Pirates notebook: Hurdle sends GM trade wish list
MIAMI – With the major league trade deadline four days from Saturday, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said he knows general manager Neal Huntington is feverishly working to try to improve the club's roster just by examining at his email inbox.
“Neal's been at work for a while,” Hurdle said. “I got three emails back from him today on various (trade related) topics and subjects.”
Huntington asked Hurdle to send him a trade deadline wish list of sorts, which the front office would consult as it monitored the trade market.
“I had to prioritize out what I thought would make us stronger,” Hurdle said. “Whether it was position player, starting pitcher, bullpen or bench player — those are the four quadrants. We are working off a sheet — we had a list of names — and he had me prioritize.”
Hurdle did not reveal what he thought the club's biggest needs were when asked by reporters, but the Pirates rank 14th in the NL in right fielder OPS (.658), 13th in the NL in first baseman OPS (.785) and 13th in second baseman OPS (.712).
The Pirates have been linked to Cubs outfielder Nate Schierholtz and White Sox outfielder Alex Rios for several weeks, among other bats, and have had scouts in Chicago.
“We know who we are, what we are (and) what limitations we have,” Hurdle said.
Schierholtz and Rios would represent modest acquisitions in what is a barren market for impact bats but a blockbuster deal seems unlikely. Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton will probably not switch dugouts this weekend and Phillies ace Cliff Lee is most likely not headed to Western Pennsylvania.
“There's no pipe dreams,” Hurdle said. “We'd like to have Cliff Lee. We are not going to get Cliff Lee. Move on. We've kind of painted the picture pretty well what we are looking at.”
More trial and error
From a hitting philosophy standpoint, Hurdle does not believe in constantly making overhauls to swings and approaches. To explain his philosophy, he offered reporters an anecdotal story:
“I can remember growing up on the family farm. My (grandfather) used to take me to the well and explain to me the pressure of the pump,” Hurdle said. “If you believe there is water down there you keep pumping because as soon as you stop pumping you lose all the pressure you built up to that point. Sometimes when we throw our hands up on the air we have no idea how close we are to completing a task.”
The Pirates entered Saturday coming off their seventh shutout loss of the season, and ranked 13th in the NL in runs. Hurdle indicated the Pirates have increased their rate of experimentation, offensively.
“We have done a number of different things as far as training drills: we've added velocity, shortened velocity, added spin, taken away spin, shorten distance. We got a machine to throw better breaking balls,” Hurdle said. “We've got a handful (struggling hitters) that are working as hard.”
But at this point in the season are the Pirates simply what they are, offensively?
“That is a good possibility. We've got some warts. We know what they,” Hurdle said. “But I hate to tell guys ‘that's all you are is what you are right now.' They believe there is more…. From a strategizing component, I try to deal with reality.”
First baseman Garrett Jones sees progress despite results.
“We hit the ball hard (Friday). If we continue to do that, we are going to score runs,” Jones said. “Minor little things can be a world of difference.”
Burnett to pitch DH opener
A.J. Burnett will start the first game of Tuesday's doubleheader. He will match up against the Cardinals' Tyler Lyons. The Cardinals will start Lance Lynn in the second game. The Pirates have not announced a starter for that game.
Hurdle said Pirate pitcher Wandy Rodriguez (elbow) was “encouraged” by Friday's throwing and was scheduled to throw again from flat ground Saturday. … Catcher Russell Martin (knee) was held out of Saturday's lineup as expected after he said he “tweaked” his left knee in a home plate collision Friday night. Martin said he expects to be back in the lineup Sunday.