In the game recap in the PG this morning Dejan Kovacevic talks about a "boisterous discussion" between Gary Varsho, Lastings Milledge and Bobby Crosby after a blown hit and run in which Milledge was thrown out and Crosby didn't swing.
It was not clear who was at fault -- either player could have missed a sign -- but Varsho and Milledge became spirited enough that they had to be separated.
Apparently the two (Milledge and Varsho) also had words after Milledge failed to catch Michael Young's pop-fly triple in the seventh that eventually led to Texas tying the game.
After the game JR said it "was no big deal." It is a big deal. As I opined on my radio show this morning (shameless plug, 6-9 AM, FoxSports 970), Pirates' fans can deal with a lot. Obviously by just being fans we have dealt with a lot. The one thing I can't deal with is lack of hustle and continued fundamental mistakes.
While Milledge has finally started to come around with the bat and is hitting a robust .352/.417/.519 in June, his baserunning and outfield routes actually seem to have gotten worse. I am interested to hear more about what the flap was about on the hit and run. Milledge certainly ran, and did look back to the plate as if he expected the batter to swing, and was thrown out easily--causing Bob Walk to wonder how bad a jump he could have gotten.
With his past reputation, Milledge is the last guy one wants to see have issues with coaches. Getting thrown out at third earlier in the year on a ball to the left-center field wall made me question Milledge's speed and judgment as did both fly balls and his base running last night. Certainly Milledge has earned the opportunity to play every day, but seeing some other issues bubble to the surface, real or perceived, is concerning. After three months of the season I think Milledge may be a decent hitter, but with average power at best. He is a fair to poor outfielder with an average arm, and his speed is much less than initially believed. I would call it average at best for a 25 year old outfielder.
Along similar lines, it seems clear to me that over the past week Ronny Cedeno has lost his job. Coincidentally or not, this happened after a blow-up between him and Varsho during pregame drills. As his replacement, Crosby has done rather well at the plate the past week raising his average to around .270 while going 10 for 15 in his last four starts. But, he has made some costly errors during that stretch as well. JR has noted that he likes Crosby's experience in an infield with newcomers Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez on either side of him.
With Crosby at short it is worth nothing that the whole infield has now changed since opening day. With Jose Tabata in left, only two of the original eight penciled in as the "everyday" lineup remain in their original spot, although Jones and Milledge have changed positions.
For the first time, losing 15 of 17 and 14 in a row on the road seems to be taking its toll not just on the players, but the coaching staff as well. At the same time the front office has taken a big PR hit with the about face call-up of Alvarez, the breaking of the contract extensions of Neal Huntington and John Russell and the mistakes made in the acquisitions of Akinori Iwamura and Dana Eveland. Kovacevic talked about last weekend being the most tension he has seen around the club in his six years on the job.
I'm still optimistic about the club's longer-term plan, but with six more games on the road in Oakland and Chicago, Cedeno and Milledge seeming to have some issues with the staff and a pitching staff in tatters, I think there is a decent chance for all hell to break loose.