Pirates notebook: Torre admits umpires erred on call at plate

| Thursday, June 19, 2014, 2:48 p.m.

Pirates catcher Russell Martin made the correct play at home plate during the third inning of Wednesday night's game, manager Clint Hurdle reiterated Thursday.

Joe Torre, with whom Hurdle spoke about the play, agreed. The executive vice president of baseball operations for MLB offered the following statement Thursday afternoon:

“Last night's play at home plate was one of the most difficult calls that our umpires have faced this season, given that the positioning of the catcher at home plate was necessary to record the force out. After evaluating the play and the details of the review, we recognize that this play was not the type that should have resulted in a violation of Rule 7.13.

“The goal of Rule 7.13 is to prevent egregious home plate collisions, and despite how challenging these situations can be, we have made important progress in accomplishing that goal.”

Hurdle said earlier in the day he believed MLB was taking a “much deeper look” at the application of the rule Torre referenced, which was used to overturn an out call on the field after a crew chief review.

“It's a force play, so his foot has to be on the plate,” Hurdle said. “It's not the same as creating a lane for a runner sliding. Once the ball's in his glove and his foot's on the plate, he's out. Wherever the runner is, he's out. And (Martin) did everything humanly possible to get out of the way to clear the lane with a back roll, and the runner slid completely across the plate with no obstruction. He made the play he was supposed to make.”

Martin said it was nice for MLB to confirm what he believed was a missed call.

“It's the first year of replays and stuff like that, and there are going to be times when guys make mistakes,” he said. “Hopefully they don't repeat those mistakes. I think everybody in baseball understood there's really nothing else you can do in that situation.”

Walker to rehab in Florida

Second baseman Neil Walker (appendectomy) will be involved in a simulated game Friday in Bradenton. He could take part in either another sim game or a full workout day Saturday and is expected to start at second base for High-A Bradenton on Sunday.

After that, Hurdle said, there will be a discussion whether Walker is comfortable joining the Pirates on Monday and being activated Tuesday, or whether he would like to play one more game with Bradenton to get more at-bats before being activated Wednesday.

Cole nearing return; Liriano progressing

Hurdle said Gerrit Cole (shoulder fatigue) was feeling good after a 64-pitch sim game Wednesday and is scheduled to throw 85 pitches in another one Monday in Tampa, Fla.

If all goes well, he could come off the disabled list and pitch June 28 at home against the New York Mets.

Francisco Liriano (strained oblique) threw 50 pitches from 80 feet Wednesday.

The Pirates plan to become more aggressive with his return-to-pitch program, Hurdle said.

Snider for the K

Bench players have to be ready for anything. Just ask Travis Snider, who pitched in the ninth inning against the Reds on Wednesday — the first time he has pitched since his freshman year of high school.

He gave up two runs and one hit, walked two, struck out one and threw 19 pitches, topping out at 86 mph.

“It was fun,” Snider said. “Tough day for the ERA there but settled down there and was able to throw some strikes when it mattered to the last hitter. I'll remember that one forever.”

Snider was referring to his strikeout of Joey Votto — swinging, no less — to end the inning.

“That ball will probably end up in an office at home, you would think,” Hurdle said. “There are a lot of really good pitchers who probably haven't struck out Joey Votto, let alone get two swings and misses. So we can have fun with it, but he got Joey Votto to swing and miss. Twice.”

Snider said he's definitely keeping the ball.

“I don't think Joey would want to sign it for me, but that would be pretty cool,” he said. “Aside from that, it's going to go up with the rest of the memorable moments in my career.”

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

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