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Hurdle: Tabata has "made a lot of progress"

Victor Decolongon

Notes from this afternoon's press scrum with Pirates' manager Clint Hurdle:

* Wandy Rodriguez did not throw a bullpen session today. He is scheduled for one tomorrow. He threw long toss today.

* Jose Tabata is “knocking the things off his ‘to do’ list,” Hurdle said, “He’s made a lot of progress. He seems to be in a good place physically.”

* A.J. Burnett threw bullpen on Tuesday. “His arm is up and moving. Our bigger concern is him being able to get off the mound.”

* The Pirates manager projects that Tony Watson’s evolution could eventually lead him to a back of the bullpen role: “I envision one day that he could be that guy. Definitely an 8th inning guy. We’d like to see that command be a hair bit more efficient.”

* On Harrison joining the big league club and Tony Sanchez being sent down: “We didn’t feel the need to have a third catcher. We thought we’d bring Josh’s versatility in, Presley was unable to be recalled” due to the 10 day window between call-ups for the same player.

It looks like Harrison may get a start or two in right field in the upcoming Phillies series: “We’ve tried to keep Presley and Harrison in play where they can add-in certain series more than others. He (Harrison) might work in the back end of this one, there’s two left-handed starters coming in for Philadelphia.”

* Hurdle likes the progress he is seeing in Gerrit Cole, especially when it comes to his pitch mix. The Pirates’ manager noted that in his last outing Cole showed “the ability to spin the ball showed up more, some changeups, not just against left-handers but right on right. Yeah, another step forward.”

* Hurdle said that it “really bothered” him how the team performed in games following an off day last season (by my quick count they were 7 and 10 in 2012). He mentioned that he sat down with Jeff Banister and bounced around some ideas how to change up things this season. “The main thing we’ve tried to do is recreate their mindset. Finish the series at hand” then “go home and be home.” “I’ve encouraged them to do stuff they wouldn’t normally do, especially on the road,” Hurdle continued, “whether it be group dynamic stuff or individual stuff.” Finally he mentioned that when the team returns home they take “old school infield.” Whether any of this has worked or made a difference, Hurdle said he didn’t know. So far this season the Pirates are undefeated in games following an off day.