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Pirates manager Hurdle isn't debating with his pitchers

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Friday, April 20, 2012
 

When he ponders making a pitching change, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle never bothers to ask the starter if he feels up to working one more inning.

"It's a waste of time," Hurdle said. "What's he going to tell you• ‘I can get one more guy.' They can always get one more guy. I get it."

When Hurdle figures a pitcher is done, he's done. There's no need for debate.

"He's right," right-hander Kevin Correia said. "If he'd ask me, I'd always say I can go another inning. He's pretty much never going to get a real answer. I think they know from watching pitchers long enough that they can tell when we get tired."

So far this season, Pirates starters have thrown fewer pitches per outing than any other rotation in the National League. But that doesn't mean Hurdle is afraid to let his starters work deep into games.

Even early in the season, none of the Pirates' starters have a pitch limit. Game circumstances and performance are what matter.

"We're not using 100 pitches as a yardstick," Hurdle said. "What I look for is the angle, the crispness of the pitches. I watch how the other team's swings are showing up. Then I just try to use common sense."

Pitching coach Ray Searage has a say in the decision to take out a starter. Hurdle also goes to the catcher for input.

Correia on Sunday didn't have much downward angle in the first few innings, but he still kept the San Francisco Giants from scoring. In the fifth, the ball started to rise, and the Giants scored a run. In the sixth, two more runners reached base.

"He said, ‘I feel good,' and I believed that," Hurdle said. "But my job is to take pitchers out before they give up runs. It's the walk of shame when you have to go and take out a guy after he's given up three or four runs."

Correia left with a 2-1 lead after throwing 91 pitches. The Pirates won, 4-1 and Correia picked up his first win.

"If he leaves you in there and you make him look bad by giving up some runs, the next time you're coming out a little bit earlier," Correia said. "If you make him look good, you're going to have a longer leash."

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