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Pirates notebook: Gomez tabbed for spot start

Rob Biertempfel
| Monday, April 29, 2013, 4:06 p.m.
Pirates reliever Jeanmar Gomez throws during the sixth inning against the Braves Sunday, April 21, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates reliever Jeanmar Gomez throws during the sixth inning against the Braves Sunday, April 21, 2013, at PNC Park.

MILWAUKEE — Left-hander Jonathan Sanchez and right-hander Jeanmar Gomez have traded places.

Sanchez is out of the starting rotation, which could be the first step toward jettisoning him from the roster. Gomez will start Wednesday against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Sanchez (0-3, 12.71 ERA) faced just four batters Friday before being ejected for intentionally hitting Allen Craig with a pitch. The next day, MLB suspended Sanchez for six games. Sanchez appealed, and his case will be heard Friday via video conference call.

If the suspension is upheld, Sanchez likely will have made his final start for the Pirates. Left-hander Francisco Liriano (broken arm) is expected to come off the disabled list May 10. Sanchez could be released to clear a roster spot.

The Pirates acquired Gomez Jan. 9 from Cleveland in exchange for minor league outfielder Quincy Latimore. Gomez made 38 starts for the Indians and went 14-16 with a 5.18 ERA. Gomez has made five outings out of the Pirates' bullpen and is 1-0 with a 2.63 ERA.

“It was a little bit of a surprise for me when they told me I'm starting Wednesday,” Gomez said. “But it's not like it's new for me to be a starter. There's no pressure.”

Gomez threw 67 pitches Friday when he took over after Sanchez was ejected. He figures he could throw up to 85 or 90 on Wednesday.

Hurdle said he opted for Gomez because the timing was not right to call up someone from Triple-A Indianapolis, such as Andy Oliver or Gerrit Cole.

“Right now, (Gomez) is the fit that makes the most sense,” Hurdle said. “Nobody (at Indy) is in a place that we think they should be to call them up to make a spot start. Oliver has shown some good signs, (but) he's still working on repeating delivery. Cole, the same thing. To call a guy up for one time and send him back down, I don't think would benefit either of them.”

In five starts, Cole is 2-1 with a 2.31 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP.

“It's not so much command issues,” Hurdle said of Cole. “It's dominating, repeating delivery, throwing secondary pitches for strikes and pounding the strike zone. It's not all about the walk total; it's the quality of the strikes, as well. It's something he needs to improve upon.”

Martin: Thanks, Cards!

Catcher Russell Martin was named National League Player of the Week for the period ending April 28.

In six games, Martin batted .375 (9 for 24) and topped the league with four home runs, a .958 slugging percentage and 23 total bases. In a 9-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday, Martin homered twice and doubled. It was the second time in the past 50 years a Pirate had three extra-base hits, including two homers, in a game.

“A fun week,” Martin said. “I still feel it's the law of the averages, having that kind of a start and then it's got to balance out somewhere.”

Martin went hitless in his first 17 at-bats and his average didn't climb above .200 until April 21. He credits the turnaround to subtle changes he made to how he sets up in the batter's box — changes he noticed from how Cardinals players were batting against the Pirates.

“I recognized how they were attacking the baseball,” Martin said. “The Cardinals had some pretty good approaches. They were staying on balls that normally are good pitches. I'd never really done that before, taking something from the other team. But I felt like I needed to change something. It worked.”

Don't touch that dial

Because of conflicts with Penguins first-round playoff games, Root Sports will not televise Pirates games May 3 vs. Washington and May 7 vs. Seattle. Games May 9, 11 and 12 also could be affected depending upon the Pens' schedule. Root Sports said in a news release that changes will not alter the network's commitment to televise at least 150 Pirates games this season.

Snider, Walker still out

Travis Snider (sore right side) took some swings Monday in the indoor batting cages. He will do some pregame running on the field Tuesday and shag some fly balls. Neil Walker (cut on right hand) played catch and attempted a few swings Monday. Neither player was in the lineup Monday, but Hurdle hoped that Snider and perhaps Walker will be available to pinch-hit by Tuesday.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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