Results tagged ‘ winter ball ’
After a rough 2010 season in the majors with the Pirates, Charlie Morton decided to pitch in the winter leagues in the Dominican to work on some of his struggles.
What he didn’t realize he would learn was a different perspective.
“Meeting people down there really helped me appreciate what I have here,” Morton said. “I would leave the park and a kid would come up to me and ask me for water or food. I’m like, ‘Serious?’ It’s tough.”
“I think I have seen enough of the world to have appreciated that and know that I don’t have it that tough,” Morton said. “But going down there where the people don’t really have much and driving by fields where you see 15 kids with one baseball on something that doesn’t even look like a baseball field, it’s like, ‘Wow.’
“There were times when I wish I had stayed longer. But at the same time, it was such a long year.”
Morton will be battling for the fifth spot in the rotation during spring training and is ready to rebound from last season. After a month of resting his arm, Morton has started throwing in December.
“I’m ready to get on the mound against hitters and see where I am,” Morton said. “I’m just going to go out and pitch and do what I can do.”
- Ross Ohlendorf and Joel Hanrahan filed for salary arbitration on Friday. They are the only two Pirates to file, just 119 players in major league baseball.
- Garrett Jones arrived at mini camp on Thursday (he was late due to a family wedding in Mexico) noticeably thinner and “a little bit faster, too.” Jones weighed 255 last season and is said to have dropped 10 pounds. This offseason Jones has been diligently working with a speed enhancement and velocity trainer.
- Pirates beat reporter Jenifer Langosch addressed the possible future of five players as spring training approaches us.
Jose Ascanio missed the entire 2010 season due to an injury but has pitched well during the Venezuelan Winter League. Most likely, his role in 2011 will be as a reliever.
Kevin Hart missed the entire 2010 season as well, he underwent labrum surgery after a disastrous spring training. Hart is currently healthy and threw during Pirates mini camp. His role in 2011 would most likely be as a reliever, until he can prove himself as a starter.
Charlie Morton had a horrible first two months of the season, picking up nine losses and then was optioned to Triple-A Indy. He pitched much better toward the end of the season but the Pirates are still unsure whether he is mentally tough enough. Morton will be competing for the fifth spot in the rotation during spring training.
Chris Resop is one of the leading candidates in the Pirates ‘pen. After being claimed off waivers in August, he allowed four earned runs and struck out 24 in 19 innings.
John Bowker will be competing for a spot as an extra outfielder along with Alex Presley, Steve Pearce, Cory Wimberly and Ryan Doumit (Garrett Jones and Matt Diaz will split the majority of the playing time in right field this season). Bowker was acquired in July by the San Franscio Giants and batted hit .232 in 26 games with the Pirates.
Some news and notes from day three of mini camp:
- Jose Tabata played against Jorge Julio (who recently signed a minor league deal with the Pirates) this offseason during winter ball. “He looked good,” Tabata said. “He’s still a good pitcher.”
- Players have noticed Tabata’s offseason weight gain by refering to him as “a beast.” Altough he claims to weigh 212 (Pirates media guide said he weighed 210 last year) it’s all muscle, not fat.
“Yeah, I’m bigger,” Tabata said, grinning. “I worked out in the gym every day this winter. I want to be bigger and stronger. This year, my idea is to hit more home runs.”
Tabata hopes that the added strength will help him produce more homeruns during the 2011 season.
“It’s a good feeling,” Tabata said. “But I have to be careful not to let it change my swing. Sometimes, when you want to hit home runs, your swing gets real long. I can’t let that happen.”
- Matt Diaz, Lyle Overbay, Joel Hanrahan, Neil Walker and Ross Ohlendorf held a round table discussion with some of the Bucs top minor leaguers. “I have no idea what I’m going to tell them,” Ohlendorf said. “I’ll come up with something.”
Tony Sanchez tweeted later that night saying, “had a good meeting with Hurd and some of the older big leaguers. lots of insight on how life is as a big leaguer.”
- Sanchez also broke the news (via twitter) that he was invited to spring training: “Just got the word that im invited to Big League Camp. Unreal! Get to pretend im one of the guys… “
- MLB Trade Rumors is reporting that the Pirates are one of six teams that have offered Jose Veras a minor league deal with an invite to spring training.
Veras posted a 3.85 ERA in 48 innings for the Marlins in 2010.
The Pirates signed Jorge Julio to a minor league contract on Monday. The deal does NOT include an invite to spring training.
Julio has spent the last nine seasons with eight different ball clubs. The soon to be 32-year-old has 99 career saves and a 4.43 career ERA.
