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Pirates notebook: Hurdle keeps faith in right-field turnaround

| Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013, 7:45 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates first baseman Garrett Jones strikes out with the bases loaded to end the third inning in front of the Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz on Tuesday, July 2, 2013, at PNC Park.

The Pirates are still waiting for someone to step up and claim the everyday job in right field.

Travis Snider, Jose Tabata and Garrett Jones have gotten playing time in right this year, and each has failed to live up to expectations.

Through Wednesday, Pirates right fielders ranked last in the National League in total bases, batting average (.229), on-base percentage (.292), slugging percentage (.363) and OPS (.654). They were 12th in RBI (37) and tied for 12th in home runs (nine).

Snider is on the 15-day disabled list with a sore left big toe. Tabata has been limited to 61 games due to a DL stint. Jones, who also splits time at first base, has hit .206 in his 19 games in right field.

“If we can get somebody to go out and man that position, that can definitely help,” manager Clint Hurdle said Thursday. “I also believe we can keep going at it the way we have up to this point in the season.”

Then again, Hurdle doesn't have much choice. The Pirates were unable to swing a trade for a right fielder. Their best option in the farm system is Andrew Lambo, who has spent most of the past six seasons at Double-A.

For now, Hurdle will continue to mix and match players depending upon pitching matchups and who's hottest at the plate.

“One of our strengths is keeping everybody involved when we think they can match up better, keeping them fresh so when you ask them to come off the bench it's not like they haven't hit in 10 days,” Hurdle said.

Let's make a deal

Over the past several weeks, Hurdle got frequent updates from general manager Neal Huntington about ongoing trade talks. Hurdle said some clubs tried to use the Pirates' streak of 20 losing seasons as a negotiating ploy.

“There were some comments made about how important it was for us to do something because of the position we're in,” Hurdle said. “There were some general managers who thought they could remind us that we've lost 20 years in a row, that maybe we'd overlooked that and we might want to rethink how much we want to spend on a certain player.”

The Pirates wound up making no moves at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Hurdle said things never reached a point where he was disappointed that a deal he expected to be made did not materialize.

“No, not even close,” Hurdle said. “I was in on every conversation.”

Rodriguez progressing

Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez (forearm tightness) was slated to throw again from flat ground Thursday. Rodriguez said the plan was to toss from 60 feet until he felt “loose.” Rodriguez said he threw from 100 feet Wednesday.

“I think I can come back soon,” Rodriguez said. “But I need to throw hard first. … Once I get my first bullpen, then I'm ready (to consider a timetable).”

There's no word when Rodriguez, on the disabled list since June 6, will be cleared to throw off a mound.

“We're still evaluating his long toss,” Hurdle said. “He's very encouraged with the improvements and developments.”

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

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