Dejan Kovacevic chat transcript: June 13, 2012
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Dejan Kovacevic: So there I was driving to the South Side for the Steelers' minicamp when I got a call with a tip, followed by a hard U-turn and the news you can find on our site right now about Charlie Morton. Most unfortunate for the team and the athlete. Off we go ...
AK: I know this story is just breaking, but are you getting any sense that Charlie Morton's elbow injury is related to the hip surgery? A change in mechanics to adjust to his hip causing the problem?
Dejan Kovacevic: Absolutely impossible to say. What I'm hearing is that this Morton development VERY much caught all concerned off guard. You'll recall Charlie saying after he was shut down that he'd felt discomfort off and on for three weeks leading up to his last start May 29. Well, that's not usually how it goes with a torn ligament. There's rarely an "on" of any kind. Moreover, he didn't really have a change in mechanics in the literal sense. He just wasn't "right," to use his own word. This is lousy news all around.
Clown question bro...: Should the pirates bring up Rudy Owens? Lincoln should not be starting and
Dejan Kovacevic: Yes, the Pirates should do that. Yesterday. Check this morning's blog for more.
CK: has charlies morton thrown his last pitch as a pirate?
Dejan Kovacevic: It's a fair question to ask. Morton is still in his arbitration years, which means the Pirates would have to tender him a figure higher than the $2,445,000 he's making now. That's asking a lot. It's unlikely to happen. That said, the Pirates also have a history of keeping guys like this in the fold, even for extended stretches, to give them a second shot. Remember Kevin Hart, Jose Ascanio and others? Morton loves Ray Searage. Very much doubt he'd leave.
Tim in KY: DK, last month the Cincy television feed showed Charlie last year and this year side-by-side. This year was decidedly more on the sidearm side of a three quarters motion, and Jeff Brantley thought that it might mess up his arm and his effectiveness.
Dejan Kovacevic: I've heard about that broadcast, though I didn't see it myself. A three-quarters guy can drop down a little low from time to time. The arm can sag. Doesn't mean it was some definitive trend, but sure sounds like Brantley -- a former pitcher with the Reds -- made a fair point.
Ramin: Hi Dejan - how much do you think the past couple weeks of injuries (Morton, Karstens setback) and poor performance (Lincoln) have made Huntington less likely to trade pitching for hitting?
Dejan Kovacevic: It's got to have an effect. But I'll remind that both Rudy Owens and Jeff Locke have done quite well in Triple-A. It's possible they could come to Pittsburgh and make the depth look good again. (Or not, if they falter.)
SteelersfanSLC: How has Toney Clemons looked so far? I have him as a sleeper pick
Dejan Kovacevic: The kid from Valley, who I'm sure will have a lot of close followers once the real camp opens, hasn't been all that impressive. Seen some drops, failure to seal blocks. But it's really hard to pin much, good or bad, on OTAs and minicamp. You're mostly doing walk-throughs in shorts. Bottom line for Clemons: The receiving corps is deep, and the No. 5 guy is going to have to be a special teams ace. Not sure he's that guy. Practice squad looms.
Brand: Your thoughts on Jordan Staal? Wise to try and trade him now?
Dejan Kovacevic: If you trade one of the big three, he's the guy. You just don't give up one of the two best players in the world. And please, anyone citing a single playoff round as evidence of anything needs to get a grip on reality. Staal is a wonderful player, terrific two-way performer. He's not 87 or 71 and never will be. But would I trade him if it weren't necessary? Absolutely, positively not. Best-case scenario is that the Penguins find a way to assure him of a prominent role moving forward, notably first-team power play, and work out the cash to keep him. From there, hey, how about actually drafting an NHL-level forward once in a blue moon?
SteelersfanSLC: What young player has impressed the most at mini camp?
Dejan Kovacevic: It's Chris Rainey but a HUGE margin, and I'll explain why in tomorrow's column summarizing the Steelers' OTAs and minicamp. Hope you can check it out.
Matt_Newport: It's extremely upsetting how much of the Sandusky stuff could have been prevented had any of the adults with suspicions and/or direct knowledge of his actions called the police. Was it all just to protect the football team?
Dejan Kovacevic: If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck ... Really, as sickening as the broader testimony has been, the cold fact is that the hardest news to come out of the early days of this trial is that more people at Penn State apparently knew more than we thought. The Graham Spanier emails are especially damning, but the testimony placing Tom Bradley at one of the scenes was nearly as bad. Just horrific, all of it. And the fact that it's institutional to a degree makes it all the more so.
