Pregame: Clint Hurdle discusses Pedro's hit and Cards starting pitcher Shelby Miller

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

This afternoon an upbeat and jocular Clint Hurdle met with reporters and answered questions on a wide range of topics.

Of particular note:

The Pirates announced Wandy Rodriquez will make his start Friday against the Braves.

Hurdle was asked about why James McDonald was throwing in the bullpen earlier today. Clint replied that it was just "structured work ... working for that solid degree of repeat-ability and consistency." No health-related reasons were mentioned.

When asked about Pedro getting "good wood" on the ball last night, Hurdle jokingly suggested that maybe next year "we don’t play him until the third week of April. (laughter) I don’t think that’d go over very well. I was thinking about that today just trying to make myself chuckle about some things and I was thinking, maybe if we just broke him out about the 16th or 17th, after taxes (laughter)." Clint also mentioned that Pedro’s hit last night recorded the highest velocity (111 mph) of a ball off the bat this season for the Pirates.

Finally, when discussing what he knew about Shelby Miller, Hurdle seemed to hint at an aggressive approach to the running game tonight, "So, we’ll see if we can give him some challenges he’s not had, he hasn’t had to work much on his control the running game program."

Below are some additional excerpts from the media scrum:

Did rain out change the rotational plans?

No it doesn’t. No. We’re going to go as is. ... The day of rest will obviously strengthen our bullpen situation. There’s a positive there.

James McDonald was throwing in the bullpen this afternoon: is this normal work? is he working on something? checking something out?

He’s doing structured work. ... They’re all involved in throwing program where they do flat-ground throwing, then they all have from anywhere from at least one to sometimes two structured sessions to work on the mechanics of their delivery, where they get their power, how they set their foundation. ... Yes, so there are some specifics involved just like there were for Jonathan coming into this start and unfortunately in the first inning he wasn’t where he needed to be the second inning he got right back to a better place. ... We got a couple guys who are still working for that solid degree of repeatability and consistency with their deliveries. James is one of them.

Much needed to get a day to rest yesterday?

It’s 4-2, Jonathan’s not going to go back out on the mound, Mazzaro going to be back on the mound, we’re going to have to cover seven innings, at least. So, would have that been challenging? Probably to some degree, but Vince can get us to the fifth, or the sixth, I mean then we have a full boat, we got Watson, we got Melancon, and we got Grilli so, I’ll take the night. I think we’ll all take the night and we’ll move on. Make the best of what you get. I tell my kids, "You get what you get; don’t throw a fit."

Good to see Alvarez get good wood on the ball last night, maybe something to hold onto to?

Yeah, maybe Petey and I need to talk next year, where we don’t play him until the third week of April (laughter). I don’t think that’d go over very well. I was thinking about that today just trying to make myself chuckle about some things and I was thinking, maybe if we just broke him out about the 16th or 17th, after taxes (laughter). ... Yeah, it was great to see, it’s left of center field, it’s hit extremely hard. You know, actually, the measuring thing? You know I love to talk about how much we love to measure things, they actually have a gun read, a measure of velocity of the ball off the bat and I think Petey had the highest number last year at 116 and the ball last night was 111 which has been the highest this year. Now how you transform that into meaning? I don’t know other than it’s really hard. Hit really, really hard. Hardest one we’ve hit this year.

What do you know about Shelby Miller?

Big arm, live arm, got off to a really good start. So he’s due not to do good, kind of the way I look at things. Kind of like the Braves rotation coming into town, they’re about to cough it up (laughter) ... good carry to his fastball, exceptional finish. The velocity, it’s not 98, but it’s firm 90s, 93-94, there’s some finish to it. He likes to pitch up in the zone so that means there’s some finish to it when you can pitch up in the zone and don’t get hit and it’s not 95 to 98. He likes to mix in the curveball, he’ll also throw a changeup. Basically it’s fastball, curveball to right handers, and the curveball is the wipe-out pitch. He’ll mix in the changeup to left-handers as well. So, we’ll see if we can give him some challenges he’s not had, he hasn’t had to work much on his control the running game program. 12 strike outs in 12 innings, so this will be a good challenge for us.

James McDonald appears to be pitching backward more this season, is that by design or a pitcher lacking confidence in his fastball?

When they don’t do good it looks like they’re lacking confidence. When they do well, like he did last season a couple of times ... then it looks like a confident guy that’s got command. You pick the one you want to go with, that’s what we’ve seen from James.

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