All posts by Chris Adamski

Chris Adamski joined Trib Total Media's Steelers coverage team in 2014 after spending two seasons on the Penn State football beat for the Trib. Before that, he had worked in Pittsburgh sports media for more than a decade, extensively covering the Steelers, Pirates, Penguins, Pitt, Duquesne and the WPIAL.

Game 21: Freese not in lineup but not ruled out to be available; a new Gift to open

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By Chris Adamski

NORTH SHORE – Two days after injuring himself when he missed the bag at first base, David Freese is “getting better” and hasn’t been ruled out to be available for Wednesday night’s game against the Chicago Cubs.

 

“Right hamstring tightness, day to day (but) he does feel better today,” head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk said about three hours prior to Wednesday’s scheduled 7:05 p.m. first pitch. “We will continue to treat and monitor him throughout the course of the day to see if there’s any availability for this evening. Obviously, (Thursday is a team off day) and we’ll re-assess him on Friday.”

 

On a team struggling offensively (last in the National League in runs), Freese has been the Pirates’ best hitter through three weeks. He leads the team in OPS (.954), home runs (tied, three), RBIs (10), average among regulars (.321) and walks (10).

 

The first game he missed was Tuesday – the Pirates were shut out.

 

>>> A new Gift to eagerly open:

GIFT
Gift Ngoepe is the first player from the continent of Africa to reach the Major Leagues. (Christopher Horner/Tribune-Review photo)

The Pirates made it farther into a season without a DL move than they had in 26 years. But once the transactions started coming, they kept coming.

 

For the third consecutive day, the Pirates announced a roster move. And in a never-seen-before twist, neither of the two parties involved in it were from the Americas.

 

Infielder Gift Ngoepe – a native of South Africa – was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis. Two days after being recalled and making his major-league debut, righty reliever Dovydas Neverauskas (MLB’s first born-and-raised Lithuanian) was optioned to Triple-A.

 

“I can’t describe the feeling right now. It hasn’t hit me yet,” Ngoepe said. “When (manager Clint Hurdle) calls me onto the field and says,`Hey, you have to go pinch-hit or pinch-run or take your glove out and play defense,’ that’s when everything will come together and I will burst into tears.”

 

As you might expect, Ngoepe is not in today’s lineup:

https://twitter.com/Pirates/status/857294863926263808

 

>>> You want links? I’ve got links:

Pirates call up Ngoepe, send down Neverauskas less than 48 hours after his recall

 

“There are going to be ups and downs throughout the whole year. You can’t get frustrated.”

Punchless Pirates 2-hit Cubs, lose on unearned run

 

“I do not see it as a program failure that we have positive tests.” 

MLB commissioner Manfred has faith in drug-testing program

 

“”I’m going to take my time to get my body better, get healthy, and work on my stuff.”

Pirates notebook: Hobbled Bastardo joins growing list of sidelined players

 

 

>>> Wednesday’s game: Cubs at Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM

Cubs (12-8): Kyle Schwarber 7, Kris Bryant 5, Anthony Rizzo 3, Addison Russell 6, Jason Heyward 9, Willson Contreras 2, Javy Baez 4, Jon Lester 1, Jon Jay 8. LHP Lester (0-0, 2.66)

Pirates (8-12): Josh Harrison 5, Jordy Mercer 6, Andrew McCutchen 8, Gregory Polanco 7, Francisco Cervelli 2, Jose Osuna 9, Josh Bell 3, Phil Gosselin 4, RHP Tyler Glasnow (0-1, 7.94)

Gamecast: Going into Tuesday’s game, the Cubs scored four or more runs in an inning nine times this season. No other team in the majors has splurged as often. … In their first 11 wins, the Cubs hit .289 with an .870 OPS and averaged 7.4 runs. In their first eight losses, the Cubs batted .221 with a .614 OPS and averaged 2.8 runs. … Lester tossed seven scoreless innings vs. the Pirates on April 16 at Wrigley Field but wound up with a no-decision. Over his first three starts, Lester allowed a total of two runs on 14 hits. In his last outing Friday vs. the Reds, he yielded five runs on nine hits.

 

>>> Off day Thursday

 

>>> Friday’s game: Pirates at Marlins, 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM

Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Jameson Taillon (1-0, 2.13 ERA)

Marlins (10-8): Lineup TBA. LHP Adam Conley (1-1, 3.00 ERA)

 

>>> Saturday’s game: Pirates at Marlins, 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM

Pirates: Lineup TBA RHP Ivan Nova (2-2, 2.00 ERA)

Marlins: Lineup TBA. RHP Dan Straily (1-1, 3.92 ERA)

 

>>> Sunday’s game: Pirates at Marlins, 1:10 p.m., Marlins Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM

Pirates: Lineup TBA RHP Chad Kuhl (1-2, 6.63 ERA)

Marlins: Lineup TBA. RHP Tom Koehler (1-1, 5.14 ERA)

 

 

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at cadamski@tribweb.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib

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Game 16: Jose Osuna’s PNC Park debut comes in the starting lineup

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By Chris Adamski

NORTH SHORE – Some four hours prior to Friday’s first pitch, Jose Osuna had yet to shag flies in PNC Park’s unique right field. He’d also yet to see his name written into a regular-season major-league lineup.

