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Pirates notebook: Mets manager upset with booing of Wright

Rob Biertempfel
| Sunday, July 14, 2013, 6:09 p.m.

New York Mets manager Terry Collins lashed out Sunday at Pirates fans who spent three days booing Mets third baseman David Wright.

“When you start booing David Wright, you better re-evaluate what's going on,” Collins said after the Mets' 4-2 win. “Because there's nobody who plays the game any harder or who epitomizes what you want a major league player to be than David Wright, for heaven's sakes.”

Sellout crowds at PNC Park loudly jeered Wright during pregame introductions and each time he came to bat. It was a reaction to Wright having passed over Pirates slugger Pedro Alvarez for the All-Star Home Run Derby. Last week, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, team broadcasters and other local media urged fans to let their feelings be known during the three-game weekend series.

Wright added Alvarez to the National League Derby team Thursday, when Carlos Gonzalez withdrew due to a sprained finger. Nonetheless, Wright still heard boos.

Collins believes the catcalls took a mental toll on Wright, who went 3 for 14 with one RBI in the series.

“I'm sure it did,” Collins said. “He's tired.”

Collins was drafted by the Pirates in 1971 and briefly played in their farm system. He managed the Pirates' Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo and was the big league club's bullpen coach in 1992-93.

“I love Pittsburgh. I lived here, I've been part of the organization,” Collins said. “I understand the (fans') frustration, but Pedro is on the team, after all.”

No early shutdown for Cole

The Pirates are keeping an eye on Gerrit Cole's workload, but do not expect to have to shut down the rookie pitcher before this season is over.

“We believe he's in a very good place to manage whatever's asked of him this season,” Hurdle said. “Everything has been monitored and measured systematically. We're going to be smart. And we're going to challenge him as well, because we want to grow him when it's appropriate. But there's not anything saying right now that he's going to be cut off prematurely. We think he's got the frame, the strength and the repeatable delivery to handle it.”

As a senior at UCLA in 2011, Cole threw 114 innings. Last year, Cole threw a total of 132 innings — 67 innings with High-A Bradenton, 59 with Double-A Altoona and six with Triple-A Indianapolis.

This year, Cole threw 68 innings with Indy before making his big league debut. He worked five innings Sunday, brining his total in the majors to 41 23 innings.

“There's a pitch limit for everybody in the organization,” general manager Neal Huntington said. “We don't want anybody throwing 5,000 pitches. For the sake of the future, we'll let you know after somebody has hit their limit.”

Taillon bombed

Jameson Taillon, the Pirates' top pitching prospect, was roughed up Saturday in a start for Double-A Altoona. In 3 13 innings, Taillon allowed 10 runs on 13 hits and one walk. He faced 23 batters and threw 75 pitches.

The barrage included a three-run homer by Akron's Jesus Aguilar and three doubles. Taillon (3-7, 3.75 ERA) also got six outs on the ground and none via fly balls.

“It's a good thing for these guys to face some adversity in the minor leagues, rather than face it for the first time up here,” Huntington said. “Jameson's a smart young man. This isn't going to sit well with him, and he's going to make an adjustment.”

Calming effect

The Pirates' bullpen has been so effective this season, it probably puts a little fear in some opposing batters late in games. It has an effect on the Pirates' hitters, too.

“I think our hitters feel when our bullpen gets in (the game), there's a settling effect,” Hurdle said. “I think there's a confidence factor. I think there's something there. When the bullpen comes into play, they settle down a little bit. They seem to take longer looks. We don't chase, we don't bite.”

The combination of shut-down relief pitching and clutch hits in the late innings explains why the Pirates have 24 comeback wins, six walkoff wins and a 42-2 record when leading after the seventh.

“It's been like that since game one for our bullpen,” said Andrew McCutchen, who delivered a game-winning single in the seventh Saturday. “It makes it easy for us, knowing they're doing what they're doing.”

Barmes believin'

During the previous homestand, Clint Barmes changed his walk-up music to “Don't Stop Believin',” a rock anthem recorded by Journey in 1981.

“Can't beat the '80s music,” Barmes, 34, said with a grin.

Barmes has always liked the song, but never used it as his in-game music. He made the switch after a few teammates talked him into it.

“If there's one song I'd play in the clubhouse before a game for the whole team, that would be it,” Barmes said. “It's a meaningful song. Great lyrics.”

Yet, there are no vocals in the snippet Barmes uses as he walks to the plate, only the opening notes played on the piano. When he came to bat last Monday, the crowd began singing the song after the piano faded out.

“I didn't expect that,” Barmes said. “It was nice. Almost gave me chills.”

Around the horn

With Thursday being an off day for both clubs, the Pirates and Cincinnati Reds will work out that afternoon at Great American Ballpark, then open a three-game series Friday. ... Total attendance for the weekend series against the New York Mets was 115,699, second-largest at PNC Park. The PNC Park record for a three-game series is 118,324, set June 24-26, 2011, against the Boston Red Sox. ... The Pirates' 56-37 record is their best at the All-Star break since 1975, when they were 55-33. The club record for wins before the break is 57, set in 1971. In 2010, the Pirates won 57 games — in the entire season. ... Thomas Tull, who is part of the Steelers ownership group, threw out a ceremonial first pitch Sunday. As CEO of Legendary Entertainment, Tull was involved in the recently released Jackie Robinson film “42.” He also was instrumental in Pittsburgh's selection as a filming site for “The Dark Knight Rises.”

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