Phil Irwin will make his major league debut today for the Pittsburgh Pirates, the club announced this morning. Irwin won 29 games in five seasons of minor league competition, and while wins and losses are not necessarily a good barometer for the developmental process in the minors, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Irwin’s presence made his teammates better which translated to success on the field.
“There comes a point in time where guys, their presence makes people around them better,” Hurdle said. “I think in the minor leagues his presence on the mound, the stability he brought them on the mound — guys played better behind him. You don’t trick yourself into 29 wins.”
Irwin’s promotion to Pittsburgh comes at the expense of Josh Harrison, who was optioned to Indianapolis this morning. Harrison departure will leave the Pirates’ bench thin for at least a few days.
“We had to make a decision to go one way or the other and we chose to keep the bullpen in tact,” Hurdle said. “It’s not an easy decision but it’s one that we’ve made and we feel it gives us the protection where we most need to have it. ”
Hurdle also gave an update on Brandon Inge in his pregame meeting with the media Sunday morning. He said Inge played both games of a doubleheader yesterday at Indianapolis and that Inge is continuing to shag balls in the outfield. Hurdle also said work at first base and another, yet-to-be determined position were still to come.
“The at-bats have gotten better,” Hurdle said. “He hit his second home run last night. He’s going through another spring training in a non-spring training environment.”
Cincinnati (5-6, tied for 2nd NL Central)
1. Choo cf
2. Cozart ss
3. Votto 1b
4. Phillips 2b
5. Bruce rf
6. Frazier 3b
7. Heisey lf
8. Hanigan c
9. Latos p
Pittsburgh (5-6, tied for 2nd NL Central)
1. Marte lf
2. Snider rf
3. McCutchen cf
4. Jones 1b
5. Walker 2b
6. Alvarez 3b
7. McKenry c
8. McDonald ss
9. Irwin p
— Travis Snider moves up to hit second today, with Neil Walker sliding down to the No. 5 spot. Michael McKenry will give Russell Martin the day off behind the plate and hit seventh while John McDonald will give Clint Barmes a break and hit eighth. For the Reds, Brandon Phillips returns to the lineup after missing Saturday’s game for personal reasons.