 

Both changed in preparation for Friday’s game against the New York Yankees.

 

“It’s a good opportunity for showing what I can do in the field,” Osunsa said. “I have to do my job. Trying to do something good today and trying to find my first hit tonight.”

 

Osuna
Jose Osuna ranked third among all major leaguers in OPS during this spring training at 1.252. (Christopher Horner/Tribune-Review photo)

Osuna becomes the fourth different player to start in right over the first 16 games of the Pirates’ season – the third in three days since Andrew McCutchen had to vacate the position to shift back over to center following announcement of the 80-game suspension for Starling Marte.

 

Osuna was recalled when word of that broke Tuesday. He went 0 for 2 in pinch hitting duties over the final two games of the series in St. Louis, and he played an inning at first base, his natural position.

 

But opportunity exists, for 77 games at least, in RF now for the Pirates. Manager Clint Hurdle wouldn’t commit to naming – or even using – a regular everyday rightfielder during Marte’s absence. After hitting .407 (22-for-54) with a team-leading five homers and a 1.252 OPS in 22 spring training games, Osuna has the opportunity in front of him to earn the gig.

 

“I have to do my job,” Osuna said. “I am trying to stay here, so I know I just have to work.”

 

 

>>> Dang Yankees

It’s not your normal, run-of-the-mill late-April series at PNC Park, of course. It’s THE YANKEES.

 

“They travel well; they’re like the Beatles,” Hurdle said. “There will be al lot of Yankee fans in the ballpark tonight.”

 

Hurdle relayed how he saw plenty of pinstripe-adorned partisans around the city over the past 24 hours.

 

“I was kind of intrigued in the way they’d migrate over to the Mazeroski statue and get their picture taken,” Hurdle said. “Because to this day they will still complain about the one that got away more than the (27 World Series titles they’ve won). That one got away is still the rock in the shoe.”

 

The Mazeroski statue, of course, commemorates the walk-off home run that allowed the Pirates to beat the Yankees in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series.

 

 

>>> You want links? I’ve got, well, one link:

“We have no problem pushing in our chips on some guys who’ve dealt with adversity.”

Daniel Hudson not slowed by Tommy John surgeries

 

 

>>> Friday’s game: Yankees at Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM

Yankees (10-5): Brett Gardner 7, Chase Headley 5, Starlin Castro 4, Jacoby Ellsbury 8, Aaron Judge 9, Greg Bird 3, Austin Romine 2, Ronald Torreyes 6, LHP CC Sabathia (2-0, 1.47)

Pirates (6-9): Jordy Mercer 6, Josh Harrison 4, Andrew McCutchen 8, Gregory Polanco 7, David Freese 5, Francisco Cervelli 2, Jose Osuna 9, Josh Bell 3, RHP Tyler Glasnow (0-1, 12.25)

Gamecast: In his last outing, Sabathia, 36, was a 3-2 winner vs. the Cardinals. He allowed three hits and a walk and struck out six in 7.1 IP. … The Yankees had their eight-game winning streak snapped over the weekend by the White Sox. It’s the first time since 2000 that New York has won eight in a row before May. … The Cubs did not attempt a steal against Glasnow on Saturday. Opponents are 13 for 13 in stolen base attempts against him this year.

 

>>> Saturday’s game: Yankees at Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM

Yankees: Lineup TBA. RHP Michael Pineda (2-1, 3.44)

Pirates: Lineup TBA RHP Jameson Taillon (1-0, 0.90 ERA)

 

>>> Sunday’s game: Yankees at Pirates, 1:35 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Yankees: Lineup TBA. LHP Jordan Montgomery (1-0, 4.22)

Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Ivan Nova (1-2, 2.25)

 

>>> Monday-Wednesday games: Cubs at Pirates, all at 7:05 p.m., all at PNC Park. All on Root TV and 93.7 FM. Probable starting pitchers and lineups TBA.

 

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at cadamski@tribweb.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

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Game 8: Gregory Polanco sits for the first time in ’17

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By Chris Adamski

NORTH SHORE – Facing lefthanded starters on consecutive days likely would have signaled an ideal time for a Gregory Polanco day off, regardless.

 

Taking advantage of an opportunity to rest a balky left shoulder made the decision that much easier for Clint Hurdle.

 

Gregory Polanco & Clint Hurdle
(Christopher Horner/Tribune-Review photo)

“Just to get his shoulder a break,” the Pirates manager said Wednesday afternoon. “We’re going to get another lefty (Eduardo Rodriguez on Thursday in Boston), so it’s not so much that it’s a lefthander. It’s just the day; the day we chose.”

 

Polanco has hit .400 (6 for 15) in his past four games, reaching safely in all of them. He’s a .300 hitter at PNC Park since the start of last season. He’s a .202 career hitter against lefthanders, including 2 for 18 this season.

 

Adam Frazier is going to make his sixth start of the season (second in left along with two at second, one at third and one as the designated hitter).

 

Wednesday’s game is No. 6 in a stretch of 13 consecutive days with a game and 19 of 20 in which they play. Hurdle was asked if it’s already time to start picking spots to get players a day of rest.

