Pirates Notebook: Finding bullpen relief might come from within
August 8, 2011 4:00 AM
Matt Freed /Post-Gazette
Neil Walker can't come up with the ball as San Diego's Will Venable slides into second base in the seventh inning Sunday.
By Michael Sanserino Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Pirates need relief for their relievers.
But fixing recent bullpen woes could prove challenging, general manager Neal Huntington said.
"The toughest part about this stretch is it's not one or two guys that have been bad for an extended period of time," Huntington said. "It's spotty. Everybody's taken their turn. They'd all been so good for so long that now we're getting some bad stretches, and unfortunately it's a guy or two a night, but it's a different guy or two a night."
Huntington said he continues to scour the waiver wires in search of a bullpen arm -- or anybody else that can help the team over the next two months. But the best options might come from within the organization, Huntington said.
"We've got some guys internally that can answer some questions for us," he said, naming players such as Tim Wood, Chris Leroux and Danny Moskos.
The Pirates recalled RHP Brad Lincoln from Class AAA Indianapolis Saturday to help give life to the bullpen and rest to some tired arms. The Pirates optioned LHP Tony Watson to Indianapolis, mostly to give him rest.
"It's not so much to have Tony go down and pitch four times in the next 10 days," Hurdle said. "It's to go down because they've got an overflux of pitchers where maybe he can catch his breath."
In Lincoln's two previous major league relief appearances entering Sunday, he allowed two earned runs and two hits in two innings.
Lincoln has not pitched in relief for Indianapolis this season and has been used as a starter most of the times he has pitched for the Pirates.
"It is a little different feeling," Lincoln said of pitching in relief, "but now that I have that experience out of the bullpen, I think I'll be able to control my emotions a little better."
Lincoln pitched two innings Sunday, allowing three earned runs on four hits.
Ross Ohlendorf (right shoulder) will make one more rehab start this week before his time on the disabled list expires. Huntington said the team has not yet determined where Ohlendorf will go once his rehab stint is complete.
"We'll have some decisions to make as he comes back," Huntington said.
Hurdle also said he hoped to give RHP Daniel McCutchen a couple of days off to rest his arm. McCutchen has not been as effective since he threw 92 pitches in the Pirates' 19-inning marathon loss to Atlanta July 26. In nine outings before that, McCutchen had allowed one earned run. In his four outings since, he has given up six earned runs.
"We can all say what we want," Hurdle said, "but he threw 92 pitches in that short period of time, even though we gave him three days off, that's uncharted territory for a young man. For an old man. For any man."
McCutchen pitched Sunday on one day's rest, throwing a wild pitch that resulted in a run scored.
But Hurdle said there are some bullpen issues that cannot be blamed on fatigue.
He said he struggled to understand poor outings Saturday by Chris Resop, who gave up four earned runs but failed to record an out after two days rest, and Jose Veras, who struggled with his command after a day off.
Ronny Cedeno was out of the Pirates' starting lineup after an 0-for-4, two-error performance the night before.
"There is work to be done for Ronny, as there is all of us," Hurdle said.
Cedeno has been a difficult player to understand this season. He had an errorless streak last longer than 40 games this season, but he has had several memorable miscues on offense and defense.
"I heard all last year how the focus just was in and out, all over the place," Hurdle said. "I think that's been much improved, but you do see some snapshots of it. And we very well could have saw one [Saturday] night."