Brandon Inge

Pirates Notebook: A’s Speak Highly of Inge, Alvarez Not in Derby

Brandon Inge

Brandon Inge starts at second base for the second straight day. (Photo by: David Hague)

The Oakland Athletics start a three-game series against the Pirates tonight at PNC Park, arriving 9-0 against the Bucs and the only Major League team that is undefeated against one opponent. They swept the Pirates in their only Pittsburgh series in 2002 and also pulled off home sweeps in 2004 and 2010.

This interleague series also reunites the A’s with former third baseman Brandon Inge, who hit for a .675 OPS with Oakland last year and played on a team that was 46-28 when he appeared in a game. Brandon suffered a right shoulder injury in September and didn’t play in the team’s push to the AL West title.

Though Inge is struggling mightily for the Pirates (.214 OBP, .464 OPS) and is starting in two straight games for the first time in a month Monday night, A’s manager Bob Melvin praised Inge’s veteran ability to help younger teammates with his Inge-tangibles.

“He’s a great fit in the clubhouse and he was well-liked here,” Melvin said. “He was a great fit for us. I’m sure that’s one of the reasons they brought him in here was the presence he brings.”

Even without Inge supplying offense for the Pirates, the team maintains a tied-for-league-best record of 53-34, and A’s outfielder Brandon Moss liked that the infielder kept teammates loose even when he was injured, calling Inge one of his favorite teammates.

“For a younger team that was going down the stretch, that was welcomed.”

Both Melvin and Moss noted Inge’s knack for important hits in clutch situations. When Inge doesn’t have a bat in his hands, he’ll have a hockey stick. Inge was seen roller blading around the Pirates’ clubhouse, and he would play hockey with teammates outside the Oakland clubhouse last year as well.

“He’s tough as nails,” Moss said. “He’s one of those guys that doesn’t take himself too seriously and enjoys every day he has in the game. A lot of guys can learn from that.”

Former A’s pitcher Brandon McCarthy said in March that Inge makes guys comfortable in a way that “trickles down” to the rest of the team. The Pirates, at least in my opinion, may need to see more on the field than off to keep the infielder on the club for the rest of the season.

Pedro Alvarez Not Selected for HR Derby

Mets’ third baseman made his selections for next Monday’s Home Run Derby as the National League captain: the Rockies’ Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer as well as the Nationals’ Bryce Harper. Conspicuously absent are the Phillies’ Domonic Brown (2nd in the NL in home runs) and the Pirates’ Pedro Alvarez (3rd in home runs).

Pedro Alvarez

Alvarez’s 22 home runs were not enough to make the Derby squad at Citi Field. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

It seems leaving Alvarez off the roster was all Wright’s decision, as Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said before the announcement he would “have no problem” with Alvarez swinging for the fences in New York.

“It could be a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” Hurdle said.

Instead, it looks like Alvarez will watch from the sidelines as other hitters swing for the Derby championship in his hometown.

“Will somebody explain to me how the hell Pedro [Alvarez] is not in the Homerun Derby?” pitcher A.J. Burnett tweeted. “Does the National League not wanna win?

Walker Day-to-Day

Second baseman Neil Walker is still experiencing soreness in his right side, though he said is feeling “a little better.” Walker took some swings and felt okay after suffering the injury Saturday in Chicago. He has not and will not undergo an MRI.

Plan for Cole, Locke

Starting pitcher Jeff Locke starts Game 1 of this A’s series and is scheduled to start Sunday for the Pirates in their last game before the break. Locke is not likely to pitch in the All-Star Game on one day of rest, though he is allowed to pitch one inning if he wants.

Gerrit Cole will make only one more start before the All-Star Break, taking the mound Tuesday night. Hurdle said the Pirates are “mindful” of the rookie’s innings, as he has totaled 98 this season and has never thrown more than 132 in any season since he arrived at UCLA.

Hurdle called the upcoming schedule “an opportunity… we can taken advantage of.” The manager did not elaborate, but it sounds to me like Cole will be fifth in the Pirates rotation coming out of the All-Star Break.

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James Santelli

James covers the Pirates beat for Pirates Prospects. He is a Broadcast Journalism student at USC and has written for such outlets as, Pittsburgh Magazine and the official websites of the Los Angeles Clippers and Pittsburgh Penguins. James previously covered the Pirates for Pittsburgh Sports Report. He also broadcasts play-by-play for the USC Trojans baseball team and was awarded the 2013 Chick Hearn Memorial Scholarship and Allan Malamud Scholarship. James dispenses puns at his Twitter account (@JamesSantelli) where he promises to write in first-person. Google

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  • Steve Zielinski

    Hmmmm. Inge provided veteran leadership to the A’s. They praise him but refuse to bring him back for the 2013 season. What is more telling about Inge? The praise or the boot.

    • Lee Young

      Amen, brother Z.

