Pirates notebook: Hurdle says offense needs to get rolling

Travis Sawchik
| Wednesday, June 19, 2013, 7:36 p.m.

CINCINNATI — Nearing the midpoint of the season, the Pirates' bats continue to struggle.

The Pirates struck out a season-high 17 times against the Reds on Tuesday, continuing seasonlong offensive struggles.

The Pirates entered Wednesday ranked 12th in the NL in runs scored.

Of the nine Pirates hitters to log at least 150 plate appearances this season, five have failed to meet Baseball Prospectus' projections for true average (TAv), a measure of total offensive value. Only Russell Martin, Starling Marte and Gaby Sanchez have exceeded their true average projections. And only Martin, Marte and Sanchez are exceeding their OPS rates from last season.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle still is waiting for a progression to the mean.

“We are not meeting standards,” Hurdle said. “I'm not going to lower their bar. I think the bar is right where it needs to be. I think they'll answer that bar. I'm looking for more out of the people we have here.”

The Pirates' biggest issue is they are not putting enough balls in play. The Pirates are second in the National League in strikeouts (599), better only than the Braves. The Pirates also ranked second worst in the NL in strikeouts last season.

“If you break down what our bat-to-ball (rate) is within in the strike zone, and what our chase ratio is, you don't have to go much further than that to see why we are struggling offensively,” Hurdle said. “We need to do a better job of competing within the batter's box and not chasing, to a man. That comes down to discipline.”

Burnett still inactive

Pirates ace A.J. Burnett is still not scheduled for a throwing session, while he recovers from a calf strain. Burnett was scratched from his start Friday and placed on the disabled list.

“As of right now, he's been nowhere near a mound,” Hurdle said. “We are working on flexibility and strengthening. That's not to say that can't change within 24 hours with A.J. He's really tried to not do some things at all and do a lot of (other) things as far as his rehab goes.”

Reds' Latos wants more

Reds pitcher Mat Latos doesn't think the beanball ledger is even between his club and the Pirates.

“You've got a team that's drilling people over and over again. Something's got to be done,” Latos said of the Pirates following Tuesday's game. “The league needs to step in and say something and end it.”

In eight games between the clubs this season, 10 Reds batters and six Pirates batters have been hit.

Heredia, Allie promoted

Pirates prospect Luis Heredia was assigned to Low-A West Virginia on Wednesday. Pirates GM Neal Huntington said the right-hander's assignment was delayed because the Pirates are being conservative with the 18-year-old.

Baseball America's John Manuel said Heredia did not show up in great shape to spring training, which was the reason for the delay. The 6-foot-6 Heredia received a $2.6 million signing bonus in 2010, the largest the Pirates have given an international free agent.

First baseman Stetson Allie was promoted from West Virginia to High-A Bradenton.

Allie hit .324 with 17 homers and 61 RBI for the Power.

2 former Pirates die

Two former Pirates — infielder Gene Freese and catcher Danny Kravitz — died Wednesday.

Freese, 79, played with the Pirates from 1955-58. The Wheeling, W.Va., native played 12 major league seasons as a second and third baseman. He batted .254 with 115 home runs in his career.

Kravitz, 82, played with the Pirates from 1956-60 and was a .236 lifetime hitter.

Travis Sawchik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at tsawchik@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Sawchik_Trib.

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