Notes from this afternoon's meeting with Pirates manager Clint Hurdle
*A.J. Burnett will start Sunday vs. the Cubs.
Hurdle said that A.J. looked “really sharp” in his simulated game and bullpen sessions. He added that he did not think that the situation called for sending him down to throw a rehab game. “We feel confident that his experience, the adrenalin of pitching in Wrigley, he’s had some success pitching here, all of it combined … he’ll be in a very competitive state.”
* The rotation for the weekend is: Liriano today; Morton tomorrow; Burnett Sunday. The Oakland series lines up: Locke, Cole, and Liriano.
* The Pirates will face Jeff Samardzija for the fourth time this afternoon. They are 2-1 vs. the Cubs' right-hander, the one loss came on Opening Day. In his three starts vs. the Pirates this year Saramadzija’s line is: 21 innings pitched, 13 hits, five runs, three walks, 24 strikeouts, 2.14 ERA, .466 OPS against.
“If this guy’s got his package: that hard sink with command, the hard slider, the split, it’s a very difficult task,” Hurdle said of Sarmadzija, “the other guy that showed up last time, that we were able to chase in the middle of the game, we can take care of that guy.”
* Hurdle thinks that both Melancon and Grilli “absolutely” deserve a spot on the All-Star team. Speaking to the chances of an "eighth inning guy" like Melancon making the team, Hurdle said that for a long time managers of All Star games had filled out their bullpens with closers but that starting in 2008, when he was the manager of the National League, things began to change. “Back in 2008, I think was the first time that there was a heightened awareness (of the role of the eighth inning specialist)” Hurdle said, “I think some guys did revisit the fact that if you get four guys that are closers, then you’re asking a closer to pitch in the seventh or eighth inning and that’s not something they’re accustomed to doing. … When I was the manager in ’08 I specifically looked at eighth inning guys. … There is a role for an eighth inning guy on an All Star team.”
* Finally Hurdle made an interesting comment on behalf of Starling Marte for the All Star Game. “If you’re going to talk about Puig, why don’t you talk about Marte? Different context, but this guy’s been here a whole half.”