Patience wears thin for struggling offense

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After the 14th game this season in which the Pirates scored zero or one run, manager Clint Hurdle said the organization is open-minded regarding how to improve its offense.

"At this point in time, we are ... aware of where our strengths are," Hurdle said after a 3-1 loss Wednesday to the New York Mets. "They're off the mound and defensively."

The Pirates entered the game ranked fourth in the National League in team ERA and third in runs allowed, but last in runs, batting average and on-base percentage.

Hurdle said the organization continually scans the league for potential upgrades, but that he also wanted to give the players on the roster the freedom to play.

"I don't think anybody wants to work in an environment where you're continually looking over your shoulder," he said. "You're always trying to be positive and coach guys up. We want to give them some time to right some things."

Hurdle has identified a range of between 125 and 150 at-bats as the point when sample size becomes less of an issue and he feels more confident about what he sees in a player. Most regulars are at that point, and the platoon players are nearing it.

"This is the point in the season, for me, I've always tried to show some patience," Hurdle said. "Show the patience to get to this point in time before you start putting a fine-tooth comb on it, a very acute focus."

First start for Hernandez

Gorkys Hernandez made his first major league start in left field and batted second. He went 0 for 3 with a walk and a strikeout.

Hernandez made his major league debut Monday and struck out in a pinch-hit appearance. He was hitting .266 with a .355 slugging percentage in Class AAA Indianapolis before the Pirates added him to the roster.

The Pirates acquired Hernandez, along with Jeff Locke and Wednesday's starter Charlie Morton, in June 2009 from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for Nate McLouth. In parts of four minor league seasons above Class A, Hernandez hit .277 with eight home runs and 64 stolen bases.

Hernandez joined Casey McGehee and Yamaico Navarro in a lineup intended to throw right-handers at Mets starter Jonathon Niese and give some players, such as Jose Tabata and Pedro Alvarez, two consecutive days off including today's scheduled off day.

Niese entered the game allowing an .815 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) to right-handed batters, but holding left-handers to a .422 OPS.

"We've got some guys here that we need to get involved," Hurdle said. "You got to justify having guys on the bench and if you want them to be valuable on the bench you've got to find opportunities for them to start."

The team was hitting .234 against left-handers; .212 against right-handers, though Andrew McCutchen's .465 mark against left-handers pulled up the team mark.

Grilli activated

The Pirates activated Jason Grilli from the bereavement list and optioned Locke to Class AAA Indianapolis before Wednesday's game. Locke did not appear in a game during his three days with the team. He was scheduled to throw a bullpen session Wednesday before returning to Indianapolis. Grilli struck out the side in the eighth inning Wednesday. pirates

First Published May 24, 2012 12:00 AM


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