Results tagged ‘ ESPN ’
Happy Opening Day Pirate Fans! The season is finally here (although, the weather sure doesn’t seem like it). Opening day brings hope to every fan, no matter what team. Fans everywhere believe this could be the year and that anything’s possible. It’s incredible to see so many fans packed outside Wrigley Field with hope in their eyes despite an 18 consecutive losing season (Pirates) or a 100 + year drought of a World Series title (Cubs).
- The forecast in Chicago today is 40′s with rain but the game should be played with no delays. Back in Pittsburgh it’s snowing, so bundle up and get ready for a new season of baseball.
- Right-hander Kevin Correia will get his first career opening day start in nine big league seasons. He will face Right-hander Ryan Dempster.
Correia told Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com the importance of the team starting off strong, “It is nice to get off to a good start. It just kind of gets your confidence rolling going into the year. If you start off losing games, it’s just not conducive to getting on a good streak. When you’re in a position like we are, any time we can win a series, it’s going to be important – especially against division rivals.”
- Ryan Doumit will be the starting catcher for the fourth straight season. Chris Snyder, who is the Bucs primary catcher started the season on the disabled list (back soreness).
Manager Clint Hurdle explained his decision of picking Doumit over Jason Jaramillo, who had a great spring, was because of experience. Hurdle told Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com, “I think we’ve got enough young guys breaking in [on Friday] that we’ll rely upon Ryan with some experience behind the plate, We’ll use both. I know both of them have worked very hard, and both of them are trying to take ownership of trying to be the best catcher they can be to handle the staff.”
- Clint Hurdle will Manage the Bucs for the first time today. This special day also marks Hurdle’s 20th opening day as either a Manager, Coach or a player.
Hurdle told Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune, “I have always experienced some anxious anticipation on Opening Day, regardless of the role I had at the time.”
“It’s always special, and it always will be.”
- Mike and Mike of ESPN are live from Wrigley Field from 6-10 am today. Fans were packed very early to watch the show and to wait for the gates to be open.
Here are the opening day lineups:
PiratesJose Tabata (LF), Neil Walker (2B), Andrew McCutchen (CF), Lyle Overbay (1B), Pedro Alvarez (3B), Ryan Doumit (C), Garrett Jones (RF), Ronny Cedeno (SS), Kevin Correia (RHP)
Kosuke Fukudome (RF), Starlin Castro (SS), Marlon Byrd (CF), Aramis Ramirez (3B), Carlos Pena (1B), Geovany Soto (C), Alfonso Soriano (LF), Darwin Barney (2B), Ryan Dempster (RHP)
*Photo credit: @Maholm28
The Pirates will face the New York Yankees in Tampa, Fla., at 1:05 pm. The game will broadcast on FSN Pittsburgh (for the last time before it transitions into ROOT Sports).
Right-hand pitcher Kevin Corriea will face left-hander Manny Bauelos.
- Chris Snyder was scratched from the lineup today with a stiff back. Snyder missed two weeks due to the injury. He caught against the Orioles on Thursday night for the first time since being sidelined and it was reported that he was sore on Saturday.
Snyder told Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune, “Maybe I did a little too much, too soon. We’re going to have to see (about the severity), come next week. I couldn’t tell you right now.”
Just two spring training games remain, and two exhibition games in Philadelphia before the season starts on April 1st. Snyder being out could change the pitching plans.
Manager Clint Hurdle told Biertempfel of the Tribune, “It could have an impact on our catching situation. We need to re-evaluate and revisit what the issues are. For it to happen again after just catching a night game … we’ll see. It definitely could jeopardize what we do with the roster and who goes with us.”
Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that if Snyder is out for the beginning of the year, Ryan Doumit will be the opening day catcher with Jason Jaramillo as the backup.
Jaramillo will replace Snyder in the lineup this afternoon.
- Earlier this morning, the Pirates cut four players from camp: Left-hander Brian Burres, Infielder Andy Marte, Catcher Dusty Brown and Infielder/Outfielder Corey Wimberley (read more here).
