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Pirates Newsbeat

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Cut4:  The Pirates called up Dovydas Neverauskas, the first born-and-raised Lithuanian in MLB history

At 6’3”, he was probably deemed too small to play basketball in the NBA-crazy country.

Just before the start of Monday night’s game against the Cubs, the Pirates announced that they were calling up rookie pitcher Dovydas Neverauskas to take the roster spot of Adam Frazier, who went to the DL. Neverauskas made history while throwing two innings of one-run ball, becoming the first person born and raised in Lithuania to make the Major Leagues.

Neverauskas hails from Vilnius, Lithuania, where his father, Virmidas, encouraged him to learn and play the game despite its relative anonymity. He attended European Academy baseball camps in Italy and was signed by the Pirates in July 2009—another first for a Lithuanian-born player.

After his debut on Monday, Neverauskas talked to MLB.com’s Adam Berry about what it meant for his home country. “Better opportunities. Just to see that baseball can be played in Lithuania, somebody can follow in my footsteps,” he said.

Renegade (((JE))) Posted: April 25, 2017 at 08:27 AM | 20 comment(s)
  Beats: pirates

Thursday, April 20, 2017

David Freese, World Series hero, finds greater triumph in depression battle

He may forever be a hero in these parts, but during a time he should have been basking in glory, he instead was a tormented man who battled just to get out of bed.

He would wake up mornings, slam his eye lids shut, wishing he were dead.

“I was depressed. I was always depressed,’’ Freese tells USA TODAY Sports. “I never tried to do anything to myself, but I didn’t care about my life. I didn’t care what would happen to me. It was almost to a point that if this is my time, so be it?

“And there was definitely a lack of care about my well-being at certain times, for sure.’’

Freese says he has battled depression his entire life, a factor in his decision to relinquish a college scholarship after high school to Missouri. He instead just wanted to be like any other student, giving him plenty of time for partying and alcohol. There were three public drunken-driving incidents, including a December 2009 arrest in which his blood alcohol content was measured at .23, nearly three times the legal limit.

Those episodes barely scratch the surface. There was the Thanksgiving Day afternoon in 2012 when he crashed his Range Rover into a tree. The countless mornings he awoke and had no recollection of even getting into bed. The blackouts. The constant feeling of lethargy and fatigue.

“I’ve had moments like that since high school, to be honest,’’ Freese says. “It’s been 15-plus years of, ‘I can’t believe I’m still here.’ ’’

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 20, 2017 at 05:41 PM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals, david freese, depression, mental health, pirates

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Pirates OF Starling Marte gets 80-game ban after positive PED test

Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Starling Marte has been suspended 80 games by Major League Baseball after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance, it was announced Tuesday.

“The Pittsburgh Pirates fully support MLB’s Joint Drug Agreement, including the very tough penalties for violations of its prohibitions,” Pirates president Frank Coonelly said in a statement. “We are disappointed that Starling put himself, his teammates and the organization in this position. We will continue to fight for the division title with the men who are here and will look forward to getting Starling back after the All-Star break.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 18, 2017 at 03:01 PM | 97 comment(s)
  Beats: ped, pirates, sterling marte

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Ron Cook: Hurdle deserves extension despite the odds | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

How about reading it from the greatest manager in Pirates history?

“Clint Hurdle has gotten a lot of credit for becoming a Pittsburgher, and rightfully so,” Jim Leyland said earlier this month. “He’s gotten a lot of credit for being a motivator, and rightfully so. But Clint Hurdle has not gotten enough credit in Pittsburgh, in my opinion, for being the game manager that he is. He is a terrific game manager. I don’t think that has been recognized because the other stuff has kind of overshadowed it, being active in the community, being a great guy. But Clint Hurdle is one hell of a manager one through nine.”

Huntington said he was shocked by the Bovada odds. He hired Hurdle and, presumably, would be the one to fire him — should it come to that — although Nutting, as owner, certainly has the power to fire Hurdle and/or Huntington.

“Somebody’s got bad information. I’m not a betting man, but I don’t know that there’s a worse bet out there to take,” Huntington said.

“I do not envision working with a different manager in my time here. Clint Hurdle is one of my best friends in the world. I still consider him a mentor. He has done everything that we could have ever asked of him. It’s up to us to give him enough talent. He gets the most out of it. He’s a leader. He runs a good game. Our players love playing for him. The dreaded vote of confidence isn’t even on my radar. He’s our manager and I would fully envision he’ll be our manager for a long time.

“In fact, it wouldn’t shock me if Clint outlasts me here.”

