Pirates Pregame: Mercer’s Role and Hurdle on Strasburg

Jordy Mercer will start at second base again today when the Pittsburgh Pirates host the Washington Nationals. Mercer, as many of you probably know by now, was called up Friday afternoon when Neil Walker was placed on the disabled list and hit what proved to be the game-winning home run in the fifth inning of the Pirates 3-1 win.

Jordy Mercer will start at second base for the Pirates on Saturday against the Nationals.

Jordy Mercer will start at second base for the Pirates on Saturday against the Nationals.

Mercer had been playing extremely well for Triple-A Indianapolis but almost exclusively as a shortstop. The common thought is that Mercer will be groomed as the club’s shortstop of the future, but Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said that for the time being Mercer’s role will be as a utility infielder.

“Those kind of thoughts and conversations would always be held internally and wouldn’t be shared until an appropriate time. Right now wouldn’t be an appropriate time,” Hurdle said. “He played a lot of second base in spring training and he played some third base in spring training. That was kind of the opportunity we gave him in camp to break with us as a spin utility guy. We have obviously a lot of good thoughts about Jordy and his opportunity to play shortstop in the future as we still do for Chase d’Arnaud as well.”

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Stephen Strasburg will start on the mound for Washington today, and in case you’ve been living under a rock or in a coma the last few years you already know he is pretty good at throwing a baseball.

This season, however, has gotten off to a rocky start for the former No. 1 overall pick. Strasburg enters Saturday’s game with a 1-4 record and experienced some discomfort in his pitching arm during his last start (Monday against Atlanta) but  was given the green light to go ahead with his next start after a Wednesday bullpen session.

The won-loss record is deceiving however, as the Nationals have given Strasburg next to nothing in terms of run support so far in 2013. Hurdle said the Washington ace has one of the special arms in baseball and threw out some pretty good names when comparing him to other pitchers he has seen develop.

“I’ve seen him once live and that was last year,” Hurdle said. “It’s a special arm and I try to at least pay attention to the person with the arm. He seems to have found his way and seems to know what he’s doing. He’s very athletic not just pitching but on the field, swinging the bat. Time will tell but it’s as good a young arm as we seen, for me, I saw Felix (Hernandez) kind of develop in Seattle in 2010. I was a part of watching (Dwight) Gooden’s development in the dugout back with the Mets.”

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Lineups:

Washington Nationals (15-15, 2nd place National League East)
1. Espinosa 2b
2. Desmond ss
3. Harder lf
4. Zimmerman 3b
5. LaRoche 1b
6. Moore rf
7. Ramos c
8. Bernadina cf
9. Strasburg p

Pittsburgh Pirates (17-12, 2nd place National League Central)
1. Marte lf
2. Snider rf
3. McCutchen cf
4. Jones 1b
5. Martin c
6. Alvarez 3b
7. Mercer 2b
8. Barmes ss
9. Locke p

Author: Tom Bragg

Tom Bragg is a beat writer and analyst for PiratesProspects.com. He is the former sports editor of the (Fairmont) Times West Virginian and has worked at the Charleston Gazette, Charleston Daily Mail and the (Ashland, Ky.) Independent. His freelance work has appeared in newspapers all over West Virginia and he has written for The Associated Press with stories posted to several major media outlets (ESPN.com, SportsIllustrated.com, FoxSports.com). Tom graduated from Marshall University in May 2010 with a degree in Print Journalism. Follow Tom on Twitter: @TomBraggSports

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  • http://twitter.com/frsthypocrit frsthypocrit

    “What are you going to do with Mercer?”

    Clint Hurdle: “We’re not telling…”

    • http://atung.net/ Steve Zielinski

      Hurdle grows more annoying by the day.

  • derekbellstutu

    Yoy insert a healthy Walker & sub Mercer for Barmes & that’s a damn good lineup!