 

“You know, we have continued to communicate with these guys on their thoughts and work with the training staff and the recovery program that we have in place,” Hurdle said. “We will see as we go on. Because I can sit here and tell you a plan – and then we play 14 innings today. So we have a mindset of what we want to do and how we’ll do it with certain individuals, and we will see how that plays out.

 

“But I do think the guys are fresh and they are ready to play and they are looking forward to getting into some routines.”

 

 

>>> Afternoon delights

Rare in the Major Leagues these days – even for the Cubs – is playing afternoon games on four consecutive days. But after Wednesday’s game, the Pirates head to Boston for a makeup game starting at 2:05 p.m., followed by Friday-Saturday-Sunday games at Wrigley Field all with a scheduled first pitch of 2:20 p.m. ET.

 

“Four straight days games,” Hurdle said, “that will be a routine in and of itself there.”

 

Hurdle was reminded that the Pirates recently went though a stretch in which they 27 day games (out of 28 total games) over a stretch of 30 days ending March 26 – in Florida during the first month of Grapefruit League play.

 

“We did that for a while,” Hurdle said, “so that one shouldn’t be too far to pull back from.”

 

At least losing balls in the new LED lighting won’t be a concern.

“Aaah! Natural light! Get it off me! Get it off me!”

 

 

>>> You want links? I’ve got links:

“It’s not going our way right now with runners on base and in scoring position. But we’re going to fix it. We’re going to get there for sure.”

Offense lets Pirates down again in rainy home loss to Reds

 

“Facing big league hitters, you can’t really conserve anything — especially when you’re trying to get big league hitters out with the stuff I have.”

Notebook: Reliever LeBlanc downplays role in Monday’s Reds game

 

The Pirates have reached the billionaires club.

Team surpasses $1 billion in worth, according to Forbes


 

>>> Wednesday’s game: Reds at Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: None (due to conflict with Penguins playoff game). Radio: 93.7 FM.

Reds: Billy Hamilton 8, Jose Peraza 4, Joey Votto 3, Adam Duvall 7, Eugenio Suarez 5, Scott Schebler 9, Zach Cozart 6, Tucker Barnhart 2, LHP Amir Garrett (1-0, 0.00)

Pirates: Jordy Mercer 6, Starling Marte 8, Andrew McCutchen 9, David Freese 5, Francisco Cervelli 2, Josh Bell 3, Josh Harrison 4, Adam Frazier 7, RHP Ivan Nova (1-0, 0.00)

Gamecast: In seven career starts at PNC Park, Nova has twice as many victories (four) as walked batters (two). Of course, that mirrors his production with the Pirates overall (six wins, three walks) since being acquired in an Aug. 1 trade. … Garrett, a former basketball player at St. John’s University, is making his second major-league start after pitching six shutout innings in his debut last week.

 

>>> Thursday’s game: Pirates at Red Sox, 2:05 p.m.. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM

Pirates: RHP Chad Kuhl (1-0, 3.60)

Red Sox: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (0-1, 7.20)

 

>>> Friday’s game: Pirates at Cubs, 2:20 p.m., TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates: RHP Gerrit Cole (0-1, 6.55)

Cubs: RHP Kyle Hendricks (1-0, 6.00)

 

>>> Saturday’s game: Pirates at Cubs, 2:20 p.m., TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates: RHP Tyler Glasnow (0-1, 27.00)

Cubs: RHP John Arrieta (2-0, 2.08)

 

>>> Sunday’s game: Pirates at Cubs, 2:20 p.m., TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates: RHP Jameson Taillon (0-0, 1.38)

Cubs: LHP Jon Lester (0-0, 1.64)

 

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at cadamski@tribweb.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

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Game 7: Josh Harrison returns, Wade LeBlanc beloved by all

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By Chris Adamski

NORTH SHORE – Josh Harrison’s absence from the lineup lasted one day.

 

Harrison was back at second base, back in the familiar (for this season) No. 7 spot in the batting order for Tuesday’s game against the Reds.

JHay
The real J-Hay will be on the field when the wildly-popular new PNC Park between-innings scoreboard segment, “Lil J-Hay” is playing. (Christopher Horner/Tribune-Review photo)

 

Harrison was struck by a pitch on his right calf in the eighth inning of Sunday’s game and did not play Monday. He finished out the inning but was in pain and was lifted the following inning. It was not expected he would be out long – and today was the proof.

 

>>> LeBlanc the hero:

Wade LeBlanc’s 5 1/3 innings of effective relief (only one baserunner, albeit it was a home run) on Monday night continued to earn praise from manager Clint Hurdle and teammates the following day because it saved the bullpen. Hurdle suggested that if LeBlanc only lasted an inning or two that a roster move or two would have been necessitated today to alleviate the taxed bullpen.

 

“I joked with the guys that I want to get through the season with seven relievers,” LeBlanc said. “So whatever I can do to make that happen, I’m game.”

 

A cynic would have termed LeBlanc’s work Monday as “mop-up duty.” LeBlanc didn’t use that term (and neither did us reporters). But talking to him, you have the feel he’s quite self-aware and comfortable in his own skin with his role at this point of his career (age 32, after 10 seasons worth of often bouncing back and forth from the minors).

 

A respectable .243 career hitter, check out LeBlanc’s one-liner when asked if he enjoyed coming up twice with the bases loaded against the Reds’ Brandon Finnegan and Michael Lorenzen on Monday:

“Not against those guys. I need to hit against me.”