Jim Furtado Posted: April 11, 2017 at 09:15 AM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: clint hurdle, pirates

Monday, April 03, 2017

MLB preview: Q&A with Pirates general manager Neal Huntington

Huntington: A lot of it was conceptualized before we came in the door. After talking with Bob (Nutting) and Frank (Coonelly), we bought into the concept of let’s see what the 2008 could do. They’d done a nice job (in 2007) and appeared to be ready to take the next step forward. There were some established position players, although most of them were approaching free agency. There wasn’t much in the farm system other than (Andrew) McCutchen, (Neil) Walker and Brad Lincoln. We knew we were going to have to invest heavily in the draft and in the international market. We knew there needed to be some changeover in personnel and some changes in systems and structures.

Unfortunately, 2008 did not go well. We were below .500 at the trade deadline, so we made the decision to move those veteran players who were nearing free agency and go full force into talent-accumulation mode.

So much of that first year was about discovering what was good and who was good, and who could be part of the future on and off the field. The next phase was talent accumulation, then talent development, then major league team maturation, then “Let’s push this thing forward and figure out a way to win a World Series.” So a lot (of the plan) was in place early. We’ve evaluated and evolved over time, for sure. But conceptually, a lot of it was in place as we walked in the door. Maybe that’s part of the reason why Bob and Frank offered me the position.

Jim Furtado Posted: April 03, 2017 at 08:33 AM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: general managers, neal huntington, pirates

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Gammons: Daniel Bard Is Willing To Endure The Frustration

The Cardinals last spring signed Bard to a two year deal which his agent Mike Milchin thought would give the organization time to see if they could ground him. His initial numbers with Palm Beach in the Florida State League (3 3 8 9 13 1) were not successful, but Director of Player Development Gary LaRocque and his minor league pitching staff decided to have him try a lower arm slot.

“In some ways, it’s a lot like what Andrew did—simply everything,” says Bard. In 2012, when struggling with his delivery, Miller, with the help of pitching coach Bob McClure, tried a delivery that was part slidestep, part of fire-the-ball-at-the-backyard wall step and fire.” Which, as we saw in October, helped him develop into one of the best relievers in the game.

Bard now just loads and fires from his low ¾ slot. On this video, shot by Woodard, one can see him registering 96 on the radar gun.

I’d love to see him return to his top form. Maybe not with the Cardinals…

villageidiom Posted: March 26, 2017 at 05:01 PM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals, comebacks, control issues, cubs, daniel bard, pirates, rangers, red sox

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Tough times paid off for Bucs’ Jameson Taillon | MLB.com

“But I had an opportunity to go back to the drawing board and say, ‘Well, I’m going to be here, I might as well make my time worthwhile. What can I do to make my mechanics better? What can I do to make my grips better? What can I do to make my arm stronger, to get stronger? What can I do to eat healthier? How do I transition all this to in-season?’

“I had so much time away with no pressure, no hype on me. I wasn’t pitching for a boxscore. I was just committed to the process.I got to hone up and clean up and go forward with it. I asked friends, family, teammates. I was confiding with guys who’d had Tommy John surgery, confiding with guys who’d lost some weight. How guys cooked. What worked for them.”

Jim Furtado Posted: March 22, 2017 at 12:00 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: jameson taillon, pirates

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Pirates top prospect Austin Meadows getting major-league ‘vibe’ | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

It’s always tough making judgments on the outside but Andrew McCutchen seems like a really good guy.

“McCutchen told him, ‘Trust the process,’ “ Meadows’ father, Kenny, recalled. “Austin took that to heart. A lot of kids coming out of high school think they’re going to go right to the big leagues.”

Meadows, 21, isn’t there yet, but he’s no longer so far off. A non-roster invitee at major league camp this spring, he’s taken advantage of the extra at-bats available in the absence of McCutchen, Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco, who are away at the World Baseball Classic.

Jim Furtado Posted: March 19, 2017 at 11:44 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: andrew mccutchen, pirates

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Pirates’ Jung Ho Kang placed on restricted list as he awaits visa

The probability third baseman Jung Ho Kang will play for the Pirates on opening day continues to plummet. On Friday, a week after receiving a suspended sentence for his third DUI in South Korea, Kang was officially placed on the major league restricted list.

Pirates president Frank Coonelly described the move as “a procedural matter.” Kang has yet to receive his visa for travel to the United States, and there is no known deadline for that decision.

