Hurdle has enjoyed Clemente festivities

By John Mehno

For the Mirror

PITTSBURGH — Some of the Pirates got an early start on Thursday so they could go to school.

It was Roberto Clemente Day throughout MLB, and the Pirates participated in a number of community projects to commemorate the occasion.

Clint Hurdle was among those who visited the city’s Brashear High School.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of eight (Clemente) celebrations,” Hurdle said before the game against the Cincinnati Reds. “The impact that you continue to feel in our city is real. The (No. 21) jersey is still around.

“Conversations still happen. The people I see talk about watching him play. But it’s all throughout the year. It’s not just today. I think our organization has done a wonderful job continuing to perpetuate the man, the player and the family.

“I’m glad that we’re passionate about it and that baseball has honored it. I think it’s wonderful that players are acknowledged for their contributions within their own communities with his name attached to it. It’s special.”

Hurdle has pictures of Clemente framed in his office at PNC Park. Above the steps on the tunnel the players use to reach the field is a sign with the Clemente quote, “When I put on my uniform, I feel I am the proudest man on earth.”

The Pirates coaching staff and most of the playing roster participated in five different events around town.

Elsewhere:

n Todd Tomczyk, the Pirates director of team medicine, provided his weekly update on injury issues:

n Chad Kuhl: “He began this journey almost eight weeks ago with his forearm and elbow. He’s built up to a point where he threw a 30-pitch bullpen (Monday), fastballs only. Still working through the process. Obviously we’re running out of days and season. The goal is to get him to some kind of competition, whether that’s meaningful innings in the major league season, again, we’re working through that. We would like to get him up to game intensity and game speed before the end of the season so he has a basic general health status.”

n Elias Diaz: “He’s truly day to day. It could be a seven to 10 day thing. It’s a right hamstring strain. We’re trying to balance what’s best for him this season and what’s best for him in the offseason to make sure he comes in healthy for spring training. Not saying he’s shut down for the season, but we’re working through what that looks like.”

n Jung Ho Kang (wrist surgery): “Unfortunately, the Indianapolis season ended, so he transferred his rehab back to Florida. He’s in the early stages of the swing process. Similar to (Kuhl), we’re trying to get a general health status with Jung Ho. What that means is we’d like him to get into some kind of competition, whether it’s here or the Fall Instructional League, we want something where we can gauge his health going into the offseason. We’re optimistic he’ll have a full recovery, but we’d like him to go home with a good mindset.”

n Homer Bailey, the Reds’ starter on Wednesday, came into the game with a 1-13 record and a 6.13 earned run average with a 1.648 WHIP. The Reds had lost 18 of the 19 games he started.

Just before the start of the 2014 season, the Reds signed him for six years and $104 million. He is being paid $21 million this year and is guaranteed $23 million next season.

There is a mutual option on his $25 million commitment for 2020. He can be bought out for $5 million.

Since signing the contract, Bailey is 18-31 with a 5.29 ERA and WHIP of 1.509.

“There’s no getting around the commitment we have to him,” Reds manager Jim Riggleman said. “There’s a financial commitment. That certainly has something to do with it. But it’s not like you have five other guys who are lighting it up. If we had five other starters who were head and shoulders outperforming Homer, it would be different.”

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com

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