Clint Hurdle had only one hope left. He tossed aside the morning paper, headline splashed “PIRATES LOSE 13-0,” and hopped into his pickup truck. He took the fast lane, following the signs for Indianapolis.
“Well, the man did say he wanted to get away from it all,” he thought.
Clint’s truck climbed up the dirt road, and he spotted the tall man chopping wood. He didn’t want to have to ask him to pitch again, but desperate times…
“Jared!” Clint shouted. “We need you back! Vic Black can’t pitch for the next two days!
“I know you said you would never come back, but will you give it one last go? For me?”
Jared dropped the axe, wiped the sweat off his brow. Then he smiled.
“Awesome!” he responded smiling. “Let’s go!”
Off they went to fight their toughest enemy of all, the Colorado Rockies.
So that didn’t really happen, but Jared Hughes returns to the Pirates to replace Vic Black, who made three appearances but would not return until at least Sunday after throwing 41 pitches Thursday night.
The 28-year-old reliever was placed on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation on June 8 and missed 47 games. Though the injury was a setback for Hughes, it had a positive in keeping the right-hander fresh to pitch these final two months of the season.
“I took 10 days of not even touching the ball, and my shoulder healed up after that,” Hughes said. “I have less innings, there’s less wear and tear. Hopefully I will be able to take as much a burden as they need me to, go out there and eat innings.”
Hurdle said every report on Hughes’ rehab (where he pitched 10.2 scoreless innings) was that his fastball had good late life, an improvement from when he was last in the Majors.
“Maybe injury played into that,” Hurdle said, adding that Hughes showed the ability to pitch multiple innings on his rehab.
Hughes owns a 3.32 ERA and 4.13 FIP in 103 Major League innings, and he knows his gameplan for when he takes the mound at PNC Park.
“I’m a sinker-ball pitcher, and I’m gonna go out there and throw sinkers,” Hughes said. “The biggest thing is being able to command the sinker. That was there.”
- Vic Black does not need to make many adjustments in his return to Triple-A, Hurdle said. He showed the ability to enter in situations besides the 9th, to warm up and sit back down and flash his two-plane curveball. “[He’ll] throw that breaking ball wherever he wants to, because he can.”
- Pitcher Wandy Rodriguez (left forearm tightness) threw again Friday and gave Hurdle a thumbs up.
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington has talked to Hurdle in his quest to find a third catcher to replace Michael McKenry the rest of 2013, looking for a minor-league backstop who has Major League experience to back up Russell Martin and Tony Sanchez. The manager said one of their catching targets was acquired by another team.
- The team has no current plans to teach Tony Sanchez any other position other than catcher.
- Hurdle on Friday night starter Gerrit Cole: “He seems to have that other gear like a small number of pitchers have. You’ll see it 92, 94, 95, 93, 95… 98, 99. I don’t know how that happens.” He compared the phenomenon to Justin Verlander and Stephen Strasburg.
- Hurdle on the hustle of Jose Tabata: “He has improved… effort, attitude. The man is engaged.”
- Hurdle called Colorado’s probable starters Jhoulys Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa and Juan Nicasio the Rockies’ three best starting pitchers.