Hurdle might shake things up
PITTSBURGH — Are the Pirates ready to make some changes?
It seemed as though manager Clint Hurdle hinted at that after Sunday’s 3-0 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks stretched their losing streak to five games.
The Pirates open a three-stop trip in New York tonight.
“I’ll kind of rearrange some things probably with the staff, talk about some things, and get ready to play tomorrow,” Hurdle said.
Hurdle didn’t specify what sort of rearrangements he had in mind. The lineup? The roster?
He emphasized that the team needs to take a basic approach to solving its widespread offensive slump.
“The same guys who threw up some big numbers early are not doing it now,” he said. “We’re capable. We have to get the swings in place, we have to get the confidence in place. It can be contagious. One guy can light a spark, and I don’t think everybody needs to try to be the guy.”
Maybe going the road will help. After opening with three games in New York, the Pirates will play series in San Diego and Los Angeles. They won’t be home again until July 6.
That many games on the road might make things better. Hard to imagine they would get worse.
Sean Rodriguez started for the third straight game, this time at shortstop.
He had played second base and left field in the previous games.
Rodriguez was 0-for-3 Sunday, dropping his average to .145 and again drawing boos from the stands.
Hurdle said Rodriguez started in order to give Jordy Mercer a day off. Rodriguez is the only other valid shortstop on the Pirates’ roster.
General manager Neal Huntington added that the Pirates wanted to give Rodriguez a run of starts in the hope he could untracked with consistent at bats.
“He is not doing what he has done, and he’s not doing what he’s capable of doing,” Huntington said. “We’re working through a stretch where he’s playing three straight games.
“Sean has been working really hard to make an adjustment to try to get right. The only way to figure that out is to play in a game. It’s tough to do that playing one out of seven games. This is a cluster of at bats as we rest our players.”
It obviously didn’t help. In the three starts, Rodriguez was 0-for-9 with six strikeouts.
“I wear it definitely,” Rodriguez told mlb.com. “Heavy. Probably heavier than most guys do. I don’t want to be doing anywhere near this bad. I don’t think there’s anybody who wants to win more than I do.”
The Pirates could be forced into a decision when Jung Ho Kang is ready to come up from the minor leagues. Kang has been playing shortstop occasionally at Class AAA Indianapolis.
“Sean is the consummate professional, and Sean cares about helping this team win as much as anybody in this clubhouse,” Huntington said. “We still see the tools and traits to be able to do that.”
Right-hander Clay Holmes was called up from Indianapolis as lefty reliever Michael Feliz was placed on the 10-day disabled list with inflammation in his left shoulder.
Feliz had been pitching poorly recently, posting a 9.95 earned run average and 1.970 WHIP over his last 12ª innings.
“Michael said he had a little tightness, so it’s an opportunity to take care of that, give him a little bit of a breather and get a look at Clay,” Huntington said.
Holmes pitched two scoreless innings on Sunday in his second major league appearance.
In his last four starts for Indianapolis, Holmes walked four and had 28 strikeouts in 25• innings. His ERA in that span was 0.71.
Huntington on the Pirates’ tumble
“We have ability. We can stay with good teams. We’ve shown that. We haven’t shown the ability to play consistently well enough to make enough plays to win enough games against good teams. That’s how you fall from nine games over .500 to four games under in a relatively short period of time.
“We’ve been a good team. We’ve been a not very good team. Individually we’ve done some nice things. Collectively we haven’t done enough.”
After the series in New York, the Pirates will fly to San Diego, then bus to Los Angeles.
They’re scheduled to get home from Los Angeles at 5:15 a.m. on July 5.
That’s 4,895 air miles and another 112 miles on the buses.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org