Pirates Notebook: Regardless of His Role, Jose Osuna Just Wants to Help the Team Win

PITTSBURGH — Throughout his minor-league career, Jose Osuna hasn’t had much of a platoon split.

If anything, the right-handed hitter was usually slightly better against left-handers, but there was never a huge difference one way or the other. This season in Triple-A with Indianapolis, he got on a hot streak against righties. His OPS was .862 against righties and .382 against lefties.

That’s carried over into the majors so far. He has an .833 OPS against right-handers and a .747 OPS against left-handers. But most of his opportunities to start have come against left-handed pitchers, like when he went 2-for-4 with two RBIs on Wednesday.

“It’s a small sample size,” manager Clint Hurdle. “That probably isn’t the best advantage for our roster to play out, to have him only hit against right-handed pitching. You mix it up.”

What Hurdle is referring to is that Gregory Polanco has struggled against lefties and Osuna is the best option to spell him in right. There are some other places for him to get some action, but the Pirates like what Josh Bell has done from both sides of the plate at first base and Osuna isn’t a great fit for left field.

“You’ve got guys out there, so we’re looking to find the best strategic match-up,” Hurdle said. “We’ve asked him to stretch a little bit in the outfield. He’s played some games in left field here. There’s a lot of ground to cover. I just think he needs to continue to play. I believe in the man in the box. As the years move on or the situations change over the course of the year, who knows what opportunities could present themselves for extended playing time or more consistent playing time.”

In the meantime, Osuna feels like he’s finally mastered the routine required to be a good part-time player. He often takes early extra fielding work and then heads to the tunnel for the early innings when he’s not starting.

“I made a routine,” he said. “The first couple weeks, it was a little bit hard. This is something new for me. But after that, I made a good routine. Now, I’m getting ready later in the games. I’m just trying to take a good pitch and having a good routine before the game: watch a couple videos, take some turns (at the cage). That’s helping me with the success I’ve had the last couple weeks.”

Osuna said he doesn’t care whether he plays against lefties or righties, starts or comes off the bench, as long as he can help the team.

“I’m just trying to go up there and pick a good pitch to hit,” he said. “That’s the only thing that I can control.”

Hurdle seemed pleased with the progress Osuna has made and acknowledged that where his next steps will be is largely out of his hands.

“He needs to continue to work and get experience and the only way he can get experience is when I get him in the lineup,” Hurdle said. “That’s out of his control.”


David Freese was given the night off. The 34-year-old has already played in 59 of the team’s 79 games this season. Hurdle feels that Freese might do better if he wasn’t worked as hard going forward.

“I believe I’ve played David too much. I believe I needed to get David a break,” Hurdle said. “I haven’t managed it as well as I should have. He wants to play every day. At this point in time in his career, I think to get the best player we get out there, we need to be a little bit more regimented with the playing time, because players, if you ask them to play, they’re going to play. That’s how they’re built.”


Hurdle did not know if Felipe Rivero or Juan Nicasio will be available. Both have pitched on consecutive nights. Catcher Francisco Cervelli (post-concussion symptoms) ran and threw before the game.

  • As I have said before. Osuna has done a nice job
    and he and Frazier has helped me forget that other
    guy we had earlier in the season.

  • Hurdle has no problem running Jaso out to LF in PNC, why not Osuna. With Kang’s future up in the air they should be working with Osuna at 3B everyday.

  • Probably a nice case of low-ceiling, high-floor, but he’s been a blessing to the Bucs.

    2017 Osuna .259/.306/.491
    2017 Keon Broxton .249/.320/.490

  • rickmontgomery
    June 29, 2017 10:50 pm

    Since we’re discussing tonight’s game, can anyone explain to me why Chris Stewart is in the starting lineup? My Grandma could hit better than he does and she’s been dead for 30+ years. Sorry, Grandma, but it’s the truth. And she could handle pitchers, too. “Get your head in the game, sonny boy, and throw a blessed strike once in a while!”

    • That is a head-scratcher. Diaz is better with the bat; has a better arm and blocks the ball in the dirt at least as well as Stewart. Could it be pitch framing?

  • Darkstone42
    June 29, 2017 9:32 pm

    Glad Bell got rewarded with that RBI single. He’s hit the ball hard tonight. He earned it.

    • Is it me or does he have a bad habit of watching first pitch strikes? The last few nights I have seen him take straight-as-a-string fastballs down the middle on first pitches. Somebody has a book on him that says he is not aggressive on first pitches.

      Liked the line shot to the LF the AB before the RBI AB.

  • Darkstone42
    June 29, 2017 9:22 pm

    Tony Watson pitched great in a leverage situation tonight. Hit 95 with his fastball. That’s a great sign.

  • He does have a sweet swing. Fastest hands for a Big Bucco in at least a few years.
    Watch the replays of his doubles last night, he brings a lot of offense to the ballpark.

  • Osuna, right now, should be playing over the disappointing Polanco.

    • Yes he should be! A real mystery why Polanco has not played up to his talent. Missing Marte?

    • Darkstone42
      June 29, 2017 9:24 pm

      Polanco took exception in the form of a dinger.

      Quick! Tell other Pirates they shouldn’t be playing!

      • Boom or bust with GP. After watching the first couple of weak rollover ABs, a HR was certainly not an expected outcome.

        I’ll say this though. I was sitting in Sec 121, so had a great view of the flight path and close enough to hear the bat contact. There was zero doubt on that leaving. IMO, if he had some loft, that was in the Mon.