Felipe Vazquez’s arrest stirs up emotions in Pirates’ clubhouse | TribLIVE.com
Pirates/MLB

Felipe Vazquez’s arrest stirs up emotions in Pirates’ clubhouse

Jerry DiPaola
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Chris Archer delivers during the third inning against the Cardinals Tue3day, July 22, 2019, at PNC Park.

Chris Archer thought about his 14-year-old sister.

Clint Hurdle said he felt the need to make calls and seek advice from five trusted mentors.

As a team, the Pittsburgh Pirates went about the regular routine Tuesday of preparing to play a baseball game.

But it was difficult after two-time All-Star closer Felipe Vazquez, who has been with the team since 2016, was arrested Tuesday on child solicitation charges.

Vazquez’s locker in the Pirates clubhouse at PNC Park was emptied of all his belongings. He was in Allegheny County jail awaiting extradition to Lee County, Fla., where the case will be prosecuted.

Meanwhile, Pirates president Frank Coonelly, general manager Neal Huntington and Hurdle met with the team four hours before the game with the Seattle Mariners.

Archer described the mood in the Pirates clubhouse as “a little somber.”

“Whether it’s true or untrue, somebody’s life is going to be and has already been deeply affected by this,” he said. “We’re not the most joyful club right now, but we are professional and we do have a job to do. We want to win a ballgame, but this is in our mind. There is no hiding that.

“In the U.S., you’re innocent until proven guilty. Until due process is completely played out, we’re hoping that this stuff is not true.”

Everyone connected to the team has been advised not to speak publicly about the situation. Archer, however, met with reporters for nearly three minutes.

“There’s not a whole lot we can say, but I do have a 14-year-old sister,” he said. “So, it’s something that hits home. We’re human beings. You can feel it in your stomach. There’s definitely an uneasiness.

“We’ve addressed it, so it feels a little bit better. But for the sake of the (families), for the sake of the organization and for the sake of Felipe, we hope this gets resolved and we can all put it behind us as soon as possible.”

Vazquez’s arrest is another in a long line of off-the-field incidents this season that left black marks on the team. Those include:

A clubhouse fight between Vazquez and teammate Kyle Crick that left Crick with an index finger injury that needed season-ending surgery.

• A team-issued suspension of bullpen coach Euclides Rojas for an altercation with Crick.

Relief pitcher Keone Kela’s suspension for a confrontation with performance coach Hector Morales.

A benches-clearing brawl with the Cincinnati Reds that resulted in Major League Baseball suspending Jose Osuna, Crick and Kela, plus Hurdle.

• A 4-24 slump immediately after the All-Star break that ended all postseason hopes.

“The challenges we’ve had within the clubhouse, I’ve had some experience with some of them,” Hurdle said. “And then you call on mentors who’ve maybe had some experience.

“I have a group of men and women I can make calls to. Within the five of them, they’ve probably experienced everything there is to experience from a point of leadership.”

Hurdle’s message to the team included a call for personal accountability.

“You continue to look each other in the eye and say we need to get better,” Hurdle said. “We need to improve. We need to be pros. We talked about professional maturity and respect.

“Yeah, you’re the manager, and it’s part you’re the father and it’s part you’re the grandfather. And then you have to be transparent with them as well that life can be hard. Sport can be hard. You can get your heart broken in a lot of different spots.”

The Pirates have a relatively inexperienced roster that is missing veterans such as A.J. Burnett, Francisco Cervelli, Andrew McCutchen and Russell Martin who have helped hold the team together in the past.

“I believe we have some strong leadership emerging,” Hurdle said, “and some of it even stood up (Tuesday). We’re growing.”

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Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Sports | Pirates
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