Pirates Notebook: Updates on Morton, Liriano, Karstens
Greetings from Dodger Stadium, where it should be another beautiful Los Angeles night. Here’s a link to Friday’s recap if you missed it.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle provided updates on some of the team’s injured pitchers:
- Charlie Morton (elbow) will throw two innings in an extended game Monday after a 36-pitch bullpen session Friday.
- Francisco Liriano (broken humerus in right arm) threw 3o pitches in two innings of live batting practice Friday. The left-hander will pitch a side session Sunday, followed by two innings in a simulated game Wednesday.
- Jose Contreras (elbow), who remains 41 years old, threw 20 pitches in an inning of work Friday. After a side session Sunday, he will throw two innings in an extended game Wednesday.
- Jeff Karstens (shoulder) threw on flat ground Saturday afternoon.
I told Karstens about former Pirates pitcher Daniel McCutchen receiving a 50-games suspension for violating MLB’s banned substance policy. Karstens and McCutchen were roommates for a time with the Pirates.
“I don’t think he would knowingly do that,” Karstens said.
Gomez okay after shot to ribs
X-rays on the ribs of Jeanmar Gomez came back negative after he caught a line drive between his right forearm and his ribs to end his three scoreless innings Friday night.
Tim Bowers tweeted this Vine video of the line drive at Gomez. He even cracked a smile after seeing he caught the liner.
Gomez said he “didn’t feel it immediately” when he trapped the line drive off Adrian Gonzalez’s bat, but felt some pain afterwards that caused trainers to take a second look. The right-hander was going to sit out Saturday and Sunday after throwing 33 pitches.
Friday night was a successful beginning to his new phase as a reliever. Entering this season, Gomez made 180 starts in the majors and minors, but only six relief appearances. The difference in preparation, Gomez says, is exemplified by the 15 pitches he throws out of the bullpen before an appearance compared to 35-40 for a start, and also watching games out of the bullpen instead of the dugout.
Cutch has success against Kershaw
The Pirates have barely produced any offense through four games (last in baseball in runs, batting average and OPS), so naturally they get the luck of facing the pitcher who has led the National League in ERA each of the last two seasons, Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw.
“You have to be ready for the fastball. If you’re not ready for that, then you’re kind of out of luck from there on,” Andrew McCutchen said. “You step in the box, looking for something to drive out over the plate.”
The center fielder (5-for-14, HR vs. Kershaw) is one of two Pirates players to have some degree of success against the former Cy Young Award winner in a small sample size. Shortstop Clint Barmes, in Saturday’s lineup, is 7-for-25 in his career with a .357 on-base percentage.
McCutchen has also taken five of the Pirates’ six steal attempts this season, but was thrown out for the first time in the 7th inning Friday night. Hurdle says he has a green light on the basepaths, but McCutchen fielder knows he has to pick his spots.
“It has to do with a lot of things,” McCutchen said, “Looking to get a good jump, have a good lead, getting to the next bag and being confident.”
Why did Harrison stay in?
A few folks were asking why Clint Hurdle kept Josh Harrison in to play shortstop after he pinch-hit in the top of the 8th, instead of defensive specialist John McDonald.
“We were going to put McDonald in if we had scored runs and stringed the inning out,” Hurdle said. “We probably would have defended more strongly. But we’re three runs down, there still might be an opportunity where I could hit for somebody else in the lineup and used McDonald to go in for defense.”
Good luck doing that against Kershaw. Since 2010, the left-hander leads all pitchers in Stolen Base Runs Saved runs above average, a Fielding Bible stat for preventing base stealing.
Hurdle meets with Scully
I had the privilege of shaking hands with Dodgers’ play-by-play announcer Vin Scully. I was going to write “legendary” in front of his name, but “legendary” seems so inadequate. Scully needs no adjective.
Anyway, Scully meets with Hurdle for a 10-minute conversation every time the manager in Los Angeles, a fact that Hurdle says “blows me away.”
So now, Storytime with Clint Hurdle. He was playing for the New York Mets when his first daughter Ashley was born on a Friday night. Hurdle was scratched from the lineup, but returned the next day for the Saturday Game of the Week with Scully on the call. It was July 20, 1985 at Shea Stadium.
The Mets were up 14-2 on the Braves, and Hurdle came to the plate for his first at-bat of the game, and hit a home run off pitcher Gene Garber.
“That will buy some Talcum powder for Ashley Lauren Hurdle,” Scully said on the broadcast.
Hurdle called it “a priceless memory for the rest of her life and mine.” He called Scully to thank him, and has chatted with the announcer on every L.A. trip since.