Pirates Need to Get the Bottom of the Lineup Going

Clint Barmes

PITTSBURGH, Pa. — When signing veterans Clint Barmes and Rod Barajas over the offseason, the Pirates expected more from them than the numbers they’ve put up so far this season. Barmes and Barajas also expected more out of themselves.

The Pirates need to get the bottom of the lineup going. Entering game action on Wednesday, the seventh spot has combined to hit for a .175/.213/.340 line this season, while the eighth spot has a .170/.250/.340 line.

“It’s a big part of what we need to do,” Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle said. “We don’t want a lineup that’s one through five, one through six. We need to be able to score runs from any point of the lineup. Obviously, we’ve had our challenges at seven and eight. These are two experienced guys that have fared better…They understand it. They’re not happy with it. They’re trying to combat it and figure out ways to improve, have more production, and do the things that they have been capable of doing in the past.”

“Collectively, it’s important individual to take better ownership from the time that they’re in the batters box. And that’s going to help the group, the whole team concept better off. It’s not so much as what I can do, but what can I do to make the guy’s job easier behind me while I’m up at the plate. That’s something we’ve talked about. There comes a point in time where we’ve got the action taken care of with it.”

Shortstop Clint Barmes signed a two-year deal with the Bucs over the offseason after the club decided to part ways with Ronny Cedeno. With neither Chase d’Arnaud or Jordy Mercer ready to play the big leagues everyday, the 33-year-old rejoined his former skipper Clint Hurdle in Pittsburgh.

“The biggest thing has been more mental than anything,” Barmes said of his adjustments. “Just relaxing in the box and trying not to do too much. Just try to slow the game down as much as possible. As far as the mechanics and tweaking with my swing, I’ve really just done some minor stuff, kind of where my hands have gone. I’m trying to take the tension out of my arms. That’s probably been the biggest thing. It seems like every year when I come in, I’ve changed something in my swing.”

“Just trying to find something that’s going to be consistent and something I can hold on to. I’ve tried just about everything you can try. Changing lanes, going from a high-leg kick to a no stride, open stance to a closed. I think I’ve got a pretty good understanding at this point where I’d like to be, where I need to be. It’s not really a lot of drastic changes. Just trying to find something that’s going to keep me relaxed, keep me loose…I think understanding what I need to do and just trusting it is the biggest thing.”

After going 0-for-3 with a strikeout in the Pirates 5-4 win on Tuesday, Barmes has a .159/.196/.307 line in 88 at-bats on the season. He has gone hitless over his last three starts (10 at-bats).

“It’s definitely been a grind,” Barmes said. “Coming into a new team, it would have been nice to get off to a great start. With the way that our pitching staff has been, that’s definitely frustrating as a position player. Not being able to put something together and be able to score runs, especially with the way they’ve thrown. We should definitely have a lot more wins on our record right now than what we have. I think everyone in here expects and knows that, and expects to do better.”

“Every team is going to go through this at one point in the season. For us, one thing to look at it is hopefully it’s behind us now and we’ve hit that spot early. We’ve got way too much talent in here to not score runs and to not be playing better baseball than we have.”

While trailing the National League Central by 5.5 games to the St. Louis Cardinals, the excuse that it’s ‘still early’ won’t fly with Manager Clint Hurdle.

“It’s not early. We’re 28 games into it,” Hurdle said prior to the game on Tuesday. “I’ve never been a guy to talk about it’s early, or it’s this or it’s that. It is what it is. We’ve got guys that I really believe that if things just calibrate themselves with the history that they’ve got, that things are going to get better. But there needs to be a professional urgency. Not a mindless scatter brain to make things happen that aren’t there. An energy to be focused, to be able to move upon mistakes, to be able to stay confident even when there’s no tangible evidence to be confident.”

Barajas was the hero in the Pirates walk off victory against the Washington Nationals on Tuesday. Trailing the Nats by one in the bottom of the ninth, Barajas picked the perfect time to connect for his first long ball of the season — which was a two-run shot to seal the win for the Bucs.

But prior to last night, Barajas has struggled at the plate. On Tuesday, the catcher entered action hitting for a .133/.200/.183 line in 60 at-bats. After putting a lot of extra work in recently, skipper Clint Hurdle has seen better swings in the cages.

“It can’t go on forever,” Hurdle said of Barajas’ struggles. “But actually, we got in the cage on Sunday and we tried doing a couple things. We put in another workday [Tuesday]. He’s been working. To see a man with that experience show up, to want to work early. You expect it, but it doesn’t always happen. The last two work days, we’ll see where it goes. They were just better, cleaner.”

“I’ve been doing a lot of work in the cage and I feel like I’m close,” Barajas said. “I feel like the swing is there. Now it’s just the matter of swinging balls in the strike zone. I felt like I kind of went out of the strike zone a little bit in the first two at-bats. I was just ready to hit just balls that weren’t located in my zone. I think once I get that ball, be a little more patient. Take advantage of the balls that they do throw in my spot. I think I’d be okay.”

