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Sanchez guns ‘em down

Tony Sanchez couldn't stop Michael Martinez from scoring in the eighth inning, but he did gun down two would-be base-stealers. (AP photo)

Tony Sanchez couldn't stop Michael Martinez from scoring in the eighth inning, but he did gun down two would-be base-stealers. (AP photo)

BRADENTON, Fla. — Catcher Tony Sanchez went 2 for 2 today throwing out runners trying to steal second base. He nabbed Kevin Frandsen in the eighth inning and Tyson Gillies in the ninth. Although the throws escaped the attention of the big part of the sellout crowd that bolted for the gates late in the game, they did not go unnoticed by manager Clint Hurdle.

“To me, (what was worth) the price of admission today (were) the two throws by Tony Sanchez,” Hurdle said. “You’re not going to see many catchers unload quicker and more accurate than that, with that kind of velocity. They were both 1.85 (seconds) release time. He’s had a better, more comfortable spring. He’s receiving the ball well. He gets down to his knees to block (a ball) as quick as anyone I’ve ever had. He’s fun to watch. He found his comfort zone today.”

»»» Starling Marte’s batting average “slumped” to .563 after he went 0 for 2 today. So much for feasting on fastballs. Marte is being fed a lot more spinners and offspeed junk than he was at the start of spring training. “Word gets around,” Hurdle said.

»»» Righty Charlie Morton put a pair of runners on base in each of the two innings he pitched, yet did not allow a run. “I got in some situations I didn’t want to be in, which I think is a good thing,” Morton said. “I was able to get out of them. That’s the kind of thing I like to have happen, especially in the first few (spring games). Now I can start zeroing in on what I want to work on and things that I did well, things that I didn’t do well and all that good stuff. I’ve been asked, ‘What’s working for you? What feels good?’ I’m just like, ‘I don’t know.’ I can’t tell you till I get in a situation like that.”

»»» Including the two frames today by Morton, Pirates starting pitchers have strung together 10 scoreless innings over the past four games. They’ve yielded just one earned run in their past 19 2/3 innings.

»»» Phillies starter Vance Worley was unhittable. He racked up eight strikeouts in four innings and none of the four batters who made contact hit the ball out of the infield. “It’s too early to strike out a bunch of guys,” Worley said. “I’d rather get contact, because that helps you get deeper into games. Today, I happened to get a lot of swings and misses and some takes in there, too. If they’re going to give them to me, I’ll take them.”

»»» Catcher Michael McKenry got six RBI — including a three-run triple and a two-run homer — in the 8-2 scrimmage win against the Netherlands. “It was a great day,” McKenry said. “But more importantly, (pitchers Jeff) Karstens and (Daniel) McCutchen were really good. We played really good baseball today.” Karstens tossed four scoreless innings, allowed give hits and struck out four. McCutchen gave up a hit and a run in two innings’ work. However, because it wasn’t a Grapefruit League game, none of that counts toward the official spring training stats.

»»» Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus ranked the Pirates’ farm system No. 8 overall this year. He likes all the high-end pitching talent, but said the system still lacks overall depth. His top three are the Padres, Blue Jays and Cardinals.



  1. Ryan(Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    Farm system moving up, hard to complain about #8 spot. Pitching is great in the system, wish there were some power threats coming up.

    McKenry always seems like a class act. Giving credit to his pitchers instead of looking at himself.

  2. Chuck H. says:

    Looks like the same old Pirates who are going to have losing season #19.

  3. Harry says:

    Can we play the Netherlands more often?

  4. Dejan Shortpants says:

    Pitching is great in the system? Cole and Taillon are the only keepers, and a lot of so-called experts say Cole is overrated.

  5. Jim EastTn says:

    I agree–pitching does look good. I am sure this is a minority opinion, but I see the minor leaguers making it difficult to keep Walker past 2014. Pirates 4th place this year (76 wins)

  6. John Lease says:

    Chuck they already had #19 last year. This will be #20. Get your facts straight!