 

 

 

>>> Rain, rain, go away??:

As this is initially posted coming up on close to two hours prior to the scheduled first pitch, the tarp remains on the field at PNC Park. Accuweather predicts rain will begin in Pittsburgh before 6 p.m….

Stay tuned.

 

>>> You want links? I’ve got links:

“I’ve got to forget about this one and move on to the next one.”

Pirates’ Glasnow goes wild in loss to Reds

 

“It’s taken three times to find it, but I found it (Sunday). That’s the way it is sometimes.” 

Pirates notebook: Cole rediscovers slider in 2nd start

 

>>> Tuesday’s game: Reds at Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM

Reds: Billy Hamilton 8, Jose Peraza 6, Joey Votto 3, Adam Duvall 7, Eugenio Suarez 5, Scott Schebler 9, Scooter Gennett 4, Tucker Barnhart 2, RHP Rookie Davis (0-0, 12.00)

Pirates: Starling Marte 8, Josh Bell 3, Andrew McCutchen 9, Gregory Polanco 7, David Freese 5, Francisco Cervelli 2, Josh Harrison 4, Jordy Mercer 6, RHP Jameson Taillon (0-0, 0.00 in one start)

Gamecast: Yes, that really is his nickname. William Theron Davis was tabbed “Rookie” at birth by his father. “I’ve never answered to any other name,” Davis said. … Davis made his big league debut Thursday vs. the Phillies. He worked three innings and gave up four runs on five hits, walked two and struck out four. His catcher was Stuart Turner, who also was playing his first major league game. It was the first time in Reds history a starting pitcher and catcher made their big league debuts in the same game. … The Reds acquired Davis as part of the December 2015 trade that sent Aroldis Chapman to the Yankees.

 

>>> Wednesday’s game: Reds at Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: None (due to conflict with Penguins playoff game). Radio: 93.7 FM.

Reds: LHP Amir Garrett (1-0, 0.00)

Pirates: RHP Ivan Nova (1-0, 0.00)

 

>>> Thursday’s game: Pirates at Red Sox, 2:05 p.m.. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM

Pirates: RHP Chad Kuhl (1-0, 3.60)

Red Sox: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (0-1, 7.20)

 

>>> Friday’s game: Pirates at Cubs, 2:20 p.m., TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates: RHP Gerrit Cole (0-1, 6.55)

Cubs: TBA

 

>>> Saturday’s game: Pirates at Cubs, 2:20 p.m., TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates: RHP Tyler Glasnow (0-1, 27.00)

Cubs: LHP Amir Garrett

 

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at cadamski@tribweb.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib

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Game 4 (for real this time): Freese not in lineup, but available and “all good”

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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.

 

 

23
Freese on Friday — before taking a ball off the clavicle (Christopher Horner/Tribune-Review photo)

“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:

Much different weather for Home Game 2

A post shared by Chris Adamski (@chrisadamskipgh) on Apr 8, 2017 at 12:28pm PDT

 

>>> 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.”

Mercer’s magic saves Pirates in home opener

 

“It doesn’t really do much for my confidence because my confidence is already high.”

Just another day: McCutchen helps Pirates offense break slump

 

“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.”

Pirates notebook: Hurdle finds more balance with work, family

 

“That’s the best experience I’ve ever had at a baseball game.”

Kevin Gorman column: Catching a memory from the home opener

 

>>> 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 cadamski@tribweb.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

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Pirates A.M.: Taillon a confident pitcher right now, with good reason

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By Chris Adamski

BRADENTON, Fla. — Jameson Taillon didn’t have his best stuff Wednesday. And that he yet still put up a clean stat line is a testament both to his talent and his current confidence level.

 

JT
(Christopher Horner/Tribune-Review photo)

The Pirates’ second-year No. 2 starter said as much afterwards, both lamenting some of his pitches and simultaneously and palpably (and humbly) taking great pride in the way he was able to challenge good hitters when behind in the count – and still get outs.

 

Taillon’s demeanor – both on the mound during games and in the clubhouse between them – belies a man who has just 18 major-league games on his résumé.

 

The No. 2 overall draft pick always believed he had major-league starter talent in him. But even the most confident of people can have some apprehension until when and if they actually perform at that level. Taillon’s 3.38 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 104 MLB innings last season removed any doubt.

 

“I think you know you can do it; you can never lose that self-confidence,” Taillon was saying last week. “It’s nice have to kind of done a little circuit up there and know how it works. But that being said I’m still preparing as if I’m not guaranteed a spot, and I think that will serve me well.”

 

“He’s hungry, he just wants to keep on learning and be one of the best of the best,” pitching coach Ray Searage said. “And I say all the time: his maturity is way beyond his years. He’s got a good feel for the game. Some people are born to pitch. And I think Jameson is one of those people.”

 

 

>>> You want links? I’ve got links:

“The Pirates definitely value it a little more than maybe the average team in Major League Baseball as a whole”

‘Super-utility’ players dot Pirates’ roster, to benefit of team, Hurdle

 

They anticipate him being back into game activity tomorrow.”

Marte among the day’s injury updates, plus other notes

 

“I’d fall behind in the count and throw a competitive challenge pitch and got some good results.”