With Marte cut from big league camp, Steve Pearce makes the Pirates opening day roster for the first time in his career (read more here).
- James McDonald is scheduled to pitch in a minor league game today in Tampa against the Yankees Triple-A team. This marks McDonald’s first outing since March 11th. The Pirates would like him to throw about 50 pitches.
Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that If for some reason McDonald is not ready to start on April 6th, Jeff Karstens would be asked to spot start in the rotation. If not, Karstens will remain as the long inning relief pitcher in the ‘pen.
- Three relievers remain for two final spots in the bullpen. Lefty Garrett Olson and Right-handers Mike Crotta and Chris Leroux.
- On Friday’s edition of Baseball tonight, Buster Olney discussed what must go right and what could go wrong for all 30 major league teams. Here is what he had to say about the Bucs:
Olney: “For the Pittsburgh Pirates. What must go right? The rising group of talent, positions players. Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez, Jose Tabata must continue to grow. You know what? Scouts really like the high ceiling players they’re putting together.
Now, what could go wrong for the Pirates? The rotation appears to be thin again. This torpedo, the Pirates went 57-105 last season. Neal Huntington, their General Manager, is in the last year of his contract. They are not committed to him long term.”
Lineup: Tabata LF, Walker 2B, McCutchen CF, Overbay 1B, Alvarez 3B, Jones RF, Cedeno SS, Jaramillo C, Correia RHP
Pitchers: Correia, Crotta, Veras
Lineup: Gardner CF, Jeter SS, Teixeira 1B, Rodriguez 3B, Swisher RF, Posada DH, Dickerson LF, Nunez 2B, Romine C
Pitchers: Bauelos, TBA
Clint Hurdle was announced as the new Pirates Manager on November 15th, 2010. Just four months later and Hurdle has already played a huge effect on the young team. It’s noticeable in the players confidence, attitudes and approach during games.
Ask any player about their new skipper and you are bound to hear a list of great comments –nothing at all negative.
Hurdle is loud and honest, but what’s most important, he is positive and inspirational.
I’ve been a big fan of Hurdle’s for many years and believe the best decision the Pirates made this offseason was hiring him.
Hurdle is an amazing person . His positivity is captivating. He’s an inspiration, to not just the players, but to everyone.
Kyle Stark of ESPN wrote an excellent story on Hurdle’s task ahead of him. And his approach is simple. “Why not us? Why not now?”
I encourage everyone of you to read this article, despite who you root for (Be sure to watch the video on ‘pressure facing prospects as well).
*photo credit: Yahoo! Sports
Tim Kurkjian of ESPN said on Baseball Tonight on Thursday that Andrew McCutchen is a star on the rise.
“I saw him today. Matt Diaz, one of his new teammates told me, ‘this guy, who is hitting 3rd now, might drive in 100 runs, might score 100 runs and his defense is so good he might prevent 100 runs.’ Diaz called him a ’300 run guy’ –which is pretty hard to do. He told me he worked with McCutchen when McCutchen was 15-years-old. And Diaz said he gave him three lessons of hitting and said, ‘I can’t teach you anything else. You got it now.’ He said, ‘his hands at 15 were faster than mine and I was in the big leagues.’ So this kid is a polished ballplayer –not just some really great athlete trying to play baseball.”
*Photo credit: Yahoo! Sports
The Pirates will face the New York Yankees tonight at 7:05 in Tampa, FLA. Kevin Correia will start for the Bucs against Bartolo Colon. You can listen to the game here.
- McKechnie Field served as the backdrop for an ESPN and Gillette commercial which was filmed this afternoon with the Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria and ESPN’s Kenny Mayne.
- Steve Pearce, Andy Marte, Josh Fields and Garrett Atkins are all fighting for the one bench spot on the roster. Expect the roster to start dwindling down, one of the four could be getting home soon.
- Former Bucco Brendan Donnelly has decided to retire. He told MLB.com on Tuesday, “I’m pretty grateful for the career I’ve had,” Donnelly says. “I’ve done about everything in baseball that a player can do. I got to the big leagues, won World Series, made an All-Star team, and made a lot of friends along the way.”