  7. Even the criticizers get criticized for not knowing their facts.

    If you’re gonna be a jerk, be a smart jerk!!

  8. Lady Di says:

    C’mon, don’t candy-coat what’s here. The Buccos still suck.

  9. Harry says:

    Cole throws very hard. So what? He fastball lack movement, I’ve read, and major leaguers hit straight fastballs no matter how hard they’re thrown. More than one scout believes he’s an arm injury waiting to happen because of flaws in his delivery. He could turn out to be a bust as easily as he turns out to be an ace.

  10. Jay Walker says:

    We own the Netherlands!

  11. Martin says:

    The Pirates still need to start drafting hitters in the draft 1st base and 3rd base also outfielders to add more depth and move them quickly through the farm system what is the point of having pitchers with no run support also sign Neal Walker is a must hopefully by the end of spring training would be nice but wishful thinking on my part.

  12. Lady Di says:

    There is absolutely no buzz for this team right now. Still. Again.

  13. Chuck H. says:

    19, 20 in a row-what’s the difference, they will still suck. I have been a Pirate fan since the 40’s, when they had some decent players, but don’t blame the players, who are really trying hard. Blame management, who will not spend the money to get some real players to go along with Andrew and Presley. And to the jerk who predicted 76 victories, are you serious?

  14. Paul says:

    It’s quite depressing to read things like I just did about the Pirates considering hitting Neil Walker fourth. I’ve come to realize that no amount of money or talent is going to change the outcome in Pittsburgh, you could hand Clint Hurdle the best bunch of players in the history of the game and he wouldn’t have the foggiest idea how to make out a lineup or where to play them.

    Two weeks into spring training and it’s already apparent that the season is over, the Pirates will likely finish at or near the bottom in run production and another 100 lose season is a distinct possibility and for no other reason that the front office insist on hiring managers and coach who run the team like it’s 1948.

  15. dave says:

    OK, Paul, since Hurdle is so dumb and you are so smart, who is your cleanup hitter? This team has no viable option. Alvarez? Hopefully someday, but not now.

  16. Paul says:

    Dave, Garrett Jones is clearly the better choice for the number four slot than Neil Walker. He has more power, walks more frequently and makes fewer outs than Walker. Walker shouldn’t be anywhere near the top 5 spots of a line up.

    As for Alvarez, when he reaches his potential (something that may not happen in Pittsburgh with the resident idiot Hurdle urging him to be more aggressive and swing at the first pitch – did we learn nothing from the Aramis Ramirez debacle?) he’ll be a better suited as a number three hitter with Andrew McCutchen taking his rightful spot in the lead-off spot where he would eventually be regarded as the best leadoff hitter since Ricky Henderson.

    This team will never be success until it hires a manager that doesn’t spend his time trying to pound square pegs into round holes because of some out of date by 60 years baseball cliche his philosophy is based on.

    In the short term that means they won’t be successful until they fire Hurdle and hire Jeff Branson, the only coach in the organization who’s been able to get the most out of the players currently on the roster.

  17. Lady Di says:

    We don’t need no stinkin’ power. Isn’t that what our fearless leader Neal Huntington said last season? The guy is a complete idiot!

  18. Dejan Shortpants says:

    Locke, Sanchez, Grossman and Owens got cut already? Doesn’t say much for our, um, vastly improved system, does it?

  19. Chuck H. says:

    I enjoy this BLOG column, and if what I put in it is anyway offensive to anyone, please accept my apologies. The Pirates, Steelers and Pitt Panthers are my favorite sports teams, and If I am not satisfied with the play of any of them, I will complain by way of a blog. This is the time of year for blogs about the Pirates, and if I think the Bucs are not going to have a winning season, I will say it.
    Make no mistake, if the Pirates do indeed, have a winning season, I will be very happy with the results. They do have a few good players, but unlike the Milwaukee Brewers, they don’t have enough of them. Too many strikeouts, and too few RBIs. GO, BUCS!!

