Share This Page

Pirates notebook: 5-man infield pays dividends

| Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013, 8:36 p.m.

ST. LOUIS — Tuesday night wasn't the first time Pirates utility man Josh Harrison had seen a five-man infield this season.

It was the first time he'd been part of one, however.

With St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Seth Maness batting and runners on first and third with one out in the 11th inning, the Pirates moved Harrison in from right field for a five-man infield — and it worked. Maness grounded into a 6-9-3 double-play.

“I just remember earlier this year in Milwaukee I was facing ... I think it was Francisco Rodriguez, and it was second and third and one out in the ninth inning and they brought in a fifth man, but I've never been on the defensive end of it,” Harrison said. “It was weird, but it was good. The batboy brought me out my glove right after they put (Allen) Craig on so I wasn't out there with my outfield glove at second base.”

That wasn't the only unusual defensive play that paid off for the Pirates. In the eighth inning, they shifted Neil Walker to short right field. He made a leaping catch on a line drive by pinch hitter Matt Adams to end the inning.

“We had a couple of chances where things looked a little unorthodox-crazy defensive-wise, but the scouting reports and everything, we just trusted it, and guys were in the right position to make plays,” Harrison said.

If you need a winter job ...

Russell Martin made an impressive catch when Charlie Morton threw behind David Freese in the sixth inning Tuesday night with runners on second and third. That made manager Clint Hurdle say, “Are you kidding me?”

“(Pitching coach Ray Searage) looked at me at the time and said that's one thing our catchers are really, really good at is catching that ball our pitcher throws behind the hitter, and I turned to (bench coach Jeff Banister) and said, ‘We don't work on that, do we?' ” Hurdle said. “He said, ‘No, we haven't put any time into that.' It's amazing. Absolutely amazing. I don't know how they do it. I had enough trouble catching it right in front of the plate with a little spin, a little break. … It's hockey goalie-type mentality.”

As fresh as one could hope

Because the Pirates had a day off Monday, their bullpen situation wasn't as dire Wednesday as it could have been. Relievers pitched eight of the 14 innings Tuesday. Jeanmar Gomez, who pitched three innings, was unavailable Wednesday, and Hurdle said they planned to have Jeff Locke in the bullpen just in case; it was his day for a side session. Justin Wilson, Vin Mazzaro and Bryan Morris pitched two out of three days going into Wednesday and were questionable.

Injury updates

Hurdle said Jason Grilli and Wandy Rodriguez threw Tuesday — not Wednesday, as he originally thought they would — with positive results. Grilli played catch up to 90 feet, and Rodriguez threw 40 fastballs and changeups in the bullpen.

Long games

Tuesday's 14-inning game matched the Pirates' longest of the season and was their longest time-wise (four hours, 55 minutes). They had one other 14-inning game this season — June 30 versus Milwaukee — that lasted 4:12 and resulted in a 2-1 win. It was the Pirates' 15th extra-inning game of the season — they're 9-6 in those game — and came almost a year to the day after the Pirates and Cardinals played a 19-inning game at Busch Stadium on Aug. 19, 2012. The Pirates won, 6-3.

Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at kprice@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.

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.