Clown question bro...: Do you think the pirates should sign Vlad Guerrero? Will he even want to come here?
Dejan Kovacevic: Guerrero stopped being a National League player a long time ago. His knees just won't allow it. You can thank the rock-hard turf at Montreal's Big O for that.
Bjm: Should KC come out of rotation as well?
Dejan Kovacevic: Kevin Correia hasn't done well, and he looked particularly blah last night. But he won't come out before Brad Lincoln does. And if you take both out, you've got two holes to fill. That means both Owens and Locke, because of Jeff Karstens' recent setback. That's putting a lot of pressure on two rookies. It's not always as easy as just saying, "That guy stinks, and I want him out of there."
BigNick: Yes Correa should be out of the rotation and yes Ownes should be in it,
Dejan Kovacevic: But that's not the swap that's there, Nick. Owens would replace Lincoln. So who replaces Correia?
ManOSteel: Ive been hearing Adams has been getting some first team reps, how's he looking?
Dejan Kovacevic: Mike Adams has been beaten, he's made mistakes, and he's got a long way to go. But the kid's had a total of two full days on a football field with his team. It's enormously understandable. The thing I find most striking is that his teammates, including fellow linemen, are unanimous that he can start. No exceptions. And these guys aren't being tepid or polite about it, as you'd expect. They're emphatic. Best response I got from anyone this week about the two rookie linemen came when I asked Maurkice Pouncey what he thought of them. "Wow," he came back. "You SEE that out there?"
Confused: Why do we say there are 4 major sports? I get the MLB, NFL, NHL but what else? I don't think college sports count, and I don't really see NASCAR, Tennis, or the PGA as a major sport.
Dejan Kovacevic: Oh, be nice. There genuinely are people in Pittsburgh who watch, even love the NBA. And the basketball playoffs are doing quite well ratings-wise nationally and, on some nights, right here.
Matt: What Olympic sport are you most looking forward to?
Dejan Kovacevic: Always, always, always, the 100 meters. Nothing like it in the world. Both men and women. They have reporters about 20 meters beyond the finish line, right down at track level. You're watching the fastest human beings on the planet. It's a rush unlike any I've experienced in covering sports. And with Usain Bolt running, it's something else altogether.
Yinzer: how often will Vokoun start over Fleury?
Dejan Kovacevic: I'd be very surprised if Tomas Vokoun didn't make 30 starts, all other factors tossed out. He's used to a heavy workload, so he can handle it, and this allows for a split of most back-to-back games, home-and-home and the like. I know it hurts the Penguins' cap situation to add $2 million in goaltending, but you saw the effect a tired Marc-Andre Fleury can have on the games that count.
Adam in Boulder: Durant is to LeBron as Crosby is to Ovechkin. Discuss.
Dejan Kovacevic: Um ... no.
Albert: Is JosaTabata legitimately injured? Does he have "broken toes"? Is he suffering a shortage of confidence? Getting batting tips from Lastings Milledge? None of the above?
Dejan Kovacevic: Tabata has had a hamstring issue forever, but I still can't escape that image last week when he came off the field limping after getting thrown out at second, and no one -- not even an athletic trainer -- came over to his end of the bench to see what was amiss. Seriously weird. And no answers on it.
ManOSteel: Any word on whats been keeping Curtis Brown from practicing in mini camp?
Dejan Kovacevic: Something leg-related, based on his wrap. I don't know more than that.
Chicago Chris: Dejan, love your work, and love how you and the Trib have embraced social media with your Pgh sports coverage. It's disappointing the same isn't happening with the other paper. On another note, I live in Chicago and recently took my family to a minor league baseball game in the burbs. Starting at the 3B for the visiting team, the Beloit Snappers, was none other than Miguel Sano. Didn't look too polished in the field, had a little Tabata effort in him, but his bat looked incredible! Would have been nice!
Dejan Kovacevic: I'm a little surprised the Twins are sticking by Sano in the infield. That's a reach. Almost every scout I ever discussed Sano with has projected that his frame would thicken and that he'd end up in right field to take advantage of his cannon arm. But yeah, his bat's amazing in person. Effortless, elegant power. Oh, and thanks for the kind words about the Trib sports staff. We're trying hard, and we're trying it a lot of different venues.
I do believe it's Tampa Bay Lightning time, quick Qs and quick As ...