  • Ecbucs

    A’s didn’t even give him a chance to come back this season. I agree w Steve, they were asked a question and had to say something nice.

    That they had no interest and were not really solid in positions that Inge plays is a pretty clear sign that they thought he was over the hill. (a couple players have come thru for A’s this season but didn’t have great 2012 seasons).

    Also the Pirates brought Inge in on scholarship, he performed poorly in spring training and only hit 150 at Indy. The way the season has gone I don’t think that poor performance was because he was coming back from an injury. Can skate well though.

    • James Santelli

      “They were asked a question and had to say something nice.” There are many cases in which that is true. But it’s not often do you hear someone called “one of my favorites,” which Inge was. No matter your opinion on Baseball Player Brandon Inge, the Teammate Brandon Inge is universally well-liked.

      • Lee Young

        James…nobody is arguing that point. In fact, that would be the ONLY reason to keep him onboard.

      • Ecbucs

        I don’t disagree about him being well liked, its just that no other MLB team offered him a spring training invite.

        He got the invite from Pirates, got a pass and still made team. Once on team he has been one of poorest performers in majors. If he is at stage that he should have to perform in majors to keep a job. For some reason the Bucs have kept him.

    • Jeremy J Stein

      Yeah. What really stinks is when the Pirates do let Inge go, the rest of the players will feel sad and that will be the cause of the dreaded COLLAPSE.
      Well, probably not heh.

      • Bryan Graham

        There is a simple solution. Make Inge the Pirate Parrot, it sounds as if he would make a great mascot.

  • Jeremy J Stein

    Apparently Wright thinks Batting Average means something in the HR derby, as if Pedro is going to go up and strike out in what is basically a batting practice.
    Obviously Gonzalez makes sense, and from a PR point of view so does Harper. Cuddyer is good, but its the HR derby, go with Brown or Alvarez. Poor move by Wright.
    Ah well, looks like I won’t be watching the HR derby then since Pedro wasn’t selected.

    • Steve Zielinski

      For some reason the fans and people like Steve Blass believe major league baseball players know something about baseball value. Often — very often, all too often — they do not. Having the ability to play at the highest level and knowing how to perform at the highest level does not make one a reliable evaluator of baseball production. For that, one needs to have the capacity to evaluate baseball statistics as well as to scout baseball players. It’s clear Wright is lacking in some of these skills. For instance, the top four NL players in home runs are:
      Carlos Gonzalez
      Dominic Brown
      Pedro Alvarez
      Paul Goldschmidt
      Write only took Gonzalez from that list.
      Wright seems to be a synonym for not bright.

      • whiteAngus

        wright and cuddyer are long time friends from Chesapeake Virgina. They also know the Upton bros.

  • Matt Beam

    this pitching staff has no room for error these days, what’s so frustrating with this team is it’s complete inability to manufacture runs, how many times does a guy reach 2nd with no outs and is left stranded? when you’re not scoring runs, you need to find a way to get that guy home with 2 outs being made in the process, enough K’s and other lack of execution please

    • Matt Beam

      OAK’s offense stinks and is going against a good Jeff Locke but has found a way to score 2 runs on 3 hits tonight, this is what really good teams do, the current infield is a black hole at the plate except for when Pedro runs into 1-2 balls a week

    • Matt Beam

      Tabata just bailed out Marte – 2K’s tonight with RISP and less than 2 outs – urrghh

  • IC Bob

    When was the last time Inge or Ft Mac have had a meaningful hit? For that matter when has either guy had a hit? I am sure they are swell guys but man this team could use a swell guy that could hit 250 with a few walks and an occasional bomb.

  • IC Bob

    I think if they give Inge 5 more starts he might be able to find his way into a hit by Saturday

  • Matt Beam

    This team needs a clutch bat no matter whether it plays RF, 1B, or middle infield

  • PiratesFan1981

    I agree, someone who can hit around Pedro. Pedro is getting pitched around and needs a threat behind him. He is trying to hit anything close to the strike zone. After Pedro, who else is there to score a run or two with his power? No one! Pitchers know the is and give him pitches way out or up and in. Watch the pitch tracker on MLB app when Pedro is up. A guy who has good gap power, obs, and can hit around .280/.300 range, may give Pedro better pitch selections to hit.

    • Kevin_Young

      Pedro could have Miguel Cabrera hitting behind him and that would still be how he gets pitched. That’s just the book on him

  • PiratesFan1981

    A guy like Hunter Pence or even rios maybe some guy you want to hit around Pedro. Bumped Pedro to the 4th hole and pence/rios behind. Followed by who ever is hotter at the plate of Martin or walker

  • smurph

    Makes sense to make Cole the 5th starter after the AS break. My suggestion is to fire Hurdle, hire someone who has the nuts to cut Inge, then re-hire Hurdle.

  • imadushbag

    i recall nobody complained last year when kemp chose cutch to be on the derby team.

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