Results tagged ‘ ray searage ’
On Friday (Day one of Piratefest) myself and several Pirates bloggers (Pirates Prospects, Rumbunter, Bucs Dugout, Pittsburgh Lumber Co.) were invited to a sit down interview with Pitcher Paul Maholm, General Manager Neal Huntington and President Frank Coonelly.
On whether he pitches differently because of poor infield defense: “No. I’m a ground ball pitcher. I’m going to keep throwing ground balls.”
Maholm isn’t a big strike out guy. He went on to say, “Last year was sad that [Joel] Hanrahan almost got me in the strike out category. We were neck and neck, sweating it out.”
On if he has a different approach this offseason due to roller coaster 2010 season: “As far as training and everything? No. I have a trainer. I go in there and do what he says. It’s been different exercises. But still the same mechanics. The same goals, training wise. Throwing off the mound is mainly fastball command. I haven’t thrown any other pitches yet. Trying to make sure I am good to go.”
On Pitching Coach Ray Searage’s approach compared to others he’s worked with: “I’ve known Ray for about eight years now. He knows my mechanics. We just kind of ‘go pitch’. I tell everybody who’s about to work with him, ‘If you’re ever feeling bad about yourself, go throw a bullpen with Ray.’ He’s the most energetic guy to be around. As pitchers, you need plenty of confidence and he’s going to be there.”
On Manager Clint Hurdle wanting the starters to pitch deeper into games: “I’m not a happy camper if I go 60 or 80 pitches. I expect to go deep into games. To me, 100-120 pitches a normal outing. We got to get deeper into the games so that the back of the bullpen stays fresh.”
On potentially being traded: “I’m here. My number one goal is to win. But I also want to be the team that wins here. I think the fans deserve it. I want to be here but I have no control over it. It’s not bothering me, I’m going to prepare. If Neal [Huntington] and them [President Frank Coonelly and Owner Bob Nutting] want to approach to me about staying, I’m all for it. It’s in their hands. I’m here until otherwise.”
On the recent reports of Pedro Alvarez’s 15 pound weight gain: “Let the guy play … there’s plenty of people in baseball who aren’t the prototypical athlete… He’s a good third baseman. He gets to a lot of balls, he has a great arm … Don’t try to bash him for his weight.”
General Manager Neal Huntington:
On the reports of Pedro Alvarez’s 15 pound weight gain: “It’s not completely accurate. Pedro’s not where we need him to be but it’s not as desperate as maybe that article [PiratesReport.com] seemed it is.”
Huntington did not give an exact number on how over weight he is but did say, “He’s not where we have concerns. He’s not enough where we don’t think we can get him to where he needs to be.”
On how long Alvarez will remain at third base: “That’s a better question for Pedro Alvarez. He has the hands. He has the arm. He has the arm versatility. He even has the feet to be able to play third base. It’s a matter of how he’s going to do physically in order to stay there. The ultimate answer will be shown by his actions.”
On why Wil Ledezma was taken off the 40-man roster: “As we began to look at adding players, taking players off, Wil had good secondary numbers last year. He’s got a good arm. A good fastball. He had some opportunities with us. Had the one bad outing. As we looked at our 40-man roster we made the decision that we were going to keep some other players on that 40-man roster. Part of the decision was the contract we signed him to. We thought it may make it difficult for a team to claim him and risk paying him $300,000 at the Triple-A level. It was a gamble that didn’t work out for us. We had a chance to claim him back and we chose not to do it for the same reasons we put him on waivers the first time.”
Andrew McCutchen was recently ranked the #1 Center Fielder in baseball, Pedro Alvarez and Jose Tabata received honorable mentions. Huntington on young bucs starting to make their mark in baseball: “It’s exciting for us to look at our group of players that are 25 and under. You take it from the major leagues on down. We feel very comfortable that that group matches up with some of the best in baseball. We’re excited about where we are both at the high end and also the depth of the group we have coming in the system. We had some guys graduate to the big leagues this year. We didn’t have a lot of guys with break out years. Unfortunately most of our guys in the mist of break out years got hurt. Starling Marte or Tony Sanchez or Brock Holt. We sustained some bizarre injuries. It wasn’t chronic injuries that we have long term concerns about. It was collisions, it was hit by pitches, it was a broken hamate. All things we recovered from. We’re looking forward to some guys having some break out years. That group of 25 and under, we’re really excited about. Which added us to the moves of the veteran presence this year. With [Lyle] Overbay. With [Matt] Diaz. With [Kevin] Correia. Now with [Jose] Veras and [Joe] Beimel to go along with Scott Olsen. To help keep this group moving forward. Help get some guys that can help them learn how to win on the field. And also how to grow and mature. To help reach their potential quicker. It’s one thing for a coach, or manager to help a young player. It’s another thing for another player to help a young player. That’s where the most impact is made. That’s where the Overbay and the Diaz moves in our minds are significant upgrades for us from what we had prior to that.”
