When Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has spoken about aggression on the bases, he has expanded it beyond steals. Taking an extra base on a well-placed hit and advancing on pitches in the dirt also fall under the aggression spectrum.
Friday night the Pirates unveiled the latest club in their bag, a tag play that only works in the most specific of circumstances.
"It's just another version of us trying to put pressure on the opponent and force them to make plays, and stay in an aggressive, bold mindset on the bases," said first-base coach Rick Sofield, who installed the play at spring training.
Andrew McCutchen singled to lead off the eighth inning with the Pirates leading, 2-0. He got a late jump on a hit-and-run, but reached third on Gaby Sanchez's single to right field.
Neil Walker then popped out to Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez in foul territory down the first-base line. McCutchen and Sanchez tagged as soon as Gonzalez made the catch.
"[The Dodgers] have to make a choice," Sofield said. "Either way they make it, good luck to them."
Gonzalez could concede the run, throw to second and hope to have the bases empty and two outs. Or he could make the longer throw home and attempt to stop the run. He went home, but McCutchen beat the throw.
Sofield must call the play. Much like a fake punt, which only occurs at a certain point on the field against a certain defensive alignment with a certain distance remaining, the play requires several factors to work.
"This league is so good that if you don't force them to make plays sometimes, or if you don't make them do things, if you sit there in that boxing match, who knows where the night can go," Sofield said.
The Pirates designated left-hander Mike Zagurski for assignment Saturday and added Brandon Cumpton, the starting pitcher Saturday, to the active and 40-man rosters.
The Pirates have 10 days to trade or release Zagurski, who was a non-roster invitee to spring training. They can send him to the minors if he clears waivers, but they would need his permission to do so.
Zagurski joined the Pirates May 27 from Class AAA Indianapolis, five days ahead of the June 1 opt-out clause in his contract. He allowed 10 runs on 10 hits and eight walks in six innings.
Jeanmar Gomez threw a bullpen session Saturday morning at PNC Park and said he felt good.
"I threw all my pitches," he said. "The arm after that feels great."
Gomez made a rehabilitation start Thursday for Class AAA Indianapolis and allowed two runs, one earned, in three innings. The main hurdle, he said, was going back out for the second inning. It was at that point in his start June 2 that his forearm tightened and forced him to the 15-day disabled list.
"When I came back for the second one, I threw the second one, I felt good," he said. "The important thing was, the arm was feeling good after the first inning."
Marte to DL?
Starling Marte might have to go on the disabled list if he cannot play by Monday against the Reds in Cincinnati, Hurdle said.
Marte missed his third consecutive game Saturday because of pain in his ribs.mobilehome - pirates
Bill Brink: firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @BrinkPG.