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Pirates notebook: Hurdle says offense shouldn't panic

| Wednesday, July 10, 2013, 9:30 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Storm clouds roll over the Pittsburgh skyline Wednesday, July 10, 2013, the PNC Park.

During a Pirates' losing streak that reached four games Tuesday night, they were 3 for 27 with runners in scoring position, left 28 men on base and scored a total of six runs.

Manager Clint Hurdle said prior to Wednesday's series finale against Oakland that he believes the offense will self-correct, but he was clear they expect more.

“We've got a number of individuals that probably haven't met expectations that we projected going in,” he said. “We've got a few that have. I think we all like our team, we are committed to working hard every day to getting a little bit better and from the offensive side the guys are mindful. They're not going to panic. That's not a good state or place for anybody to be.”

Hurdle tweaked the batting order Wednesday, moving Pedro Alvarez back to the fifth spot after he batted cleanup the first two games against Oakland and inserting Russell Martin in the fourth spot. It was Martin's first time hitting cleanup since 2009 and just the 24th time in his career.

The biggest key to sparking a struggling offense, Hurdle said, is going out to compete and getting hits.

“Go up there with not, ‘I got to,' but, ‘I get to,' ” he said. “That's one thing we talk about. Your frame of mind's important. If your success is tied to a base hit, that's a very challenging place to put yourself. Your confidence is your confidence. I believe we're in that place. We're not getting the results we want now. As long as attitude, effort, preparation and focus are there, we'll eventually get the results we want.”

Indy … maybe?

The Athletics optioned Dan Straily back to their Triple-A affiliate after Tuesday's game, but not because their young starter deserved a demotion. They just decided that with the break, they wouldn't need a fifth starter until the Tuesday following the All-Star Game and wanted Straily to continue to pitch. Hurdle played coy when asked if the Pirates were considering that as an option for Gerrit Cole.

“Very interesting, isn't it?” Hurdle said. “I think any time you have a young pitcher you'll try to find the best way to, in Oakland's case, I guess, keep him pitching and not have him sit 14 days. So that's how Oakland chose to work it. You'll know soon how we're going to work it.”

Cole said it's nice to stay on a five-day schedule, but he'd prefer not to return to Indianapolis. “I'd like to throw a couple bullpen sessions,” he said. “We'll have to see what they want to do.”

Take the good, take the bad

Charlie Morton pitched a season-high six innings at Wrigley Field on Saturday, and despite giving up two home runs in a loss that dropped his record to 1-2, Morton's six strikeouts also marked a season high in his fifth start of the year. “I still see positives. I still see a guy that's going to help us moving forward,” Hurdle said. “We just have to tighten up a couple things.” Morton, who will start Friday against the Mets, had not allowed a home run in his previous 34 innings pitched dating to last season prior to Alfonso Soriano's first of two home runs.

No rest for the uncommon

Not all of the Pirates players will skip town for some R and R during the All-Star break. Although he declined to disclose names, Hurdle said some players are planning to stay in town and remain “engaged” in baseball activity next week, whether he wants them to.

“I've been the guy who's had the group where the more days off, the better, and that's understandable,” Hurdle said when asked if he's had players opt to stay and work out in the past. “This group is uncommon. And to be elite in any sport, you have to be uncommon. … I've challenged these guys from spring training on that if we want to go places we've never been, we have to do things we've never done. You can't do the same old, same old and expect to go somewhere different.”

Missing their ace

Mets right-hander Matt Harvey will skip his scheduled start Saturday against the Pirates, making it more likely he could start the All-Star Game. Harvey is 7-2 with a 2.35 ERA and leads the league with 147 strikeouts.

Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at kprice@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib. The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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