“It is neither a statement of pessimism nor optimism that Jung Ho will get back in time to report to Bradenton and prepare to be ready for opening day,” Coonelly said Saturday. “It says nothing on that topic. It just is a reflection of the reality that he is not here today, on March 11.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 12, 2017 at 12:26 PM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: dui, jung-ho kang, pirates, visa

Friday, March 10, 2017

Andrew McCutchen’s vow after Pirates dangle him: ‘I’m going to have monster year’

“I’m not going to hold any grudges against them,” says McCutchen, a five-time All-Star. “I mean, I have people who say it should be my choice because of the sacrifices I’ve made and the things I’ve done for the organization. But l ’m not going to be angry.

“I’m just going to go out and play my game because that’s my job. I work for them. They are my bosses.

“They ask me to do something, it means I have to do it.”

Jim Furtado Posted: March 10, 2017 at 09:46 AM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: andrew mccutchen, pirates, wbc

Monday, March 06, 2017

Austin Meadows to see more spring playing time, sets health as spring goal | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

His desire to stay healthy stems from his injury history in pro ball. He did not play until June 30 in 2014 because of a hamstring injury in spring training that did not heal, costing him half his first full season. He hurt the other hamstring last year, then hurt his oblique on a swing during the final game of the season.

“I came down here for about a month to rehab after the season, just to get it healthy and then go home and really get everything right, work on my body, doing yoga and stuff like that to try to increase flexibility,” Meadows said.

Jim Furtado Posted: March 06, 2017 at 06:35 AM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: austin meadows, pirates

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Jung Ho Kang appears in Korean court over DUI charges, vows to become ‘exemplary player’ | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Player or person? Was this a problem of translation or perspective?

“I deeply regret what I have done,” Kang told Yonhap News. “If I can get one last chance, I will become an exemplary player to earn respect from everyone.”

Jim Furtado Posted: February 22, 2017 at 08:25 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: jung ho kang, pirates

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

In a world without stats, who would be the best baseball player?

This started with a crush on Starling Marte.

Marte is an outfielder with the Pittsburgh Pirates and my favorite baseball player to watch. He’s fast enough to have stolen 47 bases last year, third-most in the majors. His arm is one of the best in the game, capable of firing 101 mph bullets from the outfield. He is strong enough to have hit a baseball 460 feet, something only 48 other hitters have accomplished outside of Coors Field over the past two years. (Bryce Harper hasn’t. Mike Trout hasn’t.) He might be the most creative base slider in the game. He has demonstrated a talent for getting hit by pitches. Over the past three years, he has been the best defensive left fielder in the game, and this year, he will finally get to be a very good defensive center fielder.

I also know (or think I know) exactly how good Marte is: He was the 28th-best position player last year (by WAR) and the 53rd-best hitter (by OPS+). You might think those advanced stats are junk, but whatever stats you prefer, you have some idea how good he is: The 13th-best hitter (by batting average) or the 91st-best (by runs scored). We’ve all got stats. We all use our stats.

What if we had none? Not just no WAR but no nothin’. What if some ministry of information outlawed the collection of baseball statistics and we were all left to judge players exclusively by what we saw, what we perceived and what we remembered? Who would be perceived as the best player in baseball? Who would be the first player chosen in a franchise draft? Or, the more important question: With how much eye-rolling would actual major league general managers respond to a weird thought experiment on the subject?

Bourbon Samurai is disturbed by bagel developments Posted: February 21, 2017 at 10:23 AM | 64 comment(s)
  Beats: pirates, sabermetrics

Pirates’ Cervelli on mend, team ‘refocused’ | MLB.com

“I think it’s going to be good for us. You need to have the step back before you take the step forward. I love that phrase,” Nutting said. “We certainly had a step back. We underperformed last year to the abilities of our club. I believe that’s been good for the organization. I believe it’s been good individually for some of the players, and it’s refocused us and improved our commitment. … We need to focus on how we move forward, how we push, how we deliver a level of excellence beyond what we’ve done in the past.”

Jim Furtado Posted: February 21, 2017 at 09:13 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: pirates

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Polanco prepares for a full season, new position | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Will this be his breakout year?

Jim Furtado Posted: February 19, 2017 at 01:08 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: gregory polanco, pirates

Friday, February 17, 2017

Dear Pittsburgh

In this case, I hope the best decision the Pirates made this off-season was the trade they didn’t make.  There are not enough heart emoji’s in the world to adequately express my affection for this player. 

Russ Posted: February 17, 2017 at 01:04 PM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: pirates

Starling Marte says he is fine with offseason switch to center field | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Pirates outfield needs to stay healthy this year.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 17, 2017 at 09:10 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: pirates, starling marte

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Kang to miss start of camp because of trial in South Korea | TribLIVE

The first full-squad workout will be Friday. Kang remains in South Korea, where his trial on drunken-driving charges is set for Feb. 22.

