Spring Training 2012: Friday 3/23 McKechnie Field Recap

If you missed it, check out Part 1: Pirate City.

As I walked into McKechnie I got word that Pedro Alvarez was in the batting cage.

animated gif maker
Animated gif maker

This is five shots of five different swings I’ve put together in a gif. Pedro looked to be swinging well and the ball had a good sound coming off of his bat. The coach pitching to him was having him work on staying back. This was bout two hours before news broke that Alvarez has discomfort in his knee and will be held out for a few games. As you can see he’s not wearing a brace and I saw no sign of a limp. But as someone who has some knee issues of my own, I can say that certain movements trigger the pain more than others. It may be an issue where he can’t run or field as well as he needs to but swinging does no harm.

On to the game. Recap. Box Score. Pictures at the bottom.

Good: Charlie Morton was lights out. 4 IP, 2 H, 2 K. Mostly groundballs. I’ll have more on him below. Matt Hague continued to look strong in his bid to make the big league club both at bat (2 run HR) and in the field (nice pick of a throw in the dirt.) Jose Tabata went 3-4.

Up and Down: Casey McGehee booted one easy grounder but made a nice play later on one which was hit harder. No hits fell in for him but he hit the ball square each time. Rod Barajas went 0-3 but had a good throw to catch Georgia Tech alum Tony Plagman stealing.

Nearly Bad: Chris Leroux got Charlie Brown’d during his one inning. A line drive had him duck so fast his hat came off. Luckily he wasn’t hit or hurt and finished the inning without incident.

Just Bad: Daniel McCutchen was more unlucky than anything else. Most of the hits he gave up were soft ground balls that just eluded the defense. However, the grand slam was a no-doubter to centerfield.

After the game I was able to briefly speak with Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington. I asked him about Morton not being named to the rotation for the opening week in contrast with his stellar outing today, and if it was just a matter of getting him stretched out. I didn’t have a recorder so I’ll paraphrase in an attempt not to misquote Mr. Huntington.

  • The team is in a fortunate position in that the schedule allows them to “find out where he is” and take the time to make sure Charlie is healthy and ready to go without rushing him.
  • In a similar situation last year with James McDonald, James came back too quickly to start the year and ended up not performing well in April.
  • Asked if Charlie could be used the first time the 5th starter is needed on April 14, Huntington responded that it was “an option.”

Barring any new developments, my gut says to look for Charlie on the 14th. Many thanks to Mr. Huntington for his time and words.

Pictures:

Lineups

Morton doing long toss while Barajas stretches.

Clint Hurdle signs an autograph.

Just for Pat at WHYGAVS, a signed Andy Van Slyke ball that was up for auction.

Former Pirates' manager Jim Leyland.

Former Pirate Rafael Belliard took out the lineup card.

Sellout, full house.

Morton throws a warmup pitch.

The Sandbar on Anna Maria Island

Dinner was a nice piece of grouper with a baked potato and a Maker's and Coke. Oh, and this great view.

Tomorrow: Last day. Probably go to Pirate City and see if A.J. Burnett will be throwing his simulated game there.

Morton has hip labrum surgury, Opening Day in doubt.

Tim has the breaking news. Very curious when he injured it or if it was more of a wear and tear thing.

UPDATE 7:02p: Apparently the team discovered the injury before this past season but decided to wait to operate rather than losing all of 2011. Sports Illustrated’s Will Carroll seems optimistic on the procedure.

Will Carroll

@injuryexpert Will Carroll
Charlie Morton’s surgery was the FAIL type that Brett Myers and others have had. Great return rate.
FAIL stands for Femoral-Acetabular Impingement of Labrum. You can read more about it here in the entry under David Aardsma.

Searage Shaves Standings

Over to the right, you’ll notice a new feature here on 6-4-3 Putout: The Searage Shaves Standings. Before the season starter James McDonald made a bet with pitching coach Ray Searage. If five Pirates’ starters win ten games each, Ray has to shave his mustache and eyebrows. There are 44 games left so each starter should get about eight more starts. Kevin Correia has already done his part. Jeff Karstens and Charlie Morton should be able to reach the goal fairly easily too. It will be tougher for McDonald and Paul Maholm but the real key here is that the offense needs to score more.

Its unknown what would happen to the bet if another starter like Ross Ohlendorf or Brad Lincoln gets put in the rotation. Both have made starts for the Bucs this year.

Searage has a mighty fine soup strainer, but here’s hoping it bites the dust. He can always grow a new one.

Image courtesy of Bucs Blog (http://bucsblog.mlblogs.com/tag/ray-searage/)

Monday morning UPDATE: If the offense keeps up their current pace I’ll never have to update this for the rest of the season. Sheesh.

 

End of year update: Injuries and lack of scoring wrapped this one up early. Here are the final standings.

Quick thoughts from the weekend and some links

I hope everyone had a great Fourth of July weekend. I celebrated by placing 42,430th in the Peachtree Road Race.

Andrew McCutchen is an All-Star caliber player whether he was selected for the team or not. Typically (but not always) these type of snubs have been made moot due to injury replacements, so I’ll wait for a few days before I get in a huff about it.

The most disappointing thing from the weekend to me is that the Bucs could have pretty easily swept the Nats and been in 1st place now. Though I will happily accept being three games over .500 and 1.5 games back.

The Pirates are starting to get some real attention now, not just for single players like Charlie Morton but the team as a whole. To that end, I present…

Some Links:

Joe Posnanski with his usual excellent take; this time griping and the McCutchen McSnub.

Christina Kahrl from ESPN.com’s Sweetspot blog on the strides the Pirates have made this year.

Fangraph’s Dave Cameron posits that the Pirates should be buyers at the trade deadline this year. I can’t find a single thing in this article to argue with.

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