Jameson Taillon is in a good place right now

 

 

>>> Thursday’s game:  Pirates (13-5) at Red Sox (8-10), 6:05 p.m., JetBlue Park at Fenway South, Fort Myers, Fla. Webcast: pirates.com

Pirates: Adam Frazier 6, Phil Gosselin 4, Josh Bell 3, Jose Osuna 7, Elias Diaz 2, Alen Hanson 9, Eury Perez 8, Gift Ngoepe 5. RHP Ivan Nova 1.

Also pitching for the Pirates: RH Edgar Santana, RH A.J. Schugel, LH Dan Runzler, RH Donvydas Neverauskas

Red Sox: Lineup TBA. LHP Chris Sale

Also pitching for the Red Sox: RH Craig Kimbrel, RH Heath Hembree, LH Robbie Ross Jr., RH Jamie Callahan.

 

>>> My spot start has ended:  My 10-day stint in Bradenton is up, so as of Thursday I’m back in Pittsburgh. The incomparable Rob Biertempfel is back with the ol’ ballclub starting then. I can only hope he’s returning and doesn’t have too much of a mess to clean up (figuratively in regards to the beat, and literally at the condo at Casa de Trib). Thanks for following along.

 

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at cadamski@tribweb.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

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Pirates A.M.: Pedro Alvarez to make his spring training debut – against the Pirates in Bradenton

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By Chris Adamski

BRADENTON, Fla. — There is finally an El Toro sighting for the Grapefruit League this spring.

 

And it’s coming at a very familiar place.

 

Toro
Simpler times: when Pedro was a Pittsburgh star — and the Pirates flashed the “Z” for “Zoltan.”

Four days after signing with the Orioles (and waiting four weeks into camp before doing so), Pedro Alvarez is in their lineup for the first time Wednesday when the O’s make the short drive up from Sarasota to face the Pirates at LECOM Park.

 

Alvarez, of course, spent seven springs playing here (when it was still called McKechnie Field, of course). But, as is well known to Pirates fans, he did it at third base – until his struggles there compounded to the point he spent his final season with the team at first base.

 

The Pirates, as you’ll surely recall, non-tendered  Alvarez 16 months ago, and the Orioles eventually scooped him up to be their DH last season.

 

In terms of Alvarez’s free-agent market value, his fielding (led the NL in errors three consecutive seasons) and on-base numbers (.311 career OBP) are poor enough they overshadow prodigious power (led the NL in HR in ’13, hit 47 over the past two seasons in just 867 plate appearances, 14th among active players in AB per HR).

 

The Orioles are trying the newest experiment in regards to Alvarez’s glove: the outfield.

 

Manager Buck Showalter insists Alvarez can handle it. We’ll see – but we won’t see it today at LECOM.

 

 

>>>>> Tuesday was a wonderful day here. After an exact month straight of work for everyone involved, it was an off day (mostly) for the Pirates.

 

But in terms of prep for the season – in particular, for starting pitchers – Neal Huntington threw some proverbial cold water on it: “Off days are great thing,” the general manager said Monday, “but they’re also a day we don’t get nine innings.”

 

In the context of stretching out the starting pitchers (both for Pittsburgh and Triple-A Indianapolis) as well as evaluate the five pitchers purportedly in a competition for the final two rotation spots, missing out on those nine valuable innings.

 

Luckily, the Pirates have Ray Searage.

 

“Ray,” Huntington said, “is a master puzzle man in terms of putting together the innings and how we get innings.”

 

 

>>> You want links? I’ve got, well, one link (hey, cut me some slack – yesterday was the first “off day” of the spring. And I still worked):

Fraz
(Christopher Horner/Tribune-Review photo)

“We don’t come from a very big town. … Successful guys, I guess, kind of stick together.”

From Georgia to Pittsburgh, Pirates’ Frazier and Steelers’ Mettenberger share bond

 

 

>>> Wednesday’s game: Orioles (10-7) at Pirates (12-5), 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. TV: ROOT Sports. Radio: 93.7 The Fan

Orioles: Chris Dickerson 9, Johnny Giavotella 4, Hyun Soo Kim 7, Chris Davis 3, Pedro Alvarez DH, Chris Johnson 5, Logan Schafer 8, Caleb Joseph 2, Paul Janish 6. RHP Ubaldo Jimenez

Also pitching for the Orioles: RHP Zach Stewart, LHP Donnie Hart.

Pirates: Adam Frazier 4, Jordy Mercer 6, Jose Osuna 3, David Freese 5, John Jaso 9, Phil Gosselin 7, Danny Ortiz 8, Chris Stewart 2, RHP Jameson Taillon

Also pitching for the Pirates: LH Antonio Bastardo, RH Jared Hughes, RH Juan Nicasio.

RH Chad Kuhl will pitch at Pirate City in a minor league game.

 

>>> Thursday’s game: Pirates  at Red Sox (8-10 heading into Wednesday’s game), 6:05 p.m., JetBlue Park at Fenway South, Fort Myers, Fla. Webcast: pirates.com

Pirates: RHP Ivan Nova. Lineup TBA.

Also pitching for the Pirates: RH Edgar Santana, RH A.J. Schugel, LH Dan Runzler, RH Donvydas Neverauskas.

