Notes from this afternoon’s press scrum:
A.J. not happy with defensive shifts
There was a bit of a scene in the Pirates’ clubhouse before today’s game. When KDKA’s Bob Pompeani approached A.J. Burnett to discuss the words he exchanged with Clint Barmes during yesterday’s game, the Pirates’ pitcher abruptly walked away from Pompeani and turned to the rest of the assembled press in the room and shouted: "Listen, I did not have a problem with Clint! I do not have a problem with Clint! I had a problem with the f****** shift! We play people in the wrong spot!" A.J. continued to shout as he stormed off to the weight room.
Two of his teammates showed signs of solidarity and faux anger by tossing equipment and shouting, "Yeah!" One player, however, seemed quite serious and wondered why the press was trying to create "divisions on a 82-83 win team." (The Pirates have actually won 84 games.)
It should be noted that about an hour before A.J.’s outburst, Clint Barmes calmly answered reporters' questions about yesterday’s incident, and shifts in general, for about 20 minutes and without incident.
Hurdle comments regarding yesterday’s incident between Barmes and Burnett
What’s a big issue in here isn’t the same as what’s a big issue out there. Basically, it’s done. It was done yesterday by the time everybody got in the clubhouse. What people immediately try to do is read lips. Some of them were so inaccurate; some of them had no clue. Actually the conversation at the end was, "All right, I’m going to get you another one. All right, get me." What they’re saying doesn’t match up with what people think they’re saying. It’s a done deal.
Morton will start tomorrow
Clint Hurdle confirmed that Charlie Morton is "good to go" tomorrow.
Wandy Rodiguez threw five innings and 67 pitches in a simulated game this afternoon. Clint Hurdle said that he thinks that the left-hander is getting close to returning to the roster, but he will know more tomorrow
Starling Marte participated in this afternoon’s simulated game, taking a few at bats against Wandy Rodriguez. While I was watching, he took three pitches and fouled a couple off. His swings could best be described as tentative and lacking in explosiveness.
Asked about Marte’s status, Hurdle said, "Physically he is good to run, we had him in the game yesterday playing defense, and his throwing is back in place. The last piece is swinging the bat aggressively."
Grilli being worked "back into his role"
It appears Jason Grilli will eventually be the Pirates' closer again this season.
Hurdle was asked if Grill was still the guy he wanted to be the closer or if he'd rather not mess with the success they've had with Melancon in the role:
No, we're trying to work Jason back into his role. We spoke today and I anticipate using him in the seventh and eighth inning with a lead now. We want to ramp up the adrenaline, get him in more positions he's pitched in the past. I think each outing it's got a little bit better. I think there is still some finishing touches to it. I wanted to get him in a mindset of knowing when he's going out there: seventh or eighth inning with a lead, depending on the lineup.