By Chris Adamski
NORTH SHORE – David Freese is sore. Sore enough he’s not in the lineup. But not sore enough he’s not available, if needed, Saturday.
The Pirates’ third baseman took a ball off the collarbone after a nasty hop late in Friday’s chilly win against the Atlanta Braves. He’s not in the lineup for Game 2 of the series today; the resulting chain reaction is Josh Harrison moving to third and Adam Frazier playing second.
Jaso at 1st base, Frazier at 2nd & in the leadoff spot, Harrison at 3rd
Freese (clavicle) is available off the bench pic.twitter.com/u2yU5bWaaM
— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) April 8, 2017
“It feels better than I thought,” Freese said of how he felt Saturday morning. “But obviously it’s tight and sore. Not in (the lineup); available to go in later if need be, and we’ll see how it feels tomorrow.”
Also of note, John Jaso making his first start of the season at first base. Manager Clint Hurdle attributed that to the fact that a knuckleballer is going for the Braves (R.A. Dickey) and that Jason has experience against Dickey (3 for 10 with two doubles).
>>> Speaking of the knuckleball… Just had a couple quick, fun chats with Steve Blass about it. As Hurdle mentioned today, most knuckleballers anymore are knuckleballers because they failed in some other route to get to the majors and turned to it as a last resort. I asked Blass if he ever considered doing that, as Blass’ career arc is famous for its high highs followed by a sudden and precipitous drop.
Blass said he threw a knuckleball twice: Ernie Banks hit a home run, and Lou Brock smacked a double. “Postgame, Brock said it as a hanging slider. He didn’t even know,” the always-affable Blass said with a chuckle. “So, that was the end of that.”
A few minutes later, I ran into Blass again. He added another quick story: From the other side, he once got a good swing on a pitch from Phil Niekro – perhaps the most famous knuckleballer of all-time. It was a good enough drive it was destined to be a home run – but alas, it was caught by a glove over the wall.
>>> No Kemp. Outfielder Matt Kemp, the Braves leader in average (.500), home runs (two), RBIs (four) and OPS (1.654) on the very early season, is out of Atlanta’s lineup Saturday (tight hamstring).
>>> The weather is much, much, much, much, MUCH better today than it was for Opening Day yesterday. As I type this, it’s 60 degrees with not a cloud in the sky:
>>> You want links? I’ve got links:
“Dammit, Jordy, that base hasn’t moved in 150 years! You don’t need to be looking over there to throw it.”
“It doesn’t really do much for my confidence because my confidence is already high.”
“I need to be mindful of my children, what they’re doing, how they’re doing and the demands that they have on their time.”
“That’s the best experience I’ve ever had at a baseball game.”
>>> Saturday’s game: Braves at Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: None. Radio: 93.7 FM
Braves: Ender Inciarte 8, Dansby Swanson 6, Freddie Freeman 3, Adonis Garcia 5, Nick Markakis 9, Brandon Phillips 4, Jace Peterson 7, Kurt Suzuki 2, RHP R.A. Dickey (2017 debut)
Pirates: Adam Frazier 4, Starling Marte 8, Andrew McCutchen 9, Gregory Polanco 7, John Jaso 3, Francisco Cervelli 2, Josh Harrison 5, Jordy Mercer 6, RHP Chad Kuhl (2017 debut)
Dickey’s final tune-up was on March 31, when he tossed two scoreless innings and gave up one hit against the New York Yankees in an exhibition at SunTrust Park in Atlanta. It was the knuckleballer’s best outing of the preseason.
>>> Sunday’s game: Braves at Pirates, 1:35 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM
Braves (1-3): Lineup TBA. RHP Julio Teheran (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Pirates (1-2): Lineup TBA. RHP Gerrit Cole (0-1, 9.00 ERA)
>>> Monday’s game: Reds at Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.
Reds: LHP Brandon Finnegan (1-0, 0.00)
Pirates: RHP Tyler Glasnow (2017 debut)
>>> Tuesday’s game: Reds at Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.
Reds: RHP Rookie Davis (0-0, 12.00)
Pirates: RHP Jameson Taillon (0-0, 0.00)
>>> Wednesday’s game: Reds at Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.
Reds: LHP Amir Garrett
Pirates: RHP Ivan Nova
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.