Pirates notebook: Hurdle faces an old friend


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There was a time when Pirates manager Clint Hurdle offered Walt Weiss nearly every job on his staff in Colorado.

Turns out he was waiting for the big one.

On Saturday, the two reconnected for about 45 minutes before Game 2 of the weekend series, with Weiss in town as first-year manager of the Rockies.

"Walt and I joked about it because that's the first thing I told him," Hurdle said. "I never realized you wanted the manager's job because you turned down every other job -- first-base coach, third-base coach, hitting coach, bench coach.

"I didn't offer him pitching or the bullpen job. I thought that he had the stock, I didn't know if it would ever make sense in his life."

The Rockies have struggled this season and were 52-59 heading into Saturday.

But Weiss, who left professional baseball for a few years before being hired in the fall, has what it takes, Hurdle said.

"His awareness, his game awareness ... he has the fabric, no doubt, to manage," Hurdle said. "To systematically make decisions, to watch the overall play -- not just from a middle infield perspective, but that's a good perspective to have."

Sanchez a rookie 'runt'

Pedro Alvarez and Russell Martin were not in the lineup Saturday. That meant Josh Harrison started for Alvarez and Tony Sanchez got to catch Francisco Liriano.

Earlier this week, Sanchez heard himself referred to as "your Bucs catcher" on a radio introduction, and a buzz of emotion ran through him.

"Oh man, I guess I really am a catcher in the big leagues," Sanchez said with a grin.

His debut came in June against the Los Angeles Angels on a road trip, but this time around he's behind the plate.

"Don't get me wrong, I was extremely excited for that but I knew I wasn't going to catch. I was there for my bat which is funny," Sanchez said. "It really didn't sink in until I realized I'd be catching that second game of the doubleheader [Tuesday]. ... You're just trying to take advantage of that opportunity."

He said he was up on the railing in the dugout one day this week when A.J. Burnett told him he couldn't see the game.

"It was 'Alright, I'll move.' He was just joking, but for me, it's like, don't be noticed. Stay low key," Sanchez said. "As rookies, you never want to get comfortable and think you're entitled to anything. I'm the runt of the litter here. Zero pull. Zero say. Speak when spoken to. Listen. Keep your ears open. It's all a part of the process right now, especially for a young catcher to come into the best pitching staff in the big leagues."

The development of Liriano

Hurdle said that in the past, Liriano paid more attention to blowing by a batter than he does today.

"We talk about getting to the point where he does get a runner on base, it's a completely different pitcher. It's about one pitch to get a double play staying in rhythm and tempo for the defense. That for him is the biggest change he's made," Hurdle said.

Could that be because left-handers take longer to develop?

"He very well looks like he's falling into that category. Time will tell as it continues to play out. This is three-fifths of a season," Hurdle said. "You have seen it throughout the game of baseball. There's evidence to it. I've heard it repeatedly. It's one thing we do keep in mind as an organization."

Stats

Heading into Saturday night, the Pirates had recorded an extra-base hit at least once a game for 49 in a row, a season high. ... They have out-homered opponents at home, 42-24. ... Starling Marte is one triple shy of becoming the first Pirate's player since Jack Wilson in 2004 to hit 10 doubles, triples, and home runs in the same season.

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Jenn Menendez: jmenendez@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1959 and Twitter @JennMenendez. First Published August 4, 2013 4:00 AM


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