Pirates Q&A with Dejan Kovacevic

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Just remember, people, we have your names. No, not just those who persist in doubting Adam LaRoche despite a fairly exciting track record and the bomb yesterday. We have a separate list of all those who demanded Tom Gorzelanny's eternal banishment and condemnation because he had some lousy games in spring training.

And one day, maybe in a month or two, we will carry those lists to the top of Mount Washington and roll them down the tracks of the Duquesne Incline -- yes, the whole way down because they are that long -- and everyone will be exposed.

Either that, or I am just making this up and never save any e-mails ...

Q: Hi, Dejan. With Adam LaRoche struggling in the early going, do you think it would do him any benefit to bat lower in the lineup temporarily? Perhaps four or five games batting seventh would reduce the pressure on him and spark his return to last year's form.

Peter Selednik of Plum

KOVACEVIC: It might help, Peter. It is one thing to see him struggle awfully to even make contact, as he was earlier in the season. It is quite another to see now how frustrated he is by hitting the ball right on the button, but right at people, as was the case a few times in this St. Louis series. (Though he seemed to strike that Adam Wainwright fastball pretty well yesterday.)

And from there, it is something else to see him take it out into the field, as he might have in the ninth inning Monday.

That is pressure, and LaRoche will be the first to tell you he is feeling it.

Much as he professes to like clutch situations and all that, this might not be the best time to have him out there with men on base.

Q: With Ronny Paulino's dreadful start and Ryan Doumit's torrid hitting in Class AAA, do you think it is even a remote possibilty that Doumit will get another shot to be the Bucs' starting catcher?

Dan Cantwell of Albany, N.Y.


Well, maybe, I suppose, if things were to continue indefinitely in this way. But it seems extraordinarily unlikely, given the Pirates' passion for Paulino's work with the pitching staff, as well as their belief in his bat.

It should be noted, though, for those who do not pay attention to the daily Minor-League Report that runs with our Notebook, that Doumit is off to a .440 start at the plate and has caught all but one of Indianapolis' games so far.

Q: Hi, Dejan. I was the irate Buccos fan who wrote that angry, whining email after last Tuesday's loss to the Cards. Your piece about Tracy controlling his temper shames me! I really like what that says about him ... and do not like what it says about me.

Stan Capper of Waldorf, Md.

KOVACEVIC: Easy there, Stan. You were far from the fan who wrote on that subject. It was the topic of a ton of mail this way, and it came up later in the week on a couple of the TV shows I do back home.

It is very, very common in Pittsburgh for the fans to want to see fire and brimstone from their manager/coach after a tough loss, kind of the way Michel Therrien responded to the Penguins' lousy effort in Game 3 the other day, kind of the way Bill Cowher did it after pretty much every lousy game the Steelers had.

That notebook item was intended only to give you Tracy's side of the matter, as well as that of a couple players.

Q: I saw a reader asked about Jason Bay's arm. The Hardball Times has done a couple articles on statistic analysis of outfield arms. For 2005, their methods found Bay to have the worst arm in left field. Their 2006 numbers also had Bay near the bottom of the bunch. Just thought I'd pass these along.

Jon Shelly of Highland Park, Pittsburgh

KOVACEVIC: I hear Bay will be autographing copies of these pieces at a local mall next week.

Thing No. 30 that makes Pittsburgh great, comes courtesy of Nicolas Lewis of Bellevue, a longtime reader I had a chance to meet at PirateFest:

"Using your student ID to travel Downtown by bus, walk over to the Clemente Bridge and watch SkyBlast at PNC Park, all for free."

If I might add to that, Nic, there is one specific spot on that bridge where you can get a clear view of home plate and the mound, just to the right of the batter's eye. It makes for a lousy way to watch a game, assuming you are interested in seeing where the ball might go, but, hey, free is good.

Until tomorrow, when the itinerary has us in ... Milwaukee, I think. Or is that today?


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