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Pirates notebook: Joining team 'a dream come true' for Jack Leathersich

Rob Biertempfel
| Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, 7:30 p.m.
New Pirates reliever Jack Leathersich, pitching for the Cubs earlier this season, has spent most of this season in Triple-A.
Getty Images
New Pirates reliever Jack Leathersich, pitching for the Cubs earlier this season, has spent most of this season in Triple-A.
Pittsburgh Pirates' Adam Frazier congratulates Andrew McCutchen as he crosses home after hitting a two-run home run during the first inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Pittsburgh Pirates' Adam Frazier congratulates Andrew McCutchen as he crosses home after hitting a two-run home run during the first inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

MILWAUKEE — Jack Leathersich had his exit interview on Monday with manager Clint Hurdle and general manager Neal Huntington.

“More of an entrance interview for him than an exit interview,” Hurdle said.

Each September, Hurdle and Huntington have a sitdown with every player on the active roster. They assess what has transpired over the past five months, discuss offseason plans and set goals for the next year.

A left-handed reliever, Leathersich was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis on Sunday, six days after he was claimed off waivers from the Chicago Cubs.

Leathersich has lots of relatives in Pittsburgh. Much of his mother's side of the family is from Fox Chapel.

“It's a dream come true,” Leathersich said. “I've been to a bunch of games (at PNC Park) when I was little. It's definitely one of my favorite parks in the big leagues. It's a cool place to play.”

As a rookie in 2015, Leathersich made 17 relief outings for the New York Mets. He pitched in one game this season with the Chicago Cubs.

Leathersich spent most of this season with Triple-A Iowa. After the Pirates claimed him, he pitched in three of Indy's four playoff games against Durham. In a total of two innings, he gave up two runs on one hit, walked one and struck out four.

“There's a lot that we've seen in the past that we like about this guy,” Hurdle said. “The aggressiveness off the mound. The changeup is playing more for him than in any other year. The arm plays. He can pitch up the zone with his fastball.”

Hurdle does not see Leathersich as just a left-on-left option.

“I don't think we'll ever try to develop just a left-on-left guy,” Hurdle said. “And not every team is going to line up three left-handers in a row for you.”

Taillon skipped, Kuhl next

Right-hander Jameson Taillon, whose turn was skipped Monday, will throw a bullpen session Tuesday and another on either Friday or Saturday.

Steven Brault took Taillon's spot on Monday. Tyler Glasnow will pitch in place of Trevor Williams on Wednesday.

“Chad (Kuhl) will be a guy we'll consider (to skip) next,” Hurdle said.

Kuhl worked Saturday against the St. Louis Cardinals and gave up two runs in six innings. The Pirates have not yet released their starters for this weekend's series against the Cincinnati Reds.

Gerrit Cole will finish out the rest of the season on his normal rotation, according to Hurdle.

Benoit departs

Joaquin Benoit was given permission to leave the team for a few days to attend to a family matter in Santiago, Dominican Republic.

Hurdle said Benoit's absence is open-ended, due to travel issues after Hurricane Irma. Benoit's departure is not related to the hurricane.

Kyles arrives

Indy pitching coach Stan Kyles was brought up to aid Hurdle's staff over the final weeks of the regular season. Kyles was the Milwaukee Brewers' bullpen coach from 2008-12. This is his fifth season in the Pirates system.

Kyles can offer input on the entire staff but especially recent call-ups such as Tyler Glasnow, Leathersich, Dan Runzler, Angel Sanchez and Edgar Santana.

“He's seen them pitch all year at Triple-A,” Hurdle said. “Let's see if there's anything he picks up that's different at this level. He's the absolute voice of reason in all of this. He's seen all the work.”

Using the pen

Even without Benoit, there are 11 pitchers in the bullpen. Sometimes, it can be difficult to manage that many relievers to make sure nobody gets stale or overlooked.

A lot of how Hurdle uses his bullpen down the stretch will depend on how deep the starters go in games.

“We've got some priority guys,” Hurdle said. “We want to take a look at a couple of the left-handers in left-on-left situations. Guys might not work all the way through an inning, so we'll cut up some innings, if need be, which will provide more opportunity.”

Surviving Irma

LECOM Park and the Pirate City complex in Bradenton, Fla., sustained no significant damage from Hurricane Irma.

“Our thoughts and continued prayers go out to all Floridians and all those affected by Hurricane Irma,” team spokesman Brian Warecki said. “LECOM Park and Pirate City sustained some minor wind damage with downed trees and fencing, (and) the playing fields took on a lot of water.”

Pirates maintenance workers will begin a full inspection and cleanup at the two complexes Tuesday morning.

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

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