–The afternoon was chock full of news from the North Shore. First and foremost, the Pirates optioned catcher Tony Sanchez and starting pitcher Jeff Locke to Double-A Altoona in order to clear space for Marlon Byrd and John Buck on the 25-man roster. General manager Neal Huntington released a full statement:
“This move allows us to give Jeff Locke a short break. It also allows Tony Sanchez to get back to the Major Leagues as soon as the rules permit us to do so. In addition this gives us the opportunity to maintain a full roster until both Jeff and Tony can return to the club on September 3. That is when the Double-A season is over and when the club intends to recall both players.”
While the move to send an All-Star pitcher and a former first-round pick from the majors to Double-A, it makes more sense to do so than to send the players to Triple-A Indianapolis. If such a thing was done, the Pirates would have to abide by the MLB’s option rules that require players optioned to stay at the level for 10 days. Because the Curve’s season ends next week, the Pirates can bypass that and recall the two players shortly after rosters expand on Sunday.
–Marlon Byrd and John Buck officially joined the team today, and Byrd will start in right field and bat clean-up. Byrd boasts a .345 average against left-handed pitching this season, and gives the Pirates a bona fide clean-up hitter while Pedro Alvarez drops to hit fifth.
Jose Tabata will not lead off tonight despite doing so for much of the time Starling Marte has been out. Instead, Josh Harrison will lead-off as he owns a .444 average against lefties in 2013. While he’s only done that in 27 at-bats, Hurdle looks to open avenues for Harrison to keep that hot-hitting going.
“On-base percentage and the overall numbers against left-handed pitching,” Hurdle said. “They’re significantly different.”
–Much information came out regarding the long list of injuries faced by the Pirates at the moment. Most importantly, it looks like closer Jason Grilli is close to returning.
“If he feels good tomorrow, we’ll give him two days rest and then we anticipate a rehab outing in Altoona on Saturday,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “About one inning, 20 pitch maximum.’
If all goes well there, Grilli very well could re-join the club at some point next week.
In addition, Hurdle said Jeff Karstens is making progress on his return-to-throw program, and James McDonald threw 43 pitches in three innings yesterday.
“Physically he felt very good,” Hurdle said. We’re still working on repeating the delivery, the command but I think it was probably one of the more positive days he’s had since he’s been in the pitching program.”
Wandy Rodriguez met yesterday with Dr. James Andrews in Florida, who confirmed inflammation in the left forearm area. But, the report was encouraging enough that Rodriguez could go out on a rehab assignment soon.
In Triple-A, Travis Snider has continued to rehab after a toe injury landed him on the disabled list at the end of July.
“Travis is playing, he’s clustering at-bats right now,” Hurdle said. “He’s feeling better, game shape he’s getting there. He’s played nine innings multiple times. He’s probably closing in on 30 at-bats between the two spots, so he’s making progress all around, on the defensive side of the ball and at the plate.”
- Josh Harrison 2B
- Jordy Mercer SS
- Andrew McCutchen CF
- Marlon Byrd RF
- Pedro Alvarez 3B
- Gaby Sanchez 1B
- Russell Martin C
- Jose Tabata LF
- Charlie Morton P
- Nori Aoki RF
- Jean Segura SS
- Jonathan Lucroy C
- Aramis Ramirez 3B
- Carlos Gomez CF
- Caleb Gindl LF
- Scooter Gennett 2B
- Juan Francisco 1B
- Tom Gorzelanny P