PNC PARK – Jose Bautista returned over the weekend. You might know he once played in Pittsburgh. You might be aware that he was from a fringy everyday player with the Pirates who became a four-time All-Star with the Blue Jays, a player who has averaged 38 home runs per season since 2010. It will not go down as Neal Huntington’s finest moment but could anyone have foreseen what happened with Bautista? Unlikely. I think even the Blue Jays initially batted Bautista lead-off.
PNC PARK – One of the worst things that could have happened (is happening?) for the Pirates in 2014 was for Francisco Liriano to revert to his 2011-12, 2007-09 self. You know, the guy that lost velocity, walked too many batters, and posted three seasons of 5.00+ ERAs. We expected regression. We didn’t expect Liriano to repeat The Best Season Ever Against Left-Handed Hitters. The Pirates could afford some give back just not a lot of regression. So far in 2014, there’s been too much fallback.
SOUTH HILLS – Wandy Rodriguez (right knee) is scheduled to make a rehab start for Triple-A Indianapolis today and it’s an important one for Rodriguez. We know the Pirates only owe more dollars to Russell Martin in 2014. We know Rodriguez has a solid MLB track record. But we also must begin to wonder how many more times the Pirates can run Rodriguez out there. His fastball has lost two mph. His curveball has lost bite according to scouts – though the pitch’s whiff rate is up – and his command has wavered since his return from his elbow injury last season. And at 10-16, the Pirates have lost much of their margin for error.