On whether the Pirates farm system could handle a Matt Garza or Zach Greinke kind of trade: “We feel like the farm system is deep enough to put us in a position to make trades, when the major league team is ready to make those. In Milwaukee, in Chicago’s case, one could argue they are a little further along in the curve then we are. We need to see some young guys take some steps forward. We need some of our veteran players to take some steps back to where they were in the past. We need our additions to come in and do well. A big part of why you develop a deep farm system is to have replacement at the major league level. It’s to make trades, it’s to fill that hole that you have at the major league level. To add to your depth. The signings that we’ve done haven’t impacted what we are doing anywhere else. We’re still going to invest heavily into the draft, this year, the next five years. We need to. We’re still going to invest heavily in Latin America, in the International Market. We have to. We need to. Part of the reason is to have a deep system so that we can make trades.”`
Huntington did go on to say that the pirates “engaged Tampa Bay” on both Matt Garza and James Shields, but ultimately the Rays “thought that they had better opportunities elsewhere”. The Pirates were never in on Grienke because the equivalent package would have been Tabata, Walker, Moreno, and another player –to hard of a hit.
On injured minor leaguers with possible set backs in 2011: “Donnie Veal coming off the hand surgery is probably the most prominent. There is a handful of other guys. Most of the guys we’ve talked about; Marte, Sanchez, Holt, that sustained the injuries last year, they’re on track. They are going to be ready to go and ready to compete in spring training. Hopefully we will have a lot fewer dramatic injuries this year.”
On Veal’s time frame: “He wants no part of the June/ July return that is the typical 12, 13, 14 month return. It’s really 12-18 months. Donnie had the surgery early in the season, so he’s progressing as well as we could have possibly hoped. He’s actually probably a head of schedule. We’re excited. He’s fired up. He feels great.”
On locking up the young players (McCutchen, Walker, Tabata Alvarez): “It’s part of the plan. It’s easier said than done. It takes both sides.”
President Frank Coonelly
On being Pirates minors being ranked #19 (Baseball America) and #21 (Keith Law ESPN): “Not happy with that number. But pleased, not satisfied with the progress. They are subjective rankings. If we were 1 I would agree with it, if we are 19, I’m not so happy with it. We graduated a large number of prospects. If you look at the number of players, whether major league or minor league, 25 or under on our club, I think we match up very well with the No. 1 organization –Kansas City. The issue is all their top players 25 and under are still in the minor leagues. That’s why they are No. 1. In their eyes and Several of ours are at the major league level doing great things; Jose Tabata and Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez. When you graduate a large number of players like that obviously now all of a sudden your elite prospects are at the next level. The other thing I encourage you to look at is, because maybe we don’t do a good enough job, making the calls to Baseball America or to Keith Law and really talking up our own players. Look at the statistics of Rudy Owens and Kyle Drabek. Last year, the year before, somehow Kyle Drabek was named ‘Eastern League Pitcher of the Year’ beating out Rudy Owens. Across the board Owens numbers are much better. 93, 94 mph. Unbelievable command from the left side. Drabek I believe was #16 on Jonathan Mayo’s [list], I’m sure he’s up on these guys’. Rudy Owens isn’t even in the top 100. Something’s not right there. Several of our top prospects had some injuries last year that kept them back. We need to be much better than 19. And I think we are better than 19. Maybe we need to do a little bit better job selling ourselves.”
On Clint Hurdle’s impact on getting players to sign in Pittsburgh: “Extraordinary effective. Joe Beimel is just the latest in the number of agents who got on the phone with Clint Hurdle. Neal and I must not have a personality. Everybody comes out and says, ‘the reason I’m coming to Pittsburgh is because of Clint Hurdle’. He embraces the opportunity. He’s very good at it. The reason he is good at it is because he’s genuine.”
Coonelly said that he sat in on a recruiting phone call with a player they did not end up getting but, “I was ready to sign to sign up for it.” “We didn’t get the player, somebody offered more money, but they should have come to Pittsburgh for the reasons that Clint gave them. It was an effective presentation. Clint has a lot of experience that he can draw from.”