He posted a 1.95 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 27 innings during winter ball in Venezuela this season.
With the new year looming and spring training less than 10 weeks away, the Pirates look to have four starters locked for 2011.
Paul Maholm, Ross Ohlendorf, Kevin Correia and James McDonald seem to be the favored starters for the Bucs, although nothing has been officially announced.
That leaves one spot left, with plenty of arms to compete in spring training.
Charlie Morton hopes to rebound from a horrible 2010 season.
“When you know you can do well and you prepare to do well and you go out and struggle like I did, that makes it pretty hard,” Morton said. “I was really excited coming into this year and it just didn’t get me anywhere. It was tough.”
Morton was acquired by the Atlanta Braves in June of 2009 and had high expectations by the Pirates. He finished 5-9 with a 4.55 ERA.
A horrible first part of the 2010 season, Morton picked up nine losses and had an ERA of 9.35. By May 28th, he was put on the Disabled list for right shoulder fatigue and by July 2nd, he was sent to the minors.
“I think I let the results dictate how I felt on the mound, and that, in turn, led me to be in a place that when I was on the mound and things weren’t going right, it all kind of compounded,” Morton said. “It got harder and harder. And I’m not talking harder outing-to-outing. I’m talking harder pitch-to-pitch. You’re looking in and not believing. I definitely have to rethink and reanalyze what I was trying to do out there. At the end, I’d be looking at video of myself and you could see in my face the doubt.”
A lack of confidence was a major contributor of his disastrous starts and he began to doubt his future as a pitcher.
“I had a lot of questions about myself when I was in Triple-A and not pitching well,” Morton said. “I had a lot of doubts. When I started pitching better, I started feeling better about baseball, but I didn’t feel better about my career. I’m at the stage in my career where it’s, ‘Can you pitch in the big leagues? Or can you not pitch in the big leagues?’”
In the final two months with the Pirates (five starts) he finished with a 3.99 ERA, his record 2-12 with a 7.57 ERA.
Morton has spent the offseason pitching in Winter Ball where he allowed three runs through 15 innings, striking out 14 and walking two.
“We’re moving in the right direction, and winter ball is just going to help build on that,” general manager Neal Huntington said. “He’s made some mechanical adjustments. He’s believing more. He’s being more aggressive. He’s trusting the stuff more. He’s taken some nice steps forward.”
With just one option remaining, Morton has a lot to prove in Spring Training if he wants to be the fifth starter in 2011. The Pirates, however, haven’t given up on him just yet.
“I’ve learned that you can’t think about things long-term,” Morton said. “You can have goals and long-term dreams, but just looking at my next start and going out there and trying to execute pitches is the most important thing.
“Do I want the guys in this clubhouse and coaches’ locker room to count on me? Yeah, I want that responsibility. But when I start moving forward that can’t be the only thing on my mind. It has to be me taking care of what I need to take care of. Whether that leads me to a certain position on the staff or wherever, I can’t really focus on that.”
According to Adam Rubin of ESPN, Lastings Milledge was involved in a fight during winter ball in Venezuela.
Lastings Milledge involved in big team fight in winter ball. Venezuelan friend says: Heated game. After he doubled in 4th, he made like he was throwing grenade to his dugout. Other team didn’t like-hit him in 7th. Then he took 2B. Other team went after him. BOOM-Big Fight
Milledge was non-tendered by the Bucs on December 3rd. He batted .277/.332/.380 during the 2010 season.
The Pirates have cleared Jose Tabata to play in the final month of winter ball for the Caribes de Anzoategui in the Dominican Republic.
Tabata was wanting to play the entire season this winter, but the Bucs were hesitant since he is coming off his rookie season for the Pirates.
The two sides came to a compromise allowing Tabata to plain the remainder of December.
“I think it was a situation where we challenged Jose to make sure he was doing what he needed to do for his career in Pittsburgh,” said director of player development Kyle Stark.
“Those guys get pulled to go play in Winter Ball. We wanted to make sure those guys understand that the first commitment is to their own career in Pittsburgh. I think it was a situation where we had to make sure he was in baseball shape and ready to do it and in position to start the spring and have a good spring.”
Charlie Morton showed improvement down the stretch of the 2010 season and has had three great starts during Winter Ball in the Dominican. But will he have a shot at being a starter for the Pirates next season?
Charlie’s late-season showing gives us confidence he should be in the mix to compete for a spot in our rotation,” Huntington said.
Morton through three starts (15 innings pitched) has allowed 11 hits, three runs (one home run), two walks and 14 strikeouts.