meek said. “It was one of those things where I knew I wasn’t far off. You don’t want to sit on it, you don’t want to wait, and that’s one of the good things about being a reliever is you get thrown back out there. I love that (manager Clint Hurdle) put me back out there with a two-run lead, I love that he has the confidence in me and that was big for me. Now I can build off that, take that into my next outing and just get on with it.”

»»» No surprise here: Former Reds reliever said Rob Dibble said that when Barry Bonds played for the Pirates, some of Bonds’ teammates tried to bribe Dibble to hit Bonds with a pitch.

»»» The State College Spikes will hold auditions for national anthem singers at 11 a.m. Saturday at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

»»» Rule 5 pickup Josh Rodriguez is living in a hotel for a day or two until his apartment is ready. I asked if he’s ready to find his way around Pittsburgh. “My car comes equipped with (a GPS unit), so I should be all right,” he said.

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Pregame: Home opener 2011

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PNC opener

Happy home opener to ya.

The most important factor behind the Pirates’ encouraging 4-2 start this season is pitching — specifically, the starting pitching. After one-plus turn through the rotation, the starters are 3-0 with a sparkling 2.23 ERA. However, manager Clint Hurdle balked at saying the staff has so far exceeded his expectations.

“I didn’t set any coming in,” Hurdle said. “I usually leave that up to other people. Our guys have thrown strike one, more often that not, they’ve kept the ball down in the zone and changed speeds effectively. They’ve been aggressive and thrown with conviction. They’ve gotten us to a good place in every game. Our starting pitching has showed up pretty well every day.”

»»» Hurdle downplayed the significance of facing the Rockies, his old club, in the home opener. The Rox are managed by former Pirates skipper Jim Tracy.

“It’s dripping with irony and it’s great for you (media),” Hurdle said. “Outside of that, it’s not that big of a deal. I was able to help much more with the advance scouting meeting than with the first two teams we played. I am proud to have spent time in the Colorado Rockies organization. I was humbled by that opportunity. It’s behind me. They have a good man in charge, they have a good ballclub and they have a good organization. I made a lot of lasting relationships there. Outside of that, they want to put the wood to us and we want to put the wood to them.”

Lineups for this afternoon’s home opener:

Rockies (3-1) – 1. Dexter Fowler cf, 2. Ryan Spilborghs rf, 3. Carlos Gonzalez lf, 4. Troy Tulowitzki ss, 5. Lopez 2b, 6. Todd Helton 1b, 7. Ty Wigginton 3b, 8. Chris Iannetta c, 9. Esmil Rogers (2011 debut), rhp

Pirates (4-2) – 1. Jose Tabata lf, 2. Neil Walker 2b, 3. Andrew McCutchen, 4. Lyle Overbay 1b, 5. Pedro Alvarez 3b, 6. Ryan Doumit c, 7. Garrett Jones rf, 8. Ronny Cedeno ss, 9. Paul Maholm (0-0, 0.00), lhp

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Post-game: Wrapping up the Cards series win

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Just got back home, wanted to post a few last things heading into tomorrow…

Reliever Evan Meek called today’s 1-2-3 eighth inning against the Cardinals a “good step forward in the right direction.” Meek said on Tuesday that it was way too early to panic and that he was doing his best to not let the negativity creep in after two bad outings, one that cost them the game on Saturday and then one that nearly did on Monday.

He also said that he wanted the ball back in his hands as soon as possible.

“(I wanted the ball) really badly, actually,” Meek said. “It was one of those things where I knew I wasn’t far off. You don’t want to sit on it, you don’t want to wait, and that’s one of the good things about being a reliever is you get thrown back out there. I love that (manager Clint Hurdle) put me back out there with a two-run lead, I love that he has the confidence in me and that was big for me. Now I can build off that, take that into my next outing and just get on with it.”

= Josh Rodriguez became a part of someone else’s milestone in his first-ever major league start on Wednesday playing shortstop. Rodriguez became Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter’s 1,500th career strikeout in the second inning.

= Jose Tabata extended his season-opening hitting streak to six games. He was tied with San Francisco’s Buster Posey and Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun entering the game.

= The Pirates got the win Wednesday despite leaving a lot of men on base – 11, to be exact. That’s the most this season, with the 10 left on at Chicago on Opening Day a close second.

= The last time the Cardinals scored three runs or fewer in their first six games of the season was in 1919, when they scored three or fewer in eight straight games, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

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Pre-game, series finale vs. Cards

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First, a little left over from last night.

One of the things Clint Hurdle focused on during spring training was hitters being aggressive in the count early, and he felt like that did not happen against the Cardinals on Tuesday. Of the 27 outs, 11 were strikeouts and seven were fly-outs, which Hurdle counts up as soft outs.

“The guys are aware of it,” he said. “We just have to do a better job with two strikes. I think some of our problem is we’re still not aggressive enough in the count early. Take a lot of pitches getting two strikes.”

As far as getting frustrated that that particular message may not be sinking in the same way that, say, being aggressive on the basepaths is, Hurdle said there’s no frustration. You just keep coaching.

“You keep coaching and there might be a time when you have to pull a guy out to help him with his focus if he’s not getting it done,” Hurdle said. “But you keep coaching, you keep showing them the numbers, show them the tape of what have you, and they have to take ownership of it.”

 With that said, Josh Rodriguez will make his first major league start at shortstop today. His family, however, probably won’t get to watch the game. His father won a trip to the Bahamas a month and a half ago, making it perhaps the one and only time that they would not want to be on an island vacation.

 Lineups:
For the Pirates (3-2)
Jose Tabata lf, Neil Walker 2b, Andrew McCutchen cf, Lyle Overbay 1b, Pedro Alvarez 3b, Ryan Doumit c, Garrett Jones rf, Josh Rodriguez ss, Kevin Correia RHP.
For the Cardinals (2-3):
Ryan Theriot ss, Colby Rasmus cf, Albert Pujols 1b, Lance Berkman rf, Allen Craig lf, Skip Schumaker 2b, Yadier Molina c, Daniel Descalso 3b, Chris Carpenter RHP.
=
 And finally, here’s a medical update from the Pirates:
Jose Ascanio pitched one inning in an intrasquad game, Joe Beimel pitched one inning in an intrasquad game, Brad Lincoln pitched three innings, Scott Olsen threw a bullpen, Chris Snyder caught five innings and had three at bats in an intrasquad game. All on Tuesday, all without issue.

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