On if there is an end point on the draft once the major league level is stacked: “There is no end point. We always have to be extraordinarily aggressive in this area. If there’s a slotting system, we have to find another area to be aggressive in securing talent. I don’t like being #19 in the Baseball America rankings. I want to make it impossible for them to not put us in the Top 5. Really, for a club like ours, we look to graduate two or three top prospects into the major leagues every year.”
Coonelly said, “the strength of our minor league system right now is starting pitching. It’s all those kids who took Altoona to the Double-A Championship last year. I refuse to believe that Rudy Owens is not one of the Top 100 prospects in baseball. I refuse to believe that Bryan Morris shouldn’t be in consideration as one of the top prospects in baseball. Jeff Locke, Justin Wilson. These are real prospects that are looking to have an impact sooner, rather than later.”
On the reports that 16-year-old Luis Heredia’s will debut in the Gulf Coast League in 2011: “That decision hasn’t been made. That would be pushing it but so far everything that Luis Heredia has done for us has shown that he’s ready to be pushed. It would not be surprising or shocking to me that he started in Bradenton.”
On new media types: “I think the level of analysis, and I’m not just saying this because you’re here and I’m sitting in front of you and you have the power of the pen, but the level of the analysis that you get from blogs, and particularly blogs that focus on one team or one aspect is at a much higher level then the traditional media.”
**Special thanks to Matt Nordby, Paul Maholm, Neal Huntington and Frank Coonelly for the great opportunity. And Jim Trdinich, Tom of Rumbunter and to any others who helped make this event happen.
Pirates Caravan kicked off on Monday (be sure to check out the schedule here, to see when the Pirates will be stopping near you).
There are three groups this year.
Group one: Andrew McCutchen, Evan Meek, Ross Ohlendorf, third base coach Nick Leyva and broadcasters Bob Walk and John Wehner.
Group two: pitching coach Ray Searage, James McDonald, Jeff Karstens, Neil Walker and broadcaster Tim Neverett.
Group three: bench coach Jeff Banister, Garrett Jones, Joel Hanrahan, Jose Tabata and broadcaster Greg Brown.
Here are several pictures from day one of the Caravan:
James McDonald and Jeff Karstens chat with a fan who has been collecting autographs since 1944 (Via @BucsInsider).
Joel Hanrahan and Garrett Jones sign autographs from fans (Via @BucsInsider).
Neil Walker talking baseball in Morgantown, West Virgina (Via @BusInsider).
Evan Meek signs autographs on day one of the winter caravan (Via @RobBiertempfel).
A snowy ballpark (via @BucsInsider). Only 70 days away from opening day 2011!
- Pedro Alvarez did not make it in MLB Network’s ‘Top 10 Third Baseman right now’, but he did get an honorable mention –one of four players (Sandoval, Kouzmanoff and Ramirez) “to just miss top 10″
That’s great news for Pirates fans. Alvarez and Jose Tabata (left field) just missed the top 10 and Andrew McCutchen was named #1 Center Fielder right now by MLB Network (The future is looking bright in Pittsburgh).
- The Pirates organization have several pitchers to compete for the fifth spot in the rotation during spring training. They have not hinted at who is the favored:
“We don’t want to make Spring Training evaluations, but in some cases we’re going to have to,” general manager Neal Huntington said. “I think the reality is that we’re going to need more than five starting pitchers next year, so whoever doesn’t make the rotation out of Spring Training, we’re going to need the sixth, the seventh, the eighth one.”
- Brad Lincoln hired a personal trainer for the offseason and plans on reporting to spring training early to work with pitching coach Ray Searage.
“I am going to get my body in the best shape possible to come into spring strong so that I can go all year without breaking down,” Lincoln said. “I want to come in top physical form.”
“If you want to compete up here, you have to continue to work hard every day and just don’t let up and don’t take anything for granted,” Lincoln said. “Hopefully, I can continue to improve and mark a spot here for next year.”
The Pirates have announced what players will be at Piratefest this year. The indoor baseball carnival features live events, autograph sessions, prizes, games and much, much more. The event runs Friday, January 28th(for season ticket holders only), Saturday, January 29th (10-8) and Sunday, January 30th (Noon-5). You can purchase tickets here.
Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker, Evan Meek, Garrett Jones, Jose Tabata, Paul Maholm, Jeff Karstens, Ross Ohlendorf, Brad Lincoln, Kevin Correia and James McDonald, along with new manager Clint Hurdle, pitching coach Ray Searage and bench coach Jeff Banister are scheduled to attend.
Yours truly will also be at Piratefest all day on Saturday and Sunday, so be sure to say hello.
The Pirates have released the 2011 Winter Caravan Schedule. The Bucs will make stops in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia during the week of January 24th through the 31st.
