Pirates notebook: Search for offense continues
By Rob Biertempfel
Published: Saturday, July 20, 2013, 5:42 p.m.
CINCINNATI — Andrew McCutchen swings the most reliable bat in an otherwise unreliable offense. But even he is not sure whether the Pirates will — or if they should — go for broke to acquire a slugger before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
“I don't know,” McCutchen said. “I'm not really worried about it. All I can do is just work with what we have. It doesn't really change anything for us, because we'll still have to keep going and keep fighting. We've been winning, so, regardless of what we do (trade-wise) or even if we keep things the same, we're still going to keep winning because nothing changes.”
A 5-3 loss Friday against the Cincinnati Reds was a perfect display of the shortcomings that could prevent the Pirates from claiming their first playoff berth since 1992. They are vulnerable if their starter falters, they cannot string together hits and their bench is thin.
Francisco Liriano had an off night, and the Reds built a five-run lead. The Pirates rallied with three homers, but they all were solo shots. In the ninth inning, all manager Clint Hurdle had left on his bench to face closer Aroldis Chapman was Josh Harrison, Michael McKenry and Brandon Inge.
“We have a very good grasp on what we could use more of,” Hurdle said, without elaborating. “We'll keep those conversations in-house. We're definitely looking to improve our club. It's always an interesting process to go through, with some of the posturing and dancing that goes on initially.”
Late Friday night, word came out of Chicago that White Sox outfielder Alex Rios was removed, uninjured, from the game against Atlanta. The Pirates, who could use an upgrade in right field, recently sent a scout to gather info about Rios. Also, High-A Bradenton shortstop Alen Hanson, one of the Pirates' top prospects, was pulled from the second game of a doubleheader after just two at-bats.
It was the perfect storm of circumstances. Twitter exploded with posts that said Rios was seen hugging teammates in the dugout.
Soon #HugWatch was trending in two time zones. The chatter was mentioned on MLB Network's nightly highlights show. Around midnight, Pirates minor league pitcher Robby Rowland posted an astute observation: “Twitter gets real entertaining at the trade deadline!”
It turned out to be much ado about nothing. White Sox manager Robin Ventura revealed Rios was benched for not hustling on a routine play. Rios was back in Chicago's lineup Saturday.
“I absolutely can tune that out,” Hurdle said. “We live in an age when nobody cares if they're right; they just want to be first. I definitely unplug.”
More trade winds
The Pirates have some interest in Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau, who is making $14 million this season and will become a free agent this winter. According to Twins.com, the Pirates likely are not among the six teams listed in the no-trade clause in Morneau's contract. ... Jon Heyman of CBSsports.com said the Pirates “have interest” in outfielder Hunter Pence, but the San Francisco Giants are not inclined to trade him. The Pirates pursued Pence in 2011, but balked when they found the asking price would have included Starling Marte.
Planet of the aches
General manager Neal Huntington revealed Saturday that right-hander Kyle McPherson (elbow) had Tommy John surgery on July 10 and could be out up to a year. McPherson was a candidate for a rotation spot in spring training this year. ... Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez (forearm tightness) and righty James McDonald (shoulder discomfort) tentatively are scheduled to begin throwing programs this week. ... Second baseman Neil Walker (oblique) went 0 for 3 Friday in his first rehab game with Triple-A Indianapolis. Walker was scheduled to play seven innings Saturday. ... Hurdle said lefty Jeff Locke (lower back soreness) threw a “clean and efficient” bullpen session Friday, and should be good to go without restrictions Sunday against the Reds. “I don't think we'll have him under a microscope,” Hurdle said.
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates seek to tap Alvarez’s remaining upside
- Pirates notebook: Closer Grilli sharp in brief outing
- Martin would consider extending stay with Pirates
- New Pirates pitcher Eppley brings special delivery to team’s staff
- Volquez is Pirates’ latest reclamation project
- Spring training breakdown: Twins 6, Pirates 5
- Pirates’ Wilk thrown a curve in South Korea
- Leyland content in new role with Tigers, rules out a return to Pirates
- Pirates notebook: Morton shows off new weapon
- Pirates outfielder Snider looks sharp in return to action
- Pirates notebook: McCutchen arrives, vowing to ‘get better’