Red Sox: Lineup TBA. LHP Chris Sale

Also pitching for the Red Sox: RH Craig Kimbrel, RH Heath Hembree, LH Robbie Ross Jr., RH Jamie Callahan.

 

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at cadamski@tribweb.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

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Pirates A.M.: What’s up with Tyler Glasnow?

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By Chris Adamski

BRADENTON, Fla. — Repeat after me: Spring training statistics don’t matter. Everyone will tell you that.

 

OK, now that that’s out of the way… let’s start to panic about why Tyler Glasnow’s statistics are so bad.

 

He’s pitched in four games (one of them does not count in his “official” stats that you will see because it was not a Grapefruit League game and was a *true* exhibition – don’t let Rob Manfred hear you calling all the other March games “exhibitions”).

 

His line in those four games combined: 8 2/3 innings, 15 hits, 12 runs (all earned), seven walks, nine strikeouts. That’s good for a 12.46 ERA, 2.19 WHIP, .455 opponent batting average and 1.29 K/BB ratio.

 

TG
(Christopher Horner/Tribune-Review photo)

That’s not good. Even accounting for the small sample size and for the – again – fact that it is only spring training, it’s certainly alarming that a pitcher who is so highly regarded (he’d been a top-20 MLB prospect and Pirates’ top-3 prospect in both 2015 and ’16) is having so much trouble.

 

Couple it with the problems he had in his four major-league starts last season and it’s a bit unnerving.

 

Most of all, though, Glasnow’s fragile confidence is what’s most telling. He just seems, well, off. Even his I’m-thinking-about-things-too-much explanation for a balk he committed in Monday’s loss to the Braves in Orlando: “I was in the middle of the slide step, so I was already in the middle of going forward, I should have just thrown it. I was in the middle of the delivery.”

 

Then, here’s manager Clint Hurdle’s reaction to a question about the balk, one in which the reporter gave him every opportunity to brush it aside: “You can’t just say it didn’t happen. That’s part of his game awareness. There’s work to be done there. Because he will tell you if he has an opportunity like that again, you step off the rubber right there. You turn and you get an out. You don’t, (then) you balk, you move the guy up, you give up the run. So that’s part of his game awareness. I think he’s making strides in shortening up his delivery at times when it’s appropriate. I think he’s found a way to make his feet and hands work well as far as throwing over. So I think there’s some areas he’s developed.”

 

In the bigger picture, Glasnow almost exclusively and repeatedly kept coming back to Monday’s directive from pitching coach Ray Searage to only throw fastballs when behind in the count. Though I never got a chance to ask Searage what the exact rationale behind this was, it’s a logical assumption it was to help Glasnow avoid a meltdown like he had in his prior outing against the Dominicans last Wednesday when he walked four batters before retiring anybody in his third inning of work and got pulled.

 

Then this outing, while throwing fastballs, he at least was finding the plate (only one walk) – but it was four consecutive hits that did him in.

 

Either way, not being able to get any hitters out? That’s, um, a problem. It’s almost pick your poison – and Glasnow was palpably annoyed he had no recourse Monday but to throw his 94-mph fastball.

 

Hurdle, it could be interpreted, didn’t take too well to the assertion that Glasnow was conveying the idea that his hands were tied:

 

“Ray wanted him to go in there with a gameplan to follow. And the gameplan was fine for two innings – so now when the gameplan doesn’t work, where do you go with that? Do you point the finger at Ray for the gameplan or do you look at the execution of the pitches and where they ended up? I know what we’re looking at. We haven’t been result-oriented with any pitcher or any player out here at spring training. We’re looking for execution, we’re looking for pace and rhythm on the mound. We’re looking for an ability to follow that glove and dot the ball with downhill angle and throw some low strikes. So he’s got some work to do.”

 

Earlier in his postgame comments, Hurdle in response to question about Glasnow following orders: “Well, Ray wanted him to use his fastball as long as he was behind in the counts; once he got ahead in the counts he could go to breaking stuff. So first two innings, everything was fine. Ball got elevated in the third inning — and they didn’t miss it. I think it was five shots at getting out of the inning: a walk and four consecutive hits. So there is work still to be done. We saw some good things the first two innings and when you get better location in the third inning and we weren’t able to do that.”

 

And just in case you think Hurdle was just flame-throwing his young precocious righty, don’t. He came out in defense of him when some dummy asked Hurdle a question seeming to paint Glasnow in a negative light:

“I think you guys (in the media) need to also revisit what you’re writing about him and what we’re talking about. He pitched in Triple-A (last season), and nobody is getting on base; he pitches up here and people are getting on base. Guys are better hitters and there’s better lineups. So that evolution and that development and that curve is a challenge for any young pitcher. We need to continue to work with him and challenge him to continue to find ways to get out of innings with quick contact. The counts also picked up and got lengthy – he still had every opportunity to get a quick ground ball — those are things he’s still working to do. There’s better hitters up here though; the breaking ball has got to be sharp and there’s got to be more depth to it. Fastball has got to have some late life and then I saw him moving the ball around the first two innings but when the ball is elevated up here it’s hard for anyone to pitch. And I think he was set on 94 (mph) – that’s nothing that’s going to rearrange anyone’s mindset at the plate. He’s just got some work to do. We like him and like a lot of the things he does, but he’s just got some more work to do.”