Donnelly, 39, was released by the Pirates on July 29 after posting a 5.58 ERA and allowing 26 walks in 30.2 innings.
Donnelly retires with a 32-10 record, 3.22 ERA with 369 strikeouts in 385 1/3 innings.
- Catcher Chris Synder has been working hard this offseason and spring, on both aspects of his game. Snyder batted just .207 combined with both the Diamondbacks and Pirates and committed three errors after being acquired by the Bucs.
“You work on everything in the spring,” Snyder said, “but one thing for me I want to improve on is being a little bit of a more all-around hitter. The last couple years, it’s been kind of all-or-nothing. I’ve hit the ball and driven in some runs, but the average has gone down and the strikeouts have gone up.
“And I’m working on everything behind the plate. Receiving and calling the game, being a little bit more vocal and throwing to the bases more.”
- Speaking of catchers, Ryan Doumit’s fate with the ball club is still up in the air. The Pirates have been actively trying to trade him, and his role with the Pirates is still not determined. There has been speculation that the Bucs may want to have a third catcher (Jason Jaramillo or Dusty Brown).
“We keep trying to puzzle the bench together and we have to figure out how they’re all going to fit,” Huntington said. “… In an ideal world, you probably don’t want to carry a third catcher.”
- The Pirates will face the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday. Paul Maholm will start for the Bucs (four innings), followed by Joel Hanrahan, Evan Meek, Chris Resop, Jeff Karstens and Tony Watson.
- John Bowker did travel with the team to Tampa for tonight’s game but he won’t be swinging the bat until tomorrow. Bowker (sore wrist) should be game ready by Friday.
Pitchers: Correia (4 innings), Morton (3 innings), D. McCutchen, Veras
Lineup: McCutchen CF, D’Arnaud 2B, Alvarez 2B, Diaz LF, Jones RF, Pearce 1B, Snyder C, Ciriaco SS, Correia P
Pitchers: Colon, Banuelos, Soriano, Feliciano, Turpen, Ayala
Lineup: Jeter SS, Martin C, Teixeira 1B, Rodriguez DH, Cano 2B, Jones LF, Chavez 3B, Maxwell RF, Mesa CF
Kyle Stark of ESPN named the Pirates the third Most Unimproved teams in the National League (the Mets were No. 1, Astros No. 2).
Stark also named the Pirates the No. 1 Least Recognizable Team (the Astros were No. 2, Royals No. 3).
“I might as well retire this category. What’s the point? The Pirates seem to win it every year, anyway. Here’s how I know exactly how faceless this team is: I cover baseball for a living. I kept a daily log book on every team’s transactions all winter. And even I couldn’t correctly identify the Pirates’ entire prospective Opening Day lineup this week. So there’s no telling how much money you could win if you walked into any tavern not located in the 412 area code and challenged your buddies to do it — even if you gave them Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez free of charge. It’s not a good sign when more Americans can name the lineup of the 1979 Pirates than the 2011 Pirates. But I’m betting that if I commissioned a Gallup poll, that’s exactly how it would turn out.”
Stark also took a jag at the Pirates, once again, mentioning the Bucs will pay Ross Ohlendorf $2.025 million for going 1-11.
ESPN writer Jayson Stark graded the National League Central on Tuesday and gave the Pirates a C+. Here is his thoughts on the Bucs offseason moves.
BIGGEST ADDITIONS: Lyle Overbay, Matt Diaz, Kevin Correia, Scott Olsen, Garrett Atkins, Joe Beimel, manager Clint Hurdle.
BIGGEST SUBTRACTIONS: Zach Duke, Lastings Milledge, Chan Ho Park, manager John Russell.
The task of making the Pirates respectable now falls to Clint Hurdle.
Look, it’s all relative. You don’t evaluate a Pirates offseason by the same standards you use to evaluate, say, a Yankees offseason, just the way a good year for Joe’s Computer Repair Shop isn’t quite the same thing as a good year for, say, Microsoft. So judged against what the Pirates were attempting to do, they did OK.