“It is not known how long the trial will last or when any sentencing phase that might be necessary would be scheduled,” team president Frank Coonelly said in a prepared statement. “We will continue to do whatever we can to assist (Kang) and his representatives in their efforts to resolve all necessary matters, so Jung Ho will be able to travel to the United States to prepare for and to play in the 2017 season, but his reporting date remains undetermined.”

With Kang out indefinitely, veteran David Freese could be in line for extra playing time at third base after the Grapefruit league season begins March 25.

“I’m not really focused on Jung Ho. I hope everything works out however it should,” Freese said. “I’m just going to come in here and do my thing. If my name is on the lineup card, I’ll get after it.”

Jim Furtado Posted: February 15, 2017 at 09:36 AM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: jung ho kang, pirates

Monday, February 06, 2017

Andrew McCutchen to play right field in 2017 | MLB.com

More info on the Pirates outfield realignment.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 06, 2017 at 08:43 AM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: andrew mccutchen, gregory polanco, pirates, starling marte

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Josh Bell undergoes surgery on left knee, faces 2-4 week recovery | MiLB.com News | The Official Site of Minor League Baseball

Josh Bell was coming into Spring Training ready to challenge for the Pirates’ starting first base job. He may have to wait.

The Pirates’ third-ranked prospect underwent surgery on Wednesday to remove a loose body from his left knee, and will be sidelined two to four weeks. That leaves uncertain his status for Opening Day.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 02, 2017 at 02:09 PM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: injuries, josh bell, pirates

Sunday, January 22, 2017

What if this Drew Hutchison Thing Actually Worked Out?

Believing in the power of Ray Searage.

Now he’s getting a fresh start and moving to an easier league and ballpark to pitch in, plus has the Ray Searage effect that could do wonders for him. His career 38.6 GB% would be the lowest of any pitcher on the Pirates staff. If Searage can get Hutch to work more inside and keep the ball down more, why couldn’t we see a turnaround for Hutchison?

Jim Furtado Posted: January 22, 2017 at 08:56 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: drew hutchison, pirates

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Pirates’ Bell credits yoga for improved flexibility, weight loss | TribLIVE

“I took my first ground ball and I was like, ‘Oh, gosh! I’m way too stiff.’ ” Bell said. “All season long, (Young) was busting on me: ‘I told you to go to yoga. What, you say your hips are tight? I told you to go to yoga.’ So, the first day of (this past) offseason, I started going to yoga.”

Jim Furtado Posted: January 17, 2017 at 08:58 AM | 18 comment(s)
  Beats: josh bell, pirates

Friday, January 06, 2017

The Pirates and Their Continuing Search for Velocity | FanGraphs Baseball

I’m generally not interested on what a pitcher “touches” in velocity. It’s where he sits that’s generally what matters. There are a lot of pitchers referenced in this article. Adding Kuhl seems a stretch.

Chad Kuhl is another success story from later in the draft, a ninth-rounder out of Delaware in 2013 who was touching 97 mph at the major-league level last summer.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 06, 2017 at 07:46 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: pirates

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Pirates first baseman Josh Bell heeds advice from veterans on the offseason | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Jaso, who also will work at third base and in the outfield, picked up the first-base position quickly this year and had only five errors in 748 innings there this season. He could be an option to enter late in games to spell Bell, a role Sean Rodriguez has filled the past two seasons.

“Josh Bell is going to grow into being a really good defensive and offensive player and he won’t need that,” Jaso said. “But if that’s a role I can have and that the team would want me to that, that would be great. I’ll work as hard as I can. Whatever they toss my way, I’ll take it.”

Jim Furtado Posted: December 27, 2016 at 09:31 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: josh bell, pirates

Can any other team follow the Pirates’ blueprint? - Beyond the Box Score

So, the Pirates won’t be able to follow their own blueprint.

Those three defining characteristics sum up the Pirates — if not in their entirety, in large part. Success with developing prospects, bringing in free agents, and tweaking pitchers is a big reason why the Pirates are reloading, not rebuilding, and ready to carry their success over into another generation of prospects. Unfortunately, those defining characteristics seem fairly unique to the Pirates; they’re products of luck, circumstance, or the kind of skill that can’t be replicated. In another five years, Pittsburgh themselves might join the rest of the league in looking back on their trajectory over this period and wondering how they can replicate it.

Jim Furtado Posted: December 27, 2016 at 08:41 AM | 15 comment(s)
  Beats: pirates

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