Players, coaches, broadcasters and the Pirates Parrott will be in attendance.
“The Caravan gives our players and staff an opportunity to travel throughout the tri-state area and thank all of our fans for their continued support as we prepare for next season,” said Pirates President Frank Coonelly. “In addition to visiting many cities in the outlying areas, this year we added a number of public events close to the city of Pittsburgh that will allow fans to come see our players and staff.”
There will be three different groups. Those in attendance will be: Andrew McCutchen, Evan Meek, Broadcasters Bob Walk and John Wehner, Pitching coach Ray Searage, James McDonald, Garrett Jones, broadcaster Tim Neverett, base coach Jeff Banister, Neil Walker, Joel Hanrahan, Jose Tabata and broadcaster Greg Brown.
Zach Duke was interviewed on MLB Network Radio on Thursday night and here are some of the highlights:
On the current contract negotiations with the Arizona Diamondbacks: “I think there is something in the works. I don’t think anything is actually official. But we have agreed. Looks like a one year with a possible option.”
On how a change of scenery could be good for him: “I’m certainly hoping so. All I’ve known is Pittsburgh. The Pirates have struggled for so long and we weren’t able to turn it around when I was there.”
On how all the losing can effect the players: “It can be a little tough. But that’s part of the job of being a professional.”
Duke said that his struggles from the 2010 season was mainly because of his health and the problems he had with his elbow. “Inconsistent mechanics and ended up fighting myself throughout the season.” He also said he feels completely healthy now.
On the possibility of being a reliever: “Obviously I’d love to continue starting. I’ve been starting my whole career. I know I am capable of becoming a successful starter in the major leagues.”
On conditioning during the offseason: “I haven’t started throwing yet. I’ll be starting in a few weeks. You can’t take off very long anymore. There are all these young guys trying to take my job now.”
On the high expectations (after his rookie year in 2005): “I guess that season is going to follow me anywhere. I’m pretty positive I wont be able to duplicate that. There was an expectation placed on me. I’ve learned how to deal with expectations and learn about myself. I’m glad I went through it. I wish things would have went different at times.”
After Duke was traded to the backs he texted Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage and said, “Hey. I owe the pirates a complete game shutout so be prepared.”
He went on to discuss how being traded and jobless was “stressful” especially considering his wife is due in February with their first child, Freddy Sanchez wining the World Series and how he hopes to do good things in Arizona. Check out the interview if you have XM or Sirius Radio.
The Pirates have finally announced their coaching staff for the 2011 season.
Jeff Banister will return for his 26th season in the Bucs Organization as third base coach. Banister took over as bench coach for the Pirates in 2010 when Gary Varsho was fired. He has also served as a coach and manager in the minors as well as a field instructor at both levels.
Ray Searage will return as Pitching coach. Searage took over as pitching coach after Joe Kerrigan was fired in August. He has spent the past seven years as pitching coach in various minor league levels. Searage has been in professional baseball for 33 years.
Heberto Andrade will return as bullpen coach for his eighth season with the club.
The new additions to the coaching staff are: Nick Leyva (third-base coach), Gregg Ritchie (hitting coach), Euclides Rojas (bullpen coach), Luis Silverio (first-base coach) and Mark Strittmatter (coach).
Ritchie joined the Pirates organization before the 2006 season as minor league hitting coordinator. Ritchie previous spent 10 years as the White Sox minor league hitting coach.
Rojas became the Bucs Latin American field coordinator in 2005. He also spent two seasons as the Red Sox bullpen coach,
Levya spent the last three seasons in Toronto as the club’s bench coach and third-base coach. He has a decade of managerial experience in the majors.
Silverio will handle the out fielding and base running for the 2011 season. He has spent the past 35 years in the Royals organization.
Strittmatter will serve as Hurdle’s extra coach as well as work as well as the pitchers hitting coach. Strittmatter will also assist with the catching staff and help with the hitting staff.
Tony Beasley, Luis Dorante, Carlos Garcia and Don Long were asked to not return to the Pirates staff.
According to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette, The Pirates are set to make the following four moves to Clint Hurdle’s coaching staff: Ray Searage as pitching coach, Gregg Ritchie as hitting coach, Jeff Banister as third base coach and Nick Leyva as bench coach.
Searage took over as the Bucs pitching coach when Joe Kerrigan was fired. Since then, players have made improvements and spoken out on how they enjoy his “old school technique” where he focuses on things one pitch at a time. (Brad Lincoln and Charlie Morton made huge strides while working with Searage)
Ritchie has spent the past three years as the Pirates minor league hitting coordinator. He has worked with the teams young players and according to sources was important to management. This will be Ritchies first job in the major leagues.
