As frustrating as this Curve season has been in so many ways, the saga of prized shortstop Alen Hanson might be the most disappointing.
Hanson was benched for the past two games, a result of failing to hustle to first on an infield popup in the fourth inning Friday night, which resulted in him getting pulled from that game immediately.
Hanson is one of the Curve's most talented players, but he's now been benched for more than 10 percent of the team's games this season for lack of hustle or other things the Pirates have called developmental issues. The benchings include sitting out six consecutive games last month.
Manager Carlos Garcia said after Sunday's 3-0 loss to Bowie that he had a "good conversation" with Hanson about what's expected of him and added the shortstop will be back in the lineup today.
"We've just got to keep refreshing what we're here for, what they play this game for, what we expect, how he's going to be held accountable," Garcia said.
"Enough is enough. It's time to grow up ... as a ballplayer and a person, and a responsible person will understand what he's here for."
Tonight: Altoona at New Britain, 7:05 p.m.
Pitchers: Curve LHP Zack Dodson (2-6, 5.65) vs. Rock Cats RHP Tyler Duffy (5-2, 4.17)
Hanson is having a fine season offensively, hitting .285 with 10 homers and 50 RBIs. There's little doubt he's proven he can handle Double-A pitching.
"He can do great things if he is in the strike zone," Garcia said.
Defensively, though, Hanson has endured big-time problems as he's committed 27 errors in only 90 games.
As bad as things have been for him defensively, his reputation has taken perhaps an even bigger hit because of how many times he's been benched.
Hanson isn't close to being ready defensively to play shortstop in the major leagues, but at some point a move to second base could be in the cards. The Pirates have Neil Walker at second, so Hanson conceivably could be used as trade bait to help acquire a need at the upcoming trade deadline.
But given his issues in merely being able to stay on the field for the Curve, one has to wonder if other teams might back away from him because they think he has a bad attitude. That could hurt the Pirates because, otherwise, Hanson's bat would make him an enticing piece of a trade.
"The process is for him to learn, to learn how to play the game the right way," Garcia said. "His physical ability is going to take over because he is a gifted human being with the ability to put the bat on the ball with consistency.
"So now he has to learn how the game is played. Where to be when the ball is hit, where to assist when the ball is hit, where he's got to be as the cutoff man. The position he plays, that position demands a lot from the defender. So we want him to recognize those things and also play with energy, run the ball out. There's no reason why not to. It's no time for laziness and no time for indiscipline."
The Curve managed only four hits in getting shut out Sunday before 4,439 fans at Peoples Natural Gas Field. Tim Berry (5-5) tossed seven shutout innings for the win, allowing only three hits, and Oliver Drake pitched the ninth to earn his 23rd save.
Starter Tom Harlan (0-1) took the loss for Altoona, allowing three runs on eight hits in five innings.
Key player: Bowie LHP Tim Berry gave up only three hits in seven shutout innings.
Key play: Back-to-back singles by Chris Marrero and Ronaldo Bermudez to open the sixth helped Bowie score two runs for a 3-0 lead.
Key stat: SS Alen Hanson has been benched for more than 10 percent of the Curve's games this season because of hustle and development issues.
How they scored
Top 4th: Bermudez walked, scored on Ruettiger single (0-1).
Top 6th: Marrero singled, scored on Adams groundout (0-2); Bermudez singled, scored on Ruettiger groundout (0-3).