 

Anyway… Glasnow is still very young. And very, very talented. It’s far, far, FAR from time to give up on him or even hit any panic buttons in that general vicinity. But it seems that his chances of winning a spot in the 2017 opening day rotation have evaporated. And would have thought that all last April and May when everyone was crushing the Pirates for not calling him up?

 

 

>>> “Head to the beach. Relax” – Clint Hurdle

Tuesday is the first off day for the Pirates since Grapefruit League play began Feb. 25. It’ll also be the first scheduled off day from any formal activity or mandatory appearances for the pitchers and catchers for a month straight since they reported on Valentine’s Day.

 

 

>>> You want links? I’ve got links:

“He’s making himself valuable to Clint, to be on the team and to help us win games.”

Newest Pirate Phil Gosselin doing whatever he can to fit in (including hit .400)

 

 “None of them did anything to deserve getting sent out of camp. It just became a matter of innings.”

Newman, Kingham, four others sent to minor league camp Monday

 

“Do you point the finger at Ray for the gameplan? Or do you look at the execution of the pitches and where they ended up? “

Clint Hurdle has little sympathy for a frustrated Tyler Glasnow getting knocked around again

 

 

>>> Wednesday’s game: Orioles (10-6 heading into Tuesday’s game) at Pirates (12-5), 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. Webcast: pirates.com

Orioles: Lineup TBA. RHP Ubaldo Jimenez

Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Jameson Taillon

Also pitching for Pirates: LH Antonio Bastardo, RH Jared Hughes, RH Juan Nicasio.

 

>>> Thursday’s game: Pirates at Red Sox (7-10 heading into Tuesday’s game), 6:05 p.m., JetBlue Park at Fenway South, Fort Myers, Fla. Webcast: pirates.com

Lineups/pitchers TBA.

 

 

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at cadamski@tribweb.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

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Pirates A.M.: Ode to Jaso – and not just because of his fabulous dreadlocks

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By Chris Adamski

 

BRADENTON, Fla. — Fans can debate the on-field contributions and statistical worth of John Jaso while he’s midway through a two-year, $8 million contract. He hit .268/.353/.413 last season, primarily as a first baseman).

 

But when it comes to intangibles, count Clint Hurdle as a fan.

 

Jaso
With this hair — and an attitude that, for example, allows him to put on this glove — it’s no wonder Clint Hurdle is a fan of John Jaso. (Christopher Horner/Tribune-Review photo)

“John is as a good a teammate as I have had in a clubhouse,” the Pirates’ skipper said. “And I’ve been managing a while now.”

 

Hurdle has been an MLB manager for 14 seasons.

 

Asked a simple, almost-random postgame question about Jaso after Sunday’s game at LECOM Park, Hurdle gave an expansive, 200-word answer gushing about the dreadlocked unassuming infielder.

 

“He shows up every day, and he will do whatever is asked of him that day to help his team win,” Hurdle said. “He’s bought into moving around and trying new positions. This is a man who wants to play baseball; he doesn’t want to DH. And he’s just so good in so many ways in the clubhouse. He’s got no ego, he’s very smart. There’s a lot of different topics you can run up the flagpole that John can throw something in on — and with some research. He’s  not just throwing out opinions without experience. I like the man.”

 

Almost exclusively a catcher (and part-time designated hitter) over six seasons in the American League. Jaso was signed to play first base and bat leadoff for the Pirates last season. Certainly not the profile of the traditional, stereotypical leadoff hitter, Jaso fit more of a mold in that because of his plate discipline and ability to get on base.

 

It was an up-and-down 2016 in that area, in particular, and at the plate in general for Jaso.

 

  • Jaso’s on-base percentage by month last season: .389, .348, .313, .262, .455, .383
  • His OPS by month last season: .845, .775, .609, .512, .969, .987

 

Through it all, Hurdle remains enamored.

 

“He’s, I think, the one player I’ve had who I don’t think I have ever seen him argue about a call at the plate,” Hurdle said. “It’s been one full season and now one spring now. And I can’t say that about anyone else I’ve ever had that. Whatever happens, happens – and he moves on.

 

“But he plays with intensity, he plays with confidence, and he wants to compete and he wants to play well. You feel that every day.”

 

 

>>> MORNING UPDATE: Pirates send out Kingham and Newman

GTR-BucsNB01-031417
“Goodbye… Newman.” (Christopher Horner/Tribune-Review photo)

“None of them did anything to deserve getting sent out camp; it just became a matter of innings.”

The shortstop and starting pitcher prospect, respectively, are among four players who packed up their lockers at LECOM Park and headed over to Pirate City on Monday morning.

 

 

>>> You want (more) links? I’ve got (more!) links:

“It’s tough when you get the news that you’re going to be out more than a year and a half,” Sanchez said last week. “It’s a job that you love, and you don’t even know if you’re coming back well from that. It’s unfathomable the time you have to spend to get back to where you want to be”

I talked to four Pirates who had Tommy John surgery during a spring in which many (including Casey Sadler on Sunday) make long-awaited returns

 

“I spend (so) much time on (Twitter) mindlessly. Lent is great time for me to focus on my spirituality, and it’s been awesome.”