Banister has spent the past 25 years in the Pirates system and took over as bench coach after Gary Varsho was fired. Banister was also the other finalist for the Manager position.
Leyva served under Cito Gaston in Toronto since 2008. He is a former minor league player and has spent over a decade as a major league baseball coach.
The Pirates still need to fill positions for first base coach and bullpen coach, as well as the titles for infield and outfield instructors.
Brad Lincoln ended the 2010 season with arguably one of his best innings pitched in his major league career. In the seventh inning on September 30th against the Marlins he pitched a perfect inning, striking out the side and needed just 15 pitches to do so.
“I went out there with the mindset that I’m just going to throw as hard as I can and see what they can do with it. Coming out of the bullpen is a different style for me. I haven’t really done it in my career and I was a little amped up. My first outing out of the bullpen and I was a little bit over amped for that. I kind of got out of control. I just controlled it this time but used it to my advantage as well and was able to have success.”
Lincoln was dominant.
“It was just one of those nights. I felt good in the bullpen before I got out on the mound. It was just one of those things where everything was clicking and I was able to locate my pitches and put them all away with my breaking ball.”
Did things just click for Lincoln to the point where he thought, ‘now I can trust my stuff, and now I can relax?
“Absolutely. It was one of those things where when I got done with that inning it was kind of refreshment for me and it did make me realize that this is the way it needs to be, this is the way I should go about my business.”
Lincoln started the 2010 season in Triple-A Indy and on June 15th he made his anticipated major league debut. But things didn’t work out so well for Brad. After eight starts with the Bucs’ he was demoted to the Indians to get back to where he was before he was called up. But despite the rough time he had in the majors, he was thankful it happened.
“To clear my head, to learn from the experience. It was a big help for me. To get with Dean [Treanor] and to get my mind back to where it needed to be successful. I think it was a big help. Being able to work with Ray and our side sessions and getting some stuff done. Next year is going to be a big year for me. I’m looking forward to it.”
What does Lincoln plan on working on in the offseason and into spring training?
“First and foremost I’m going to get my body in top shape. Coming into spring I’m going to be battling for a job in that starting rotation. I’m going to get my body in top physical form and then come into spring early and get things going with Ray [Searage], or whoever it may be that’s here. Get that train rolling and be as prepared possible for this upcoming year.”
The Pirates’ have discussed getting some pitching help from the free agent market in the offseason. Lincoln will be battling with Paul Maholm, James McDonald, Ross Ohlendorf, Charlie Morton, Daniel McCutchen, Jeff Karstens, Brian Burres, and perhaps others for a spot in that five-man rotation. He remains confident and believes he can be one of those guys.
“If I put my mind to it, I believe I can do anything.”
Ray Searage took over as interim pitching coach after the Pirates dismissed Joe Kerrigan in early August. A lot of managerial changes are bound to happen this off season but Searage may be around for 2011.
“Certainly, the pitchers have thrown the ball better as of late,” general manager Neal Huntington said. “Ray deserves some credit for that, and we certainly recognize that. There’s a reason why he was added to the Major League staff this year. We believe he can make a positive impact on the pitchers that are under his care and his tutelage, and that’s something that will definitely be taken into consideration as we move forward to make those decisions that we talked about this offseason.”
Searage began the 2010 season as an extra pitching coach working mainly with the relievers in the bullpen.
Many players have spoke out on how they enjoy working with Searage and like his style of pitching. Since he took over for Kerrigan, the staff’s ERA has dropped from 5.07 to 4.85.
“Pitchers responded, have been more efficient,” manager John Russell said. “They’ve given us a much better opportunity to win. Ray has done a really good job. He’s very energetic. He lets them be themselves, but he can also be demanding at the same time. He has a good rapport with them.”
Paul Maholm –who has worked with Searage since he started in Single-A– said this about the interim pitching coach:
“If you’re not feeling good about yourself, then go throw a bullpen with Ray,” Maholm said. “He’s passionate, he’s positive, he brings out the best in you. He believes in you.”
“It’s more about going out there and getting outs instead of worrying about some of the other stuff,” Maholm said.
Searage allows the starters much more freedom than Kerrigan did, who had a numbers based approach to the game.
“It’s more of a two-way street,” Searage said. “I’ll talk, they’ll talk and we’ll come to a happy medium. They know what they need to do in order to keep themselves sharp. It makes it easier for me, and they’re in a more relaxed atmosphere.”