Pirates notebook: Team monitoring Barajas’ playing time
Published: Tuesday, July 17, 2012, 8:50 p.m.
Updated: Wednesday, July 18, 2012
DENVER — With the second half of the season under way, the Pirates are keeping a close eye on Rod Barajas' playing time. The veteran catcher will turn 37 on Sept. 5.
“Rod needs to play appropriately, not every day, to keep him in a good place,” manager Clint Hurdle said.
Barajas has played in 61 of the first 89 games this season, which puts him on pace for 111 games. That would be the most he's played in since 2009, when Barajas appeared in a career-high 125 games with the Toronto Blue Jays. He played in 99 games in 2010 and 98 games last year.
Barajas went down with a bruised knee June 25 and sat out 10 of the next 17 games. Hurdle said the injury caused the Pirates to revise their original plan for how they would use Barajas.
“We had a rough draft, and we followed it in the first half,” Hurdle said. “We backed away from (it) because of the injury. So he's kind of right on schedule.”
• Hurdle was asked the question every Pirates fan wants answered: When will prized outfield prospect Starling Marte be ready for his call-up? “He's improving upon the things we've asked him to improve upon: the walk-to-strikeout ratio, the swing and chase, the aggressiveness on bases, stealing bases, getting good leads,” Hurdle said. “You did see him struggle in right field in spring training, so we're finding ways to get him more games on the corners (at Triple-A). We want to make sure we properly assess the talent we have here and don't miss on things that are going on.” The Pirates continue to press Arizona about a trade for right fielder Justin Upton, so Marte might remain in the minors until that issue is resolved.
• Although Josh Harrison and Drew Sutton can play shortstop, Hurdle said “while (Jordy) Mercer is here, he's going to be my go-to guy.” But it doesn't sound as if Mercer will be around the whole season. “One thing we're looking to evolve over time is possibly recreating the bench to some degree,” Hurdle said. “We've had a bench that's been very young. We've had three rookies on the bench. That's a challenge. Can it work? Yes, but there are some challenges to it. As we move forward, we'll look to strengthen that.”
• Pedro Alvarez hit his 18th home run late Monday night. That's the most homers by a Pirates third baseman since Aramis Ramirez hit a club-record 34 at the position in 2001.
— Rob Biertempfel
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