Notes from this afternoon's press meeting with Clint Hurdle:
Pirates, Buck and Byrd all "excited" about the trade
Hurdle said that Marlon Byrd brings a "middle-of-the-lineup bat" and that John Buck is a veteran who adds catching depth and has worked with some "good staffs."
We're excited about the opportunity that both men have coming our way. They're excited as well. I talked to both a little while ago. One's an impactful bat. Significant numbers verses left-handed pitching, which is an area we've been looking to improve upon and strengthen.
Byrd to take over full-time duties in right field?
It appears that Hurdle intends to give Byrd the starting position in right field. He said that he will "look for opportunities to include Jose [Tabata]" once Starling Marte returns. Tabata has done a "pretty solid job" leading off, Hurdle says, but "Byrd is going to get an opportunity to swing that bat and make a difference for us, I'll tell you that."
Byrd brings flexibility to the lineup
Byrd's addition will obviously have a ripple effect on the Pirates' lineup. In particular, it may mean moving Russell Martin out of a power spot in the lineup and back to a more bat control slot. Hurdle said they would "revisit" moving Martin up in the order, perhaps to the number two, especially against left-handed pitchers.
In the short-term, Tabata will continue to lead off
In Marte's absence, look for Jose Tabata to continue to bat leadoff and play left field. "I don't have many other options, to be quite frank, in terms of a leadoff hitter," Hurdle said, "I don't want to throw something against the wall and hope it sticks." Hurdle added that there were a couple games on the road trip that Tabata showed really "good stuff."
Acquiring John Buck is about adding depth, not a sign of a lack of trust in Tony Sanchez
Hurdle said that the acquisition of Buck was not a reflection on Tony Sanchez. Rather, it was about adding depth at the position and giving the Pirates the opportunity to put Sanchez's bat in play more often. Acquiring Buck brings a "sense of calm," Hurdle said.
"Come September we got three catchers and it also frees Tony's bat up," said Hurdle. "There were couple of times I would have loved to push Tony's bat out there (to pinch hit)" but couldn't because of fears of Martin getting injured and being stuck putting a position player in to catch.
Is Jeff Locke pitching for his spot tonight?
Hurdle gave less than an unqualified vote of confidence in Jeff Locke. Asked if he was pitching for his "next start" tonight, Hurdle responded, "We'll see." He added, "We take it one game at a time. We're at the point of the season when you start running out of games. ... You want to make sure you're giving your team every opportunity to have the best guys out there."
To make room on the 40 man roster, the Pirates have designated Russ Canzler for assignment and Kyle McPherson has been recalled and added to the 60-day disabled list.