Naterosboro: 100m? Gotta add some hurdles to it, no?
Dejan Kovacevic: No. Just pure speed. Besides, hurdles takes it out to 110 meters.
Dave in Ross: DK, Honestly, do you see NH ever making a significant trade for offense? How long before they give up on Pedro?
Dejan Kovacevic: I do see that happening, Dave. I genuinely believe the Pirates when they tell me they're pursuing a bat. But, as noted above, pitching depth has to remain a factor.
SteelersfanSLC: Any of the young corners showing some ball skills? (INT's)
Dejan Kovacevic: Brown did before he got hurt. And I'll throw one more way-off-the-path name at you in tomorrow's column.
Chris: Can you recommend any good restaurants in Edmonton?
Dejan Kovacevic: Try Smitty's, right across the street from the Oilers' arena. Kind of like a Max & Erma's.
Ben in MS: Euro 2012 Thoughts?
Dejan Kovacevic: If the tournament produces anything better than Andriy Shevchenko's brilliant showing in front of the home crowd in Ukraine, I'll be surprised. What a sight that was, watching a permanent national hero created before your eyes. Today, by the way, SI is reporting Shevchenko is considering the MLS. That wouldn't be a terrible thing.
Cam Littlefield: Care to place a % on chances that Appel sings?
Dejan Kovacevic: Scott Boras' guys sign. Who was the last one anyone can cite who missed a huge chunk of time? J.D. Drew?
Cam Littlefield: Is Jordy Mercer ever going to get that chance to be everyday SS?
Dejan Kovacevic: No idea why he's still with the team. Really, if this is a legit prospect, get him on the field somewhere. Josh Harrison can be Clint Barmes' backup.
McClendons Stolen Base: Should they make baseball players declare for the draft to avoid this uncertainty and silliness from Appel/Boras?
Dejan Kovacevic: You mean a hard commitment? You'll never see that. Agents and draft picks just conceded a ton, essentially, in the most recent CBA. But yeah, it would add a ton of certaintly to the process.
Adam in Boulder: Care to place a % on chances that Alvarez ever does what he did for that one hot week this year for the majority of a season?
Dejan Kovacevic: Clint Hurdle loves to say, "If it's in there, it's in there." But if it only comes out to play for nine days every three months, is it really in there?
Playoffs by 2012: How many drafts / re-writes do you normally do before a column is published?
Dejan Kovacevic: Depends if it's on a night-time, game-setting deadline, obviously. I'd estimate one serious draft, then a whole lot of tinkering. Relentless tinkering, actually.
Albert: Will you be going to State College this summer to see Heredia pitch?
Dejan Kovacevic: That sounds like it would be fun, but the planning isn't that far ahead. Good for Luis Heredia for harnessing the small control issues he was having in extended spring. Kid will be just 18 this summer.
Martini Mark in ATL: I saw a quick video your co-worker Mark posted of Casey Hampton. By that short vidoeo, he does not look anywhere near being able to play NT - he looked tentative on the knee at best. What are your thoughts on McClendon or Ta'amu starting in Denver? Could 'Big Snack' be a victim of 'The Turk' at final cut?
Dejan Kovacevic: There's zero indication to that effect, just as there's zero indication that Hampton is behind on his recovery schedule. Recoveries aren't instant. People will limp. As for a replacement, the leaning is toward Steve McLendon.
David in NJ: Did you catch the Sports Illustrated piece on their website about the Pirates being for real this year? Any thoughts
Dejan Kovacevic: I read SI, but not their baseball coverage. Never see any of those people in actual baseball settings. I read people I know are out there.
RyanW: Mark Kaboly's blog post about Ben explaining his initial concerns seems to indicate Ben is easing up about the change does it seem that way to you?
Dejan Kovacevic: Very much so. That gets touched on in tomorrow's column, too. One more today ...
mattlock: True or False.....Barmes will be the starting shortstop at the end of the season?
Dejan Kovacevic: True, if only for the simple reason that he won't get pushed. Look, if the Pirates took Mercer seriously as a prospect, they wouldn't have him sitting at the end of the bench for two weeks.
pgherinfl - Carl: Thanks for chat DK!!!
Dejan Kovacevic: No, thanks to all of you for participating. Love that we get not only this large number of live readers but also that the questions are as diversified as they are.
The columns appear Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The chat is Thursday. And the blog is like the timeless Olympic swimmer Dara Torres. If you don't know who she is, you will by August.
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