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Pirates notebook: Jaso rewards Hurdle with breakout series

| Thursday, May 18, 2017, 8:40 p.m.

It took John Jaso 19 at-bats over 14 games before he got his first hit this season. At no point so far has his average been above .167.

Yet Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has not lost faith.

““At this level, a lot of people quit on you when you don't get off to a good start,” Hurdle said. “What we do is not fantasy baseball; it's real baseball. You can't just move players around. You give them a chance to work and a chance to play … and more often than not, they show up for you.”

In Thursday's 10-4 win against the Washington Nationals, Jaso delivered a go-ahead home run in the fifth inning. He also battled for an eight-pitch walk with the bases loaded.

In the first game of the series, Jaso made a dramatic, diving catch in right field. On Wednesday, he drew three walks and scored from first base on a single to right field.

“The thing about this game is you have to just keep playing because you never know,” Jaso said. “It could be that one at-bat when you break through. It turns around quick both ways, for the worse and for the better.”

Jaso's slow start at the plate and his occasional awkwardness in right field (a position he's still learning) have made him a flashpoint for the struggling Pirates. His comments Wednesday that fans can't relate to what it takes to be a big leaguer made Jaso a target on sports-talk radio.

“There's always going to be external noise,” Jaso said. “You just keep going because it's a blessing to put on this jersey. Not everybody can do it. You don't take it for granted. To get (angry) about it is disrespectful to this (talent) you have.”

Big sticks

Adam Frazier collected a career-high four RBIs on Thursday. Coincidentally, the public address system blasted “Shut Up and Dance” — Frazier's walk-up song in 2015, when he batted .324 at Double-A Altoona — during an inning break.

“There are a lot of hits in that song,” Frazier said with a grin. “I hope it's a good sign for me tomorrow.”

Danny Ortiz got his first big league hit, a single to right field off Enny Romero in the seventh inning. Ortiz was promoted from Triple-A Indianapolis on Wednesday when Gregory Polanco (left hamstring) went on the disabled list.

“It's exciting because when they called me up, (a hit) is the biggest thing I wanted,” Ortiz said through translator Mike Gonzalez.

Around the horn

Items from Roberto Clemente's private collection, including his 1971 World Series ring and game uniforms, are on display through Sunday at PNC Park behind the left-field bleachers. The items will be auctioned in Miami during All-Star Game week. … Gerrit Cole will be feature on the youth-oriented show “Play Ball” at 10 a.m. Saturday on MLB Network. … Willie Stargell's 1979 World Series ring is among his items up for online bidding through June 10 at scpauctions.com. … Team president Frank Coonelly was named to the MLB competition committee, which advises commissioner Rob Manfred and the owners on on-field matters.

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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