| Sports

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Pirates notebook: Mercer might see more action at 2nd base

Pirates/MLB Videos

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Pirates podcasts

  • Loading...

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Thursday, July 25, 2013, 3:00 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Neil Walker's funk against left-handed pitching could mean Jordy Mercer will get more starts at second base.

“It's an option,” manager Clint Hurdle said Thursday, when Mercer was in the lineup against Washington Nationals lefty Gio Gonzalez. “Neil and I have talked about it.”

A switch-hitter, Walker is batting .193 with a .435 OPS against left-handers. Against righties, he's hitting .254 with an .800 OPS. In 40 at-bats this year against lefties, Mercer is batting .325 with a 1.025 OPS.

“Neil's doing everything he can to get better,” Hurdle said. “He's aware of the splits.”

Walker came off the disabled list Tuesday after missing time with a sore oblique. Hurdle said that also factored into the decision to give Walker the day off Thursday.

Hurdle said the option of Walker giving up switch-hitting “hasn't even been broached yet.”

Tabata on mend

Jose Tabata was out of the lineup after being hit by a pitch on the right forearm the night before.

“He got splattered pretty good,” Hurdle said.

Tabata took some swings before the game Thursday and said he was able to pinch-hit, if needed.

Hello, I must be going

Vic Black was in the shower around lunchtime Tuesday when Triple-A Indianapolis manager Dean Treanor called with news that Black was going to the big leagues.

“He told me to pack my bags and get out,” Black said. “I said, ‘All right,' then proceeded to stare at my bag and try to get it to pack itself. I didn't really grasp what was going on.”

The promotion came after Jason Grilli went on the disabled list with a strained forearm. Black, who made 29 outings in his first season at Indy, didn't have much time to process the information. His flight was due to leave in about three hours.

He sent a quick text message to his parents: “I'm going.” In Amarillo, Texas, Black's father picked up his cell phone and wondered, “Going where?”

“Usually when I say that, it means I'm going to lunch or something,” Black said with a laugh.

Black also called his sister and texted two of his best friends — one who is an Army helicopter pilot in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and another who coaches in Arkansas.

Eventually, Black told his folks that he was going to the big leagues, not to lunch. They made it to Washington in time to see the games Wednesday and Thursday.

Morton more aggressive

Righty Charlie Morton is having more success this season against left-handed batters. Lefties have a .276 average and .833 OPS against Morton. Last year they had a .327 average and .914 OPS.

Morton was more aggressive against lefties Monday against the Nationals and used the inside part of the plate more often. Morton was inspired after watching A.J. Burnett pitch Saturday and handcuff Reds slugger Jay Bruce.

“A.J. is a big fan of pitching inside to lefties,” catcher Russell Martin said. “They've got about the same kind of movement on their fastballs. Charlie had that aggressive mindset, and it worked out for him.”

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

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.




Show commenting policy

Most-Read Pirates

  1. Gameday: Pirates at Twins, July 28, 2015
  2. Pirates notebook: No sign of improvement for RHP Sadler
  3. Cole collects MLB-best 14th win as Pirates take series against Nationals
  4. Pirates third baseman Ramirez’s last ride is about winning a ring
  5. Making splash at MLB trade deadline not always in buyers’ best interest
  6. Pirates minor league report: Moore a breakout star in Morgantown
  7. Starting 9: Pirates help and the illusion of help
  8. Pirates notebook: Ramirez thrown into spotlight upon joining Pirates
  9. Nationals pound Burnett, Pirates
  10. Gameday: Pirates vs. Nationals, July 26, 2015
  11. Pirates notebook: Cervelli cherishes All-Star gift from teammate Burnett