Notes from this afternoon's press scrum:
-P- Hurdle on Marte: "If he can't play by Cincinnati, we'll post him up (place him on the disabled list)." Marte strained his rib cage sliding head first into second base on a stolen base attempt Wednesday night.
-P- Brandon Cumpton will make his Major League debut tonight. Watching a player make his first appearance in the Majors is "one of the best parts of the job," Hurdle said. "You know what's going on. The memory he is going to have of this game. It's special and I appreciate this part of the game as much as any part of the game. Giving these guys the opportunity to go out and fulfill a lifelong dream, or a childhood dream. It's pretty cool."
-P- Even though Cumpton’s start is not generating the buzz that Cole’s start did, as evidenced by number of media that showed up at today’s press scrum, Hurdle said that it was still a "huge deal" to a lot of people inside the organization:
It’s a huge deal to him. Organizationally speaking, the scout that signed him, our player development people, it’s a huge deal. There’s going to be guys all over this TV throughout our minor league system. They’ve already called me and talked to me. Within our own house, this is another graduation day. That’s what it is. Another graduation day to see how it turns out.
-P- It appears that an important variable that tipped the balance in Cumpton’s favor over other options in the system was that it was his day to pitch: “Let’s be very factual: it was his day to pitch. … There’s a handful of guys you talk about, they can’t make the start.” Hurdle added, “And he was pitching more effectively than anybody else. Of the other couple names that were considered. There was separation in what he had done his last seven or eight starts, compared to the other names (that were considered).”
-P- Andy Oliver was the odds-on favorite to be called up among the few people that I talked to in the press box after word came down that A.J. Burnett would miss his start. When asked about why Oliver was not given the start (he would have been eligible, as he was scheduled to start last night and could have easily been pushed back a day), Hurdle said, “Andy was one of the names we did discuss. Command has not been his friend. A much better outing last night, although a 109 pitches through five innings, three walks. Three games before that were five or more walks every game.” The Pirates manager noted that there is a “translation” between Triple-A numbers to Major League numbers. “Five walks is going to be more than five walks (in the Majors); 109 pitches is going to be more than 109 pitches.”
-P- Finally the last word on Clint Hurdle’s decision to pull Jeff Locke last night after he had pitched seven scoreless innings and thrown only 78 pitches. In light of the interest in the topic, I’m going to provide the manager’s full response:
It had nothing to do with Locke’s innings. It had nothing to do with him coming up (Cumpton). It had everything to do with him walking seven last time out, and pitching his backside off through seven and Melancon needs to get back in and play.
And there is something I use at the end of the night. I need to make a decision I can sleep with. For me, last night, bringing Melancon in, and if the game gets away from us, I can sleep with that one. Leaving Jeff out there and then figuring out when to get him out and go from there, I can’t sleep with that one last night.
I’d love Jeff to have that outing again next time because I love pushing these guys out there, especially with that pitch count. To pitch the eighth, to pitch the ninth, that’s the next step for us.
That’s the way I felt last night.