While his bat has started off cold, the Pirates pitching staff has been very good for the club. The Pirates pitching is currently ranked eight-best in the National League (3.43 ERA). The list of arms that Barajas has caught over his 13-year big league career is impressive. Barajas has helped the young staff grow.

“That was the reason why we went to Rod Barajas, was his game calling, his presence, his maturity behind home plate. He’s helping our pitchers get through, not only innings, but at-bats. That’s his primarily responsibly for us,” General Manager Neal Huntington said on Sunday. “What he does with the bat is going to be our bonus. Sure, we’ve expected more at this point in time. He’s had some at-bats where he’s squared some balls up. He’s not had a lot of luck at this point in time…Rod is going to start finding grass here pretty soon. He’s going to start getting some luck that will work in his favor. He’ll just keep grinding.”

Enjoy this story? Pirates Prospects will be switching to a subscription site on 4/13, so that we can continue bringing you the best Pirates coverage there is. For a very small monthly price, you can continue getting articles like this, along with coverage from every minor league city. Get more information here, and subscribe today!

Share This Article

Exploring the Arsenal: Previewing the Nationals’ Probable Starting Pitchers

Next Story »

Daniel McCutchen Returns to Pittsburgh With Sharper Pitches

  • leadoff

    I still think that the pitchers the Pirates are hitting against are the real problem with the Pirate hitting. The Pirates see one to two aces every series, aces shut down average to below average hitters, that is why they are aces. The Pirates get their couple of runs most games, Ace pitchers give up a couple of runs most games, if the rest of the league can’t get more than one or two runs off of these guys, why would anyone think the Pirates should get more than one or two runs? When the rotations start to flip and the Pirates start some series off against some 3’s and 4’s, we will see if they hit!

    • john.alcorn

      We’ll test that theory tonight if the rain holds off. Detwiler is pitching way over his head thus far and is due for some serious regression.

      • leadoff

        Thanks for the reply, we will see how they do against Strasberg, the rest of the league has not done much.

  • dropkickmurphys

    I have to admit, I thought the B&B boys would going to bad but I didn’t think they would be historically bad.

    I think last night’s pinch hit for Barmes may have signaled the beginning of the end for the Barmes era. Its an era that cannot end soon enough.

Latest Analysis

  • Arquimedes Caminero

    Breaking Down the Final Pirates Roster Battles After Today’s Cuts

    19 hours ago

    With less than a week remaining in camp, the Pittsburgh Pirates made their latest round of cuts this morning, sending three relievers to minor league camp, including ...

    Read More
  • Keller Supak Hinsz

    Even With the New Draft Rules, the Pirates Are Still Loading Up on Projectable Pitchers

    2 days ago

    From 2008-2011, the Pittsburgh Pirates spent a lot of resources on projectable pitchers out of high school. So far, this approach has led to breakout performances from ...

    Read More
  • Josh Bell made the move to first base over the off-season. (Photo credit: David Hague)

    Why Should You Care About Prospects?

    4 days ago

    Yesterday I had a shorter day than usual. The Pirates had cuts at the MLB level, and a road game. The day was shortened at Pirate City, ...

    Read More
  • Gregory Polanco

    Q&A: Trading Prospects For Rentals, Polanco Concerns, Meadows vs Appel

    5 days ago

    I missed the Q&A last week due to a common problem in Spring Training: I forgot what day it was. It was around 6:00 that I was ...

    Read More
  • Nick Kingham f

    Improving His Two-Seam Fastball will Make Nick Kingham a More Effective Pitcher

    6 days ago

    With Jameson Taillon returning from Tommy John surgery, and unlikely to make an impact at the Major League level early in the year, the top prospect to ...

    Read More
  • Arquimedes Caminero 3

    The Roster Situations That Could Impact the Makeup of the Pirates Bullpen

    1 week ago

    There are less than two weeks remaining in Spring Training, and the one area where the Pittsburgh Pirates had actual position battles is heating up. There were ...

    Read More
  • Jordan Luplow

    How the Pirates are Trying to Stay Ahead of the Curve With the New Draft Rules

    1 week ago

    The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement brought a lot of changes to Major League Baseball. The biggest change for the Pittsburgh Pirates came in the draft. From 2008-2011, ...

    Read More
  • Alen Hanson

    The Key For Alen Hanson to Help the Pirates in the Majors This Year

    1 week ago

    When the Pittsburgh Pirates moved Alen Hanson to second base last year, part of the plan was to get him to the majors faster by putting him at ...

    Read More
  • Tyler Glasnow 2

    What the Stats Don’t Tell You About Tyler Glasnow

    2 weeks ago

    The stat line for Tyler Glasnow’s start at Pirate City yesterday looked great: 3 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. The lone run ...

    Read More
  • JaCoby Jones Josh Bell

    JaCoby Jones Did Fine in the Move to Shortstop, But Needs to Cut Down on Strikeouts

    2 weeks ago

    The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted JaCoby Jones as an outfielder in the third round of the 2013 draft, then surprised everyone the following year when they moved him ...

    Read More
  • Browse More Articles