Starling Marte has been a huge spark to the Pittsburgh Pirates offense this month, as he has batted .363, with a 1.046 OPS in August. Clint Hurdle attributed his success to taking a better approach at the plate.
“He’s become more confident in the box, understanding that there’s a game going on other than just trying to get a hit,” Hurdle said.
Hurdle also added that he’s been more stubborn with his approach in the batter’s box.
“The way the pitcher’s are working him, he’s developed a mentality that I do need to be aware what they’re trying to do to me and I need to have a plan and stay stubborn with that,” Hurdle said.
Besides hitting, Marte has been able to avoid some of the base running gaffes that he’s been plagued with in the past.
“There’s actually been some times he’s planned on going and saw an early pitch out and stopped on his own,” Hurdle said.
Heart and Hustle
Josh Harrison has been the Pirates’ biggest surprise this season, and before today’s game, Clint Hurdle will award him with the Heart and Hustle award. Since 2005, the MLB Players Alumni Association has presented the award to a player on each team who “demonstrates a passion for the game of baseball and best embodies the values, spirit and tradition of the game.”
Harrison is an apt pick for the award, Hurdle said.
“You talk about heart, you talk about hustle, he embodies both,” Hurdle said.
If a little league coach was bringing his player to Pirates’ game, Hurdle stated that Harrison would best exhibit the “right” way to play.
“If you want to put your eyes on a player, you bring your little league team, and put your eyes on Josh Harrison, and watch him play the game and I think you’ll walk away with some lessons learned,” Hurdle said.
Mike Leake will take the hill tonight for the Reds. Typically, the Pirates have had a tough time hitting Leake, but this year they’ve managed a .297 batting average and 5.03 ERA against him.
Hurdle didn’t mention any significant changed is approach against Leake, just rather taking advantage of prime opportunities.
“We might just be hitting pitches that have been left out over the plate,“ Hurdle said. “We seem to have just had an opportunity to get some guys on early, and then get some hits when we’ve needed them.”
When Leake is hitting his spots, though, he’s been quite the challenge for the Pirates.
“There’s been some games that he’s been tough to hit. He shaves the corners so well, he keeps the ball down so well, changes speeds, throw any pitch at any time, any location,” Hurdle said.