Manager Clint Hurdle talked before Saturday’s game about how the Pirates are shopping for a catcher but the asking price has been too high. With Ryan Doumit and Chris Snyder both out for an extended time, the Pirates don’t exactly have the upper hand in negotiations.
But Wyatt Toregas showed he’s at least capable of getting the job done in his first start behind the plate for the Pirates tonight, including a play to throw out Jose Reyes trying to steal second in the first inning.
“At the end of the day, Wyatt showed up as big as anybody tonight,” Hurdle said. “He handled the pitches, made a big block in the eighth inning, breaking ball down in the dirt and he’s right in front. Throwing Reyes out in the first had to help his confidence. I gave him one more pat on the butt going out there and said, ‘C’mon, you’re six, playing in the backyard. Go have some fun,’ and that’s what he looked like out there.”
Here’s what closer Joel Hanrahan had to say about Toregas: “He’s worked with some of the guys before, but I don’t even remember throwing to him in spring training. I always heard he was a pretty good receiver back there and he came in and did a heck of a job. If he can keep doing that it will be a good sign for us.”
Signed as a minor-league free agent in December 2010, Toregas came to spring training as a non-roster invitee. He started the 2010 season as a member of Cleveland’s 40-man roster but was designated for assignment on April 3.
Toregas was 0 for 3 at the plate tonight after grounding into a game-ending double-play as a pinch hitter in his Pirates debut on Friday night. Before his call-up to the Pirates, he had played 19 games in the majors and 536 in the minors, where he was a .262 batter.
= The Pirates also got a strong seventh from another newcomer, Tim Wood, who retired all three batters he faced in his debut on Friday, then gave up just one hit tonight.
Here’s the manager’s take on Wood: “The first three batters in the lineup were on base six times in this game so (starter James McDonald) was done. He wasn’t going to face the top of the lineup again, and to throw Wood in there, I felt confident. I like his stuff. He’s down in the zone, he’s got a swing-and-miss slider, did a nice job.”
Wood said before the game that in the offseason, he was between signing with the Pirates and the Washington Nationals. He chose the Nationals, with the promise that he could compete for a job with the team, then was sent to minor league camp earlier than he thought he would be.
At that point Wood thought he’d have a Triple-A job, but when the Nationals told him all they had for him was in Double-A, he asked for and was granted his release, then signed with the Pirates. A long-standing relationship with Pirates assistant pitching coordinator Scott Mitchell, dating back to when they were both with the Florida Marlins, had a lot to do with that.
“At one point it was three teams in five months,” Wood said. “The journey this game can take you on, the ups and downs, but I’m just thankful for the opportunity the Pirates gave me. It’s a good organization; there’s a lot of opportunity here.”