Pirates notebook: Gomez eyes 'more aggressive' style

Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage (center) and catcher Russell Martin (55) talk with relief pitcher Jeanmar Gomez during the sixth inning against the Cubs on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, in Chicago.
Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage (center) and catcher Russell Martin (55) talk with relief pitcher Jeanmar Gomez during the sixth inning against the Cubs on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, in Chicago.
Photo by Getty Images
Rob Biertempfel
| Friday, April 11, 2014, 7:24 p.m.

MILWAUKEE — Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has not lost faith in Jeanmar Gomez.

Gomez had pitched more innings (7.0) than anyone in the bullpen going into Friday night's game against the Milwaukee Brewers but also has the highest ERA (7.71) and worst WHIP (1.71).

The right-handed long reliever has allowed twice as many hits (eight) as starter Edinson Volquez.

“We saw the role he was able to play last year (with) the effectiveness, the location, control and command,” Hurdle said. “He's still working through some things, trying to make a little adjustment.

“We'll watch some video and have a talk. I think we're onto something with him.”

Gomez said the changes he's making have nothing to do with his mechanics.

“It's more about my approach,” Gomez said. “I need to keep the ball down and get quick outs (and) be more aggressive. I've been behind in the count a lot, and I need to get that first-pitch strike.”

Wednesday, Gomez gave up three runs in the sixth inning and let the Chicago Cubs extend their lead to 7-1. He missed the strike zone on first pitches to Emilio Bonifacio (leadoff double), Anthony Rizzo (RBI double) and Mike Olt (RBI single).

Instead of taking Gomez out of the game, Hurdle sent him out to pitch the seventh.

“After he gave up three in that (sixth) inning, I thought it was important to get him back out there to try to get things back in line,” Hurdle said.

Gomez needed just nine pitches in the seventh, compared to the 28 he threw in the sixth, to set down the Cubs in order.

“That first inning was bad,” Gomez said. “The second, I was more aggressive. When you get that first-pitch strike, you have more opportunity to work the ball around the plate.”

Locke, Stewart to Indy

Left-hander Jeff Locke was reinstated from the disabled list and optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. Locke had been nursing a strained oblique, which he injured during spring training.

Last season, Locke went 10-7 with a 3.73 ERA and was named to the NL All-Star team.

Catcher Chris Stewart, on the mend from knee surgery, had his rehab assignment transferred to Indy. His workload behind the plate will be increased from five innings to seven innings to full games.

“We have different things mapped out — all predicated on how he feels the day after he's played,” Hurdle said. “He's been very aggressive with (the rehab). We want to make sure we use him the way we'll use him up here. He's got to play a full game, maybe back-to-back full games.

“There'll be a couple games when he comes in late. So, there's still some (rehab) time ahead of him.”

When Stewart had knee surgery March 19, he was projected to miss up to six weeks.

Nice hair!

Andrew McCutchen is featured in a “For the Love of the Game” spot, which will air during national game broadcasts on ESPN and Fox Sports 1 and also on MTV2 and MLB Network.

The 30-second ad includes an appearance by Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto, wearing a McCutchen-style dreadlocks wig.

Never surrender

According to Elias, Thursday marked only the second time since 1961 that the Pirates rallied to win at Wrigley Field after trailing by four or more runs in the seventh inning or later. The other happened May 6, 2000, when they scored six runs in the ninth inning for an 11-9 victory.

“We play nine (innings),” Hurdle said. “We're going to play to finish, regardless of what it looks like. We focus on the inning we have and the innings that are in front of us.

“We can't do anything about what's happened.”

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

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