Before rainout, Pirates manager defends use of Burnitz

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Pirates manager Jim Tracy, in his pregame media gathering this morning before the game was rained out, appeared more agitated than at any point since taking the job.

What set him off was a reporter's question about how much longer he can stick with outfielder Jeromy Burnitz, whose name again was on the lineup card in the No. 5 spot despite being 2 for 31 in May.

"I'm not going to answer that. I'm just not," Tracy said, raising his voice. "I'm not going to say that, by May 14, if so-and-so doesn't have two hits in a game, his [rear end] is out of there. I ain't doing that. If you played the game, then you know that you go through ..."

He changed course.

"You think those guys are enjoying this? You think it's fun for them to be going through it? And do you think that they're not also aware of the fact that, over the course of the past three weeks, we've done nothing but play winnable baseball games, all but one or two? Where you're one hit away? ... It's no fun for them."

Tracy tried to explain why he has not criticized players, although he has done so with younger players on occasion.

"They don't need to get up in the morning and read a lot of stuff in the paper that their manager is completely down on them or disconsolate with them. They need to know I'm there with them, OK? ... We're all wearing the same uniform. That's when you need somebody to put their damn arm around you and say, 'Hey, let's go.' "

He then described his options for benching ineffective players as limited.

"Everybody keeps asking me questions about how much longer you're going to go with this or that. Right now, I've got a bench with two guys with bad legs, a backup catcher, an infielder and an outfielder. So, everybody, don't ask me any more questions about how much longer we're going with this guy or that guy and make it seem like I have a plethora of choices. I don't! I don't! We're trying to make this group go as best we can."

Shortstop Jack Wilson and catcher Ryan Doumit are limited to pinch-hitting duty because of strained hamstrings.

Today's afternoon game with the Arizona Diamondbacks was rained out and rescheduled for 12:35 p.m. June 19.

More details in tomorrow's Post-Gazette.


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