Jorge De la Rosa and Carl Pavano — both of whom they chased — would have been better rotation upgrades than Correia and Olsen. But Overbay, while he’s not exactly Adrian Gonzalez, should be an improvement over last year’s first-base hodgepodge. Diaz is a career .301/.350/.456 hitter. And there are potential bargains in their nonroster free-agent crop (Beimel, Atkins, Jose Veras, Fernando Nieve, Josh Fields).
Then there’s Hurdle, who will represent about as dramatic a change in the manager’s office, when you compare him with the soft-spoken Russell, as this team could have hired. So while it would be a monumental upset if this turns into the year the Buccos climb above Mount .500, they at least inched northward.
As I pointed out on Wednesday, ESPN’s Keith Law ranked the Pirates system No. 21 out of the 30 major league clubs.
On Thursday, Law delivered his Top 100 list, and two Buccos made the list.
Pitcher Jameson Taillon was named No. 30, and catcher Tony Sanchez was named No. 63.
Law mentions Taillon’s tendency to overthrow and the need for a changeup as the critiques in his write-up.
“[Sanchez has] above-average raw power and would have a chance to hit for average at the same time, making him a fringe All-Star at that position. He’s an extremely hard worker who ended up at Boston College without a scholarship but improved his body to the point where he not only made the team, but became its best player. I wouldn’t bet against him at this point.”-Keith Law on ESPN Insider Top 100 Prospects
Law’s Top 10 in the Pirates minor league system:
1) Jameson Taillon, RHP (30)
2) Tony Sanchez, C (63)
3) Luis Heredia, RHP
4) Stetson Allie, RHP
5) Rudy Owens, LHP
6) Jeff Locke, LHP
7) Justin Wilson, LHP
8) Bryan Morris, RHP
9) Starling Marte, OF
10) Zach Von Rosenberg, RHP
Law on the Pirates minor league system: “This system consists of a few high-end prospects, including three teenage power arms, followed by a dropoff. The big investment in prep arms in 2009 hasn’t yielded any major prospects yet, although it’s early.”
Law’s thoughts on Luis Heredia, who just missed the list: “will sit in the low 90s (mph) already with a good feel for the fastball. He’s very well-developed physically for a 16-year-old, with a big frame and the potential to get heavy, which is more of a long-term concern.”
- The Tampa Bay Rays have eight players in the top 100. The Toronto Blue Jays and Kansas City Royals each have six. The Houston Astros have only one player and The Milwaukee Brewers have zero, zilch (YIKES!). Every other team has at least two in the top 100.
The Pirates have signed reliever Jose Veras to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training.
Veras, 30, went 3-3 with a 3.75 ERA in 48 appearances with the Florida Marlins in 2010.
According to ESPNDesportes, Veras had other offers from the Giants, Rockies, Twins, Marlins, and Rays.
If he makes the major league roster, Veras will make $1 Million plus incentives.
Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reports: Free agent [pitcher] Jeff Francis still drawing interest from 7 clubs — Nationals, Royals, Pirates, Rangers, Rockies and both NY teams.
Francis, who will turn 30 on January 8th, went 4-6 with a 5.00 ERA for the Colorado Rockies during the 2010 season. Through 104.1 innings, he walked 23 and struck out 67. Francis missed the entire 2009 season recovering from a shoulder injury.
The Pirates are still looking to add starting pitching depth. The projected starters for this season are: Paul Maholm, Ross Ohlendorf, Kevin Correia and James McDonald with the fifth spot still open. Charlie Morton, Scott Olsen and Brad Lincoln are among the starters who will compete as the fifth starter at spring training.
Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports: Also Clint Hurdle’s familiarity w Francis’ injury history huge benefit when a guy is trying to rebound with a new team.
Jeff Francis is a pro, great teammate. If healthy, will help someone. If were me, I’d go to pitcher’s park. Give him some margin for error.