I went to the press briefing yesterday and a couple of things to pass along:
1.) The reason I went is I wanted to ask specifically if, on Sunday in Houston, Clint considered using Joel Hanrahan to start the 8th inning. This was not about getting a 6-out save. It had to do with the fact that the Astros had Keppinger, Pence and Lee, clearly the Astros best three hitters, due up and Keppinger and Pence had been killing the Pirates in the series and seemingly all season. Did he consider using his best against their best, something clearly unconventional in today's baseball world where the closer's role is so clearly defined?
“I actually thought about it yesterday,” Hurdle said.” But I hadn’t had the conversation with the players before so it was a moot point. I’m pretty opened minded, and not everybody else is that open minded. Sometimes that kind of conflict is, as far as thought process, can lock some people up and challenge some people. You’d like to think it’s no big deal, but in my experience tells me that with some people it is no big deal, other people it’s a big deal. You got to have the conversation intentionally. You got to make sure you communicate with your personnel first.” (Thanks to Kristy Robinson of OVA for saving me the effort of transcribing.)
My Take: The point here is if you are ever going to do it, that was the time and at least Clint said he did consider it. The swiftness of his response to the question convinced me he had and I thought the answer was reasonable. I will, at some point in the near future, follow up and ask if he has since talked to Joel and any of the other relievers about it.
2.) I asked what role he saw for Pearce when he was activated and if we might see him before Friday.
Hurdle said Pearce gives good at bats. He felt that he was only a little more than half the way to the at bats they envisioned him getting because they wanted him to get "a volume" of at bats because of the duration of his injury (he had 18 at bats going into Monday night, so I'm guessing they wanted 30). He said he could see starts at third, first and right.
My Take: My guess is that when Pearce comes up on Friday, Harrison goes down. Pearce is going to get a chance to play. NH said on Sunday something to the effect that the third base job is there for the taking, but I also expect Pearce to get starts against lefties at first. Pearce will get 4-5 starts a week if he is hitting and will take at bats from Overbay and Diaz, with Wood still getting some starts at third.
3.) Hurdle added that Tabata would not play for Bradenton on Monday night.
My Take: This isn't a neck tweek that set Pedro back for a day or two during his rehab. This injury is related to the injury that put him on the DL in the first place. Tightness in Tabata's legs is certainly better than a strain, but this kind of thing can take anywhere from 3-7 days generally just to get to the point where he has full range of motion to stretch and start running again. I'm totally guessing on this, but I would suggest when Tabata starts playing games again you can put a 10-day to two week timetable on his return. He will certainly get similar time in Indianapolis, as discussed with Pearce above, to get a volume of at bats. This uncertainty makes Huntington's job at the deadline a little more difficult.