Rossi: Walker's back another blow to Bucs
Neil Walker's bad back is at the crossroads. It has company.
Things are not good for the Pirates right now. Walker having a bad back isn't helping.
That's rough, but so is a baseball season. So is baseball, actually. More than most people realize. Bodies break down over 162 games. Ligaments tear. Bones break. The occasional oblique strains (really) and backs tighten.
It's just that this baseball season had started to seem so promising for the Pirates before a weekend that went all wrong.
Make that a second straight weekend that went all wrong.
Losing a series to San Diego probably didn't doom the Pirates to their 21st October without postseason baseball in the last 22 years. However, failing to win this series after settling for a split at Arizona last weekend — well, there were better ways for the Pirates to position themselves in the playoff chase.
It feels like this is going to be a chase for the Pirates, too. Hard to imagine a squad overcoming so much significant trouble to overtake Milwaukee for the division, especially since the Pirates are 3-10 against the first-place Brewers. Six of those losses came in April, when the Pirates were lousy.
Of course, Pedro Alvarez could throw to first base in April.
Gerrit Cole could pitch in April.
Andrew McCutchen could do everything that he does in April. The same goes for Walker.
Remember last summer and the swooning Pittsburghers did over “Cutch,” “El Toro,” the “Real Deal” and “Cole 45”?
Time waits for no men, perhaps especially the most promising of young ballplayers. Against the Padres on Sunday at PNC Park, the Pirates did get a swinging strikeout from Alvarez. He pinch-hit in the eighth inning.
Alvarez has 33 plate appearances since the All-Star break. He had 36 home runs last season. Let that linger before forming an opinion on what his throwing troubles could cost the Pirates over their final 45 games.
They're not going anywhere unless Alvarez gets into the lineup consistently and carries an offense that failed to score a run after the first inning in each of the past three games. Alvarez should start against Detroit on Monday night, and since the game is at home he will just have to go ahead and hold the hot corner. He has to try, anyway.
Maybe the Pirates can't count on Alvarez over these final two months. Can they count on either McCutchen or Walker?
McCutchen is said to be progressing from his avulsion fracture of the ... look, it's his left side, it's still being heavily iced and nobody should expect him to look MVP-like when he does return. Fake a swinging motion. Pretend to throw. Imagine a piercing pain in your side. You get the idea.
Now think about fielding a ground ball with a back so sore that you have to walk on your heels, as Walker did Sunday through the clubhouse. Again, you get the idea.
To manager Clint Hurdle's credit, not one of his players dared hint at being worried before or after an 8-2 loss to San Diego. They were so defiant that a second look at the scorecard was required to verify that McCutchen, Alvarez and Walker weren't the 3-4-5 hitters.
The 3-4-5 hitters were Josh Harrison, Ike Davis and Jordy Mercer.
Not placing McCutchen or Walker on the 15-day disabled list was a calculated risk by general manager Neal Huntington.
Still, some sort of move has to be coming soon because there is a way to calculate what another 12 at-bats in one week by Michael Martinez might do to the Pirates' playoff chances.
The Pirates' remaining games are against teams with a .501 winning percentage. They just ended a 50-35 run against teams with a .497 winning percentage. Their 12-20 start came against teams with a .519 winning percentage.
Basically, nobody has any idea how good this team is, even when healthy.
A .500 finish gets them to 85 wins, and nobody knows if those will be enough for a playoff berth, either.
All anybody knows is that Walker's bad back is at the crossroads. Hurdle said that Sunday before the Pirates played with a lineup that reminded fans of when PNC Park was the gallows.
Show commenting policy
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.
- Rossi: Rutherford falling apart, too
- Woman struck by foul ball in ‘horrid’ scene at Pirates game
- Authorities investigating 15-20 dogs found dead in Hopewell
- Steelers bring in 2 more cornerbacks for visits
- Methane leaks reportedly decrease in Pennsylvania
- Planned Smallman Place condos in Strip District selling fast
- Steelers receiver Brown skipping voluntary offseason workouts
- Arnold fireman falls from truck
- Etheridge, Pumpkins tickets on sale soon
- Pittsburgh seeks proposals to offer water, sewer line insurance
- Pittsburgh man taken for wild ride on Route 28