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Pirates notebook: Hurdle familiar with Ike Davis' lineage

Rob Biertempfel
| Wednesday, April 23, 2014, 7:21 p.m.
Pirates first baseman Ike Davis bats against the Reds on Wednesday, April 23, 2014, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates first baseman Ike Davis bats against the Reds on Wednesday, April 23, 2014, at PNC Park.
Pirates first baseman Ike Davis tags out the Reds' Devin Mesoraco during the sixth inning Wednesday, April 23, 2014, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates first baseman Ike Davis tags out the Reds' Devin Mesoraco during the sixth inning Wednesday, April 23, 2014, at PNC Park.

Ron Davis, father of recent Pirates pickup Ike Davis, pitched in the major leagues from 1978-88, which is roughly the same period when Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was a player.

“Oh, man. I've been thinking about that ever since Ike came over,” Hurdle said Wednesday. “He was good. He had a string of years when that guy was tough. Threw hard, sunk it.”

A right-handed reliever, Ron Davis was an American League All-Star in 1981 and finished with 130 saves. Hurdle did not get many at-bats against Ron, but he made the most of them — going 2 for 2 with three RBIs.

“What? Really?” Hurdle said with a laugh. “Don't bring that up when Ron rolls in to town.”

When he was at Arizona State, Ike wore No. 39. It's the number his dad wore with the New York Yankees (1979-81), Minnesota Twins (1982-86) and Chicago Cubs (1986-87).

When Ike joined the New York Mets, however, he switched to No. 29 because Bobby Parnell already claimed No. 39. Ike wears No. 15 with the Pirates, as No. 39 belongs to Jason Grilli and Bryan Morris has No. 29.

“Numbers are just numbers to me,” Ike said with a shrug. “I'm not going to ask Jason or Bryan to switch.”

Martin scratched

About 75 minutes before game time, catcher Russell Martin was taken out of the lineup and replaced by Chris Stewart.

An email from the team said the move was made “per the manager's discretion” and no further information was available.

Cumpton time

When asked whether the Pirates had decided on a pitcher for Thursday's game against the Cincinnati Reds, Hurdle answered with a flat, “No.”

He was being disingenuous. Minutes after the game, Hurdle confirmed right-hander Brandon Cumpton will start against the Reds.

Cumpton was scratched from his scheduled start Wednesday for Triple-A Indianapolis. He will fill in for Wandy Rodriguez, who is on the 15-day disabled list due to right knee inflammation.

Last year, Cumpton went 2-1 with a 2.05 ERA in six outings (five starts) for the Pirates.

Ishikawa moves on

First baseman Travis Ishikawa cleared waivers and was outrighted to Indianapolis but declined the assignment and became a free agent. Ishikawa was designated for assignment Saturday after the Pirates acquired Davis.

Polanco getting closer

During an interview Wednesday afternoon with MLB Network Radio, Hurdle was asked about the progress top prospect Gregory Polanco is making at Indianapolis. Through 18 games, Polanco batted .419 with 20 RBIs and a 1.104 on-base plus slugging percentage.

“I talked to (Indy manager) Dean Treanor today and he assured me that (Polanco) is not major league-ready, and Dean needs to have him for a little bit longer time,” Hurdle said.

Hurdle paused.

“That's a joke,” Hurdle said. “He's in a good place. This kid's playing well. There still are some things to work on — (but) he's not so far away you can't see him. Every day he's getting a little bit closer.”

Walker's power surge

Neil Walker went into Wednesday's game with six home runs, one behind National League leader Mark Trumbo. Even if Walker doesn't stay on pace for 46 homers, his power surge is legitimate. He's making better contact than he was a year ago.

Walker missed part of the 2012 season because of a back injury. He came out of the 2013 season healthy.

“He worked extremely hard over the winter,” Hurdle said. “It was a winter when he got to work on getting stronger, and that gave him some momentum coming into spring training. The winter before, it was all about rehab.”

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

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