  20. Kenneth W. says:

    We all have short memories and we all seem to be spoiled. We want winners in Pittsburgh and are not satisfied unless our teams win it all. But, when you look at the ball park with all the empty seats, it’s hard to blame the players for sometimes just going through the motions. Last year when the Pirates were winning, the seats were full and then …………….. ho hum, same old Pirates. Empty seats are a major part of the problem. What’s the saying? “You get what you pay for.”

    In 1960, the Pirates were not blessed with talent. They had a lot of average players that did their very best and then the magic happened. Remember that the hero of that season was a career 250 hitter. And, no one expected that team to be winners let alone beat the Yankees in the world series.

    Our team is not great and may not even be much above average, but if you root hard enough, even David can beat Goliath once in awhile. Go to the park and show your support for your team, and maybe, the 1960 miracle can happen again.

  21. Black n Gold (not yellow) says:

    Ok, the Pirates were in first place in late July last season until injuries finally destroyed the starting pitching and half the starting lineup. They, by all accounts, should be improved this season if McGehee, Bedard, Burnett, and Barmes have above average seasons respectively. The NL Central will be an easier run without notorious Pirate’s killers Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols. There really isn’t any reason, other than underperformance, that this team can’t be competitive again. Saying otherwise is choosing to ignore the facts and trends.

    As far as Pedro Alvarez is concerned, I cannot believe that no one has moved him closer to the plate. You can’t hit what you can’t reach and he can’t reach the outside edge. It’s PAINFULLY obvious. He should be hogging the plate until pitchers prove they can beat him inside. Moving him closer to plate gives him better coverage, allows him to stay with his natual pull tendency, and challenges the pitchers to throw it by him on the inner half. Psychologically, being able to see pitches on the outside edge better will also give him more confidence that he can hit those pitches. The process of hitting is overwhelmingly mental anyway. Two and a half inches would make all the difference.

  22. Dejan Shortpants says:

    Give this team Law, Friend, Face, Clemente, Groat and Maz, and the 1960 miracle can happen again. I don’t think that will happen, though.

  23. Chuck H. says:

    I, personally don’t think Pedro Alverez will ever hit major league pitching. The other day when we lost 3-2, in 3 at-bats he had 3 strikeouts. Way too many whiffs for a socalled
    major league hitter.

  24. Van Man says:

    Alvarez is a fat cat, the kind of player that doesn’t belong in the ‘Burgh. I hope the fans make a statement when his name is called in the home opener.

  25. wdmason says:

    We had a chance to get Bryce Harper. All we had to do is lose for the number one pick but we couldnt even do that when it counted most. Where would the Penguins be without Lemieux? I just couldnt believe we settle for second pick and another pitcher. We had our chance and we blew it. All we have is Alvarez Can we send him back to AA?

  26. Chuck H. says:

    The Pirates should give up on Jo Jo Reyes. Too many good pitchers waiting to get to the majors. We had another pitcher just like Reyes, last season Jose Veras, who lost some games for the Buccos, games we should have won. We don’t need any more consistent losers. We need people who want to win. Same goes for Fat Pedro, who can’t seem to catch up with major league pitchers. He’s not too good at third base either.

  27. wdmason says:

    I think Alvarez will be lost at AAA as well. Does anyone know if he can be sent back to AA or even back further?. He needs to go back somewhere where he can learn to hit and gain some confidence. I dont think the Pirates will fool around with him anymore. What a bust.

  28. DaveTN says:

    Marte and Hague need their chance now. Yes, very true in spring training they see more fastballs than they would in the regular season but they have both shown they can hit at the levels they have played and Marte can field well above average. I know neither has hit 20+ home runs in the minors but both have the potential to develop into players who will hit their share.

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