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Hurdle: Mark Melancon 'touch and feel' for Sunday vs. Braves

Justin K. Aller

Here are some of the highlights and extended excerpts from Clint Hurdle's scrum with reporters this morning:

After pitching the eighth inning of a game in which the Pirates were ahead 6-0 Friday night, Hurdle said that Mark Melancon is "touch and feel" for today's game.

When asked about Russell Martin showing James McDonald a video of the pitcher striking out a bunch of hitters ("The Strikeout Video") before last night's game, Hurdle observed that "It does speak to the volume of the guys here. The care, they care about their teammates." However, Hurdle was quick to emphasize that when it comes to James McDonald he is more concerned about what "James does rather than what James says."

Finally, on what the significance, if any, of taking three of four from baseball's hottest team would be, Hurdle responded that it would mean "we have a team capable of beating a very good team when they're hot."

Extended excerpts from this morning's media scrum:

Melancon's availability today?

Mark's going to go on touch and feel. The nice thing about Mark is the efficiency of the pitches: gave up that single last night then he kept the ball in the infield. He threw 12 last night, and then eight the night before. We'll check on him. And then everybody else is good to go.

Reaction to Liriano's start last night in Double-A

He did more throwing than pitching last night. Fastball 90-94. Slider 84-87. Changeup 84-86. So, he was outside of himself, hence the 67 pitches in two and two-thirds innings. ...

I really don't care a whole lot right now [about the results from rehab assignment]. I wasn't overly impressed by six punch outs in three innings in the Florida State League. ... So, our challenge and his challenge is to keep his mind on the task at hand and not the line two weeks down. Or the first start back in the big leagues. And I think probably last night he might have got caught up a little bit in that, from what I understand.

On Russell Martin showing James McDonald a video of him striking a bunch of hitters - "The Strikeout Video"

Russell's not an old dog, but he's got some tricks. Not specifically that's a trick, but he's got weapons, different ideas and different programs that he's seen put in play, whether he's put them in play or he's seen other people put them in play. He's been in some tradition-rich organizations where you also get some great experience from older players that come in. ... it does speak to the volume of the guys here. The care, they care about their teammates. They exhaust everything they can to try to help their teammates. We heard they were going to go about it. Go for it! I don't need to be part of that. I do my thing, they need to do their thing and hopefully we'll get the thing right.

But, at the end of the day, it's going to be more about what James does than what James says. I like the step he took last night.