Notes from this afternoon's press scrum with Clint Hurdle:
Vic Black PTBNL?
Ken Rosenthal reports that "it is a strong possibility." Black is currently on waivers and could clear Sunday. If Black were claimed by another team, the Pirates could pull him back and move him to New York after the season.
UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal reports that Vic Black is the PTBNL.
Neal Huntington said yesterday that the "Mets did a nice job in this trade," and Black would certainly represent a pretty nice return for them. However, from the Pirates' perspective, moving a reliever prospect for a clear upgrade on the Major League roster still makes the deal a good one for the Bucs.
Tony Sanchez has been optioned to Altoona. Hurdle explained that optioning Sanchez it was a way to get him some playing time and a way to "work with roster management." Since Altoona's season ends Monday, the Pirates won't lose Sanchez for the 10 days that they would if they sent him to Indianapolis, whose season runs longer. In short, Sanchez will likely return to Pittsburgh Tuesday.
UPDATE: The Pirates announced the Jeff Locke will also be optioned to Altoona. It is likely that he too will return Tuesday, but he will miss his Sunday start against the Cardinals.
Grilli throws 25 pitch sim-inning
Jason Grilli threw a sim-game/inning of 25 pitches this afternoon. Hurdle said that things "looked encouraging."
For his part, Grilli said that the outing involved "fine-tuning" and "throwing strikes to hitters." He added that his "arm strength is there" and he is not concerned about velocity: "It's like adding weights in the weight room," he said. "You can always add more weight."
The Pirates' closer said that he is confident that he could jump in and get outs in the Majors right now. But, he admitted, that was his "confidence talking." For now, he is going to take it "day-by-day" and "not do anything stupid."
During the sim-inning he allowed one hit to Josh Harrison. "Got his confidence up, right?" Grilli joked.
Wilson limited to one inning per appearance
With all the conversation on the site about Hurdle's management of the bullpen in last night's game, this afternoon I asked him if he originally intended to have Justin Wilson go more than one inning, or if he wanted to go with Bryan Morris in the eighth all along. While he didn't address the Morris part of the question, which is the reasoning that we're all interested in hearing, he did have something interesting to say about Wilson. On reflection I probably could have framed the question better, but this is what we got:
We are not pushing Wilson past single innings right now. Based on workload; based on conversations with him. So, no, one inning is his maximum load right now with everything he has taken on this year.
Wandy Rodriguez update
The Pirates have announced that Rodriguez was examined by Dr. James Andrews in Florida on Tuesday. The exam confirmed "inflammation in the left forearm region." He is expected to resume throwing in the next couple of days.
Harrison batting leadoff tonight; Tabata eighth
In somewhat of a surprise move (at least to me), Josh Harrison will leadoff tonight with Tabata moved all the way down to eighth. Hurdle explained the reason for the slotting as follows: "The on base percentage and all-around numbers against left-handed pitching. There're significantly different."
Not that it matters all that much (though I'd prefer Tabata leadoff given the choice) the difference to which Hurdle is referring only exists in a small one-year sample size.
Tabata: 2013 v. LHP: 187 PA, 268/.293/.464 - career: 354 PA, .261/.338/.399
Harrison: 2013 v. LHP: 27 PA, .444/.444/.815 - career: 175 PA, .246/.265/.423
Byrd batting fourth
Marlon Byrd will make his Pirates' debut in right field and bat fourth. Hurdle said Byrd's numbers against left-handed pitchers (.345/.383/.597) "speak for themselves."
Hurdle likes the way Byrd plays the game
Hurdle on Marlon Byrd:
I had spoken with him a couple times earlier this year because I liked the way he played the game. The way he played against our team. And I've found ways to tell people that I appreciate the way they play the game. Certain guys that play the game the way I still respect. I will go out of my way to tell guys that. He's been one of them.
Travis Snider update
Hurdle said that he just talked Snider on Monday and that he is "feeling better" and "making progress on the defensive and offensive side of the ball."