Don’t judge Pirates yet

PITTSBURGH – Can you wait a minute?

Or maybe a week?

The baseball season is one week old, and the Pittsburgh Pirates have had major problems getting hits and scoring runs.

In their first six games, the Pirates were shut out twice, had two games where they scored one run and scored two runs in another. Their “breakout” was a 3-0 win in the season’ s second game.

You want reasons? The first three home games were played in winter temperatures. The Chicago Cubs actually hit for a lower average than the Pirates did while winning two of three.

When the Pirates got into a better climate in Los Angeles, the pitching got a lot better, too. The Dodgers’ first two starters were Zach Greinke and Clayton Kershaw, two former Cy Young award winners. The third starter was Korean Ryu Hyun-Jin, who cost the Dodgers a $26 million “posting fee” just to open negotiations that led to a six-year, $36 million contract.

In other words, they faced some pretty good pitching in four of the first six games (including Cubs opening day starter Jeff Samardzija).

The 2013 Pirates aren’t a championship-caliber team. But they’re also not a team that will have a .200 batting average all season and hit one home run every six games.

They’ve been off to a terrible start offensively, but it won’t last. They won’t be confused with the old “Lumber Company” teams of the 1970s, but this is basically the same group that hit 170 home runs last season.

Stay calm.

No problem?

After what happened at Rutgers, Robert Morris decided to investigate Mike Rice’s time as head coach for its basketball team.

Robert Morris reported yesterday that only one of the 17 people interviewed could recall any inappropriate behavior by Rice. That person remembered Rice throwing a basketball at a player and using inappropriate language.

So Rice only turned into a raving, man-handling maniac when he arrived at Rutgers? That’s possible, but it might not be very likely.

It’s more likely that his ex-players at Robert Morris would rather not pile on and simply decided to pass on the chance to add to his considerable woes.

Stepping up

Maybe Sidney Crosby’s broken jaw isn’t all bad news for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

With Crosby out, this is Evgeni Malkin’s chance to get his game at a higher level in advance of the Stanley Cup playoffs. It’s been a very ordinary season so far for Malkin, the league’s defending Most Valuable Player.

If he finds a higher gear, it increases the chances the Penguins will be playing into the summer.

Mehno can be reached at