This afternoon, Clint Hurdle spoke to Tony Sanchez and made it clear to him that he wasn't being sent down to Indianapolis because of anything performance-related.
"I told him he was going back simply because of player allocation," Hurdle said. "He did nothing but add value to his position as a player within our organization throughout Spring Training and while he was here. He needs to go down there and be a guy."
Hurdle said it wasn't "feasible" to carry three catchers on the roster.
Sanchez's return to Indianapolis creates an interesting situation in terms of allocating playing time between him and Elias Diaz.
"Neal (Huntington) and I have talked about setting up a (playing time) model for them follow down there," Hurdle said. "We want to continue to cultivate Diaz. We want Tony to play. So that will work itself out."
Hurdle added he thought the best way to build rhythm for the two catchers was to go with a two-day on, two-day off schedule.
There are no immediate plans to give Sanchez starts at first base because they want to give Hunter Morris, who was just acquired from the Brewers, an opportunity to play.
"We'll talk about his comfort zone (at first base) down the road, if that provides a better opportunity," Hurdle said.
McCutchen to bat cleanup
Andrew McCutchen will bat in the cleanup spot tonight. Of his 120 career plate appearances in the four-hole, 115 came during the 2011 season, with the other five coming on June 2, 2013.
"I'm looking forward to seeing [him bat there]," Clint Hurdle said. "This isn't something I'm looking to anchor in, but I thought tonight with the absence of [Neil] Walker we'd rearrange things a little bit."
An off day for Walker; a start for Rodriguez
Neil Walker is getting his day off of the season. Hurdle said that Walker is one of the players he is going to try to piggyback off days for this season.
Sean Rodriguez will get his first start of the season and play second.
"He's a backyard ballplayer," Hurdle said. "There is no place on the field that I would not feel comfortable playing him, except for maybe on the mound."
A day off to reset the offense
It's no secret that the Pirates offense has been slow out of the gates this season. The team's .593 OPS and 66 wRC+ both rank second-to-last in the majors. Hurdle was asked if he thought the day-off might help recalibrate the offense:
"I think a transference of concentration and focus can help," Hurdle said. "Your confidence is so critical at this level. I've encouraged them to just be relentless and steadfast and stubborn with their approach."
Liz says that Korean baseball similar to Triple-A
Radhames Liz spent three seasons in the Korean Baseball Organization before signing a minor league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2014. When I asked him today to compare the KBO to Major League Baseball's minor league systems, he said that it is a very difficult comparison because the game is played so differently.
"There is a lot more bunting," Liz said. "It is 50-50 that they will bunt with a man on first, or even when he gets over to second. The third batter might bunt in the second or third inning."
But if he had to give an answer he thinks that it probably compares favorably with Triple-A.
"You will find people that can play in the bigs over there," he said.
"You got one here," I said.
"Exactly. Right? Exactly," Liz laughed.