Pirates Notebook: Iwamura aware of booing

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Aki Iwamura was back in the Pirates' lineup Saturday night, having been relegated to pinch-hitting since May 15 because of a strained right hamstring.

The start after Iwamura was showered with boos Friday at PNC Park after he struck out in an eighth-inning at-bat. He went 0 for 3 with two walks Saturday, leaving him hitless in 32 at-bats and dropping his average to .152.

Did Iwamura hear those boos?

"It is usual for a player to want to turn a boo into a cheer, and, yes, I heard them," Iwamura said through a translator.

Manager John Russell did not pinpoint just one reason for Iwamura's poor start.

"It's the combination of a lot of things," Russell said. "A change of leagues, sustaining a major injury last year and coming back from that and then coming to a new ballclub and trying to get acclimated to the club. Then, he wanted to get off to a really good start, and it just kind of snowballed for him."

"I have no excuses for having these numbers," Iwamura said. "I'd rather think about getting back where I was as soon as possible. I just have no excuses and am looking forward."

Iwamura hit .290 for Tampa Bay last season in 69 games, missing a large chunk of the year with a torn ligament in his left knee, which still requires a brace.

"The biggest thing is to get him relaxed and get him back to doing what he's capable of doing," Russell said. "Because he's put up numbers and he's had success in the major leagues, the biggest thing right now for him is to just relax and let it happen."

The game today will be televised back to Japan on NHK, one of that country's largest networks.

Buried treasure

• Catcher Ryan Doumit was out of the lineup for a second time in four games, but Russell said he was simply being rested. Doumit did pinch-hit and work one inning behind the plate Saturday.

Steve Pearce, who has reached base safely in eight of his past 10 plate appearances, was on the bench for a second consecutive game Saturday. He had a pinch-hit walk.

Ryan Church's busting out of a 1-for-25 slide with three hits Saturday was no coincidence: He attributed his slump to a lack of timing since that bruised wrist May 7, having cut down his batting practice time to limit fatigue on the wrist. He changed that with a full indoor session Saturday. "It's not going to get worse," Church said of the wrist. "Might as well push it."

• There is no updated timetable on rehabilitating relievers Jose Ascanio, Tyler Yates or Neal Cotts, general manager Neal Huntington said. All had been expected to resume pitching by May.

• The start of the game was delayed by rain for an hour and 32 minutes. Actual playing time was an excruciating three hours, 31 minutes, meaning it ended just after midnight.

• Class AAA Indianapolis second baseman Neil Walker has been out of the starting lineup the past two games -- though still playing sparingly -- because of a scratched tip on his left index finger.

Dejan Kovacevic: dkovacevic@post-gazette.com . Find more at PBC Blog . Colin Dunlap: cdunlap@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1459.


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