Trevor Williams gives up social media for Lent – and issuing walks, too (Sunday, at least)

 

“Spunky” Stew, Fiery Felipe, Neat Newman and Hammerin’ Hague

Pirates Gameday No. 16 of the spring

 

 

>>> Monday’s game:  Pirates (12-4) at Braves (5-10), 1:05 p.m., Champion Stadium, Orlando. Radio: 93.7 The Fan

Braves: Lineup TBA. RHP Bartolo Colon

Also pitching for Braves: LH John Danks, RH Jim Johnson, RH Arodys Vizcaino, RH Luke Jackson

Pirates: Frazier 8, Gosselin 6, Meadows 7, Bell 3, Diaz 2, Terdoslavich 9, Hanson 5, Ngoepe 4, RHP Tyler Glasnow 1.

Also pitching for Pirates: LH Wade LeBlanc, RH A.J. Schugel, LH Dan Runzler, RH Pat Light, RH Donvydas Nererauskas.

Also Monday, Gerrit Cole is scheduled to pitch 60-65 pitches in a minor league game at Pirate City.

 

>>> Tuesday: Off day

 

>>> Wednesday’s game: Orioles (9-6 heading into Monday’s game) at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton, Fla. Webcast: pirates.com

Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Jameson Taillon.

Also pitching for Pirates: LH Antonio Bastardo, RH Jared Hughes, RH Juan Nicasio.

Orioles: Lineup TBA. RHP Ubaldo Jimenez

 

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at cadamski@tribweb.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

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Pirates A.M. – Bucs still “going to give Alen Hanson opportunities”

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By Chris Adamski

 

BRADENTON, Fla. — Alen Hanson is fast. He has the type of speed that, when you see him run up close in person, it sort of takes your breath away.

 

But, in an analogy I feel comfortable making and might make some sense coming from – does he have Dri Archer speed or Chris Johnson speed?

Hanson
Alen Hanson attempting a tag on… Starling Marte? (Christopher Horner/Tribune-Review photo)

 

“He’s in competition with three or four other guys,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Hanson, who at one point was one of the organization’s top prospects but now finds himself facing an uphill climb just to make the 25-man roster as a bench piece. “And what we’re looking for is dependability out of that position.”

 

Hanson played all five innings of Saturday’s game in Sarasota against the Orioles. He had an error but also showed his range and made a few plays. He also had a double (albeit, his only hit in five at bats).

 

Because of his speed (205 steals in the minors) and versatility (2B, 3B, SS, OF), Hanson potentially could be a valuable reserve for the Pirates this season. But like Hurdle said, he’s kind of stuck in a logjam of players (Adam Frazier, Phil Gosselin, Max Moroff, Gift Ngoepe, Chris Bostick among players on the 40-man roster alone) who play similar positions (not even counting the “starters” and – until a certain somebody arrives stateside – starter-for-now David Freese).

 

In short, there’s far from any guarantees for Hanson, who’s no longer high on the ubiquitous “prospect lists” for the Pirates (and MLB on whole) like he was a few years ago.

 

“We are going to keep giving him opportunities because he can do some things that you like a lot,” Hurdle said. “The versatility can play and can help out. It’s just finding that niche to be a dependable player with the glove. And he’s working hard to become that.”

 

 

>>> You want links? I’ve got links:

“It provides us with some flexibility.”

Pirates place Jung Ho Kang on restricted list

 

“He’s someone who can definitely hold down that position when he’s in the lineup.”

Adam Frazier is regularly in the leadoff spot for the Pirates (plus other notes)

 

“He’s fun to watch.”

Ngeope has quite a day in Sarasota; Clay Holmes gets hit, other observations from Saturday’s game

 

 

>>> Sunday’s game: Twins (8-4) at Pirates (11-4), 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. TV: ROOT Sports, Radio: 93.7 The Fan

Twins: J.B. Shuck 8, Eduardo Escobar 6, Ben Paulsen 3, Matt Hague DH, Daniel Palka 7, Drew Stubbs 9, Tommy Field 4, John Ryan Murphy 2, Ehire Adrianza 5. RHP Ryan Vogelsong

Also pitching for Twins: LH Taylor Rogers, RH Nick Tepsch, RH Michael Tonkin

Pirates: Danny Ortiz 8, Jordy Mercer 6, John Jaso 3, David Freese 5, Jose Osuna 9, Chris Stewart 2, Barrett Barnes 7, Chris Bostick 4, RHP Trevor Williams 1.

Also pitching for Pirates: LH Steven Brault, LH Felipe Rivero, LH Tyler Webb, RH Casey Sadler.

 

>>> Monday’s game:  Pirates at Braves (4-10 heading into Sunday’s game), 1:05 p.m., Champion Stadium, Orlando. Radio: 93.7 The Fan

Braves: Lineup TBA. RHP Bartolo Colon

Also pitching for Braves: LH John Danks, RH Jim Johnson, RH Arodys Vizcaino, RH Luke Jackson

Pirates: Lineup TBA.  RHP Tyler Glasnow

Also pitching for Pirates: LH Wade LeBlanc, RH A.J. Schugel, LH Dan Runzler, RH Pat Light, RH Donvydas Nererauskas.

 

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at cadamski@tribweb.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

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