Pirates Notebook: Games will go on during G-20

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The Pirates' games will go on as scheduled during the G-20 summit.

There had been discussion with the office of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, the Pittsburgh Police and federal authorities about how best to handle the Sept. 24-25 games at PNC Park that coincide with the international event across the Allegheny River, but all concerned assured the team that the games could be played.

The Sept. 24 game against the Cincinnati Reds begins at 12:35 p.m. The next day, the Pirates play the Los Angeles Dodgers at 7:05 p.m. The primary topic of discussion had been moving the Thursday game to the evening, and several other possibilities also were raised, including moving the games to other dates.

Team president Frank Coonelly said yesterday that the Pirates felt better about keeping the games as originally scheduled once assured there will be sufficient access to the stadium. He added that details on roads and parking will be made public later, after more consultation with government officials.

The Penguins have rescheduled an exhibition game that had been set for Sept. 25, and many other businesses, universities and institutions have announced they will close for those two days.

Coonelly said the Pirates plan to embrace the G-20 opportunity, adding that "several groups" that will visit have contacted the team about attending games.

"We look forward to showcasing PNC Park, one of Pittsburgh's crown jewels, for the visitors in town from across the globe," Coonelly said.

Doumit dropped in order

Ryan Doumit was dropped from his usual cleanup spot to No. 5 last night, manager John Russell explaining that he hoped to get his catcher to "relax," with his average now down to .222.

"We're just giving him a break," Russell said. "I think he's really been pushing it. Right now, he sees a couple guys on base and he's trying to drive them all in at once. He needs to relax, find a better, balanced approach, hit offspeed pitches and use the whole field."

No timetable for Ascanio

Pitcher Jose Ascanio's ailing right shoulder has a strained lat muscle in the back, according to an MRI taken Monday. He will not resume throwing until he feels better, and no timetable has been set for any aspect of his recovery.

Ascanio was to be added to a rotation that will go six deep for September. Now, the most likely candidate for that role is Daniel McCutchen, upon his near-certain recall from Class AAA Indianapolis in September.

Russell said the Pirates do not want any starter to exceed a year-to-year increase of 40 innings. Zach Duke is the staff leader with 166 innings, close to his 185 total of last year. Paul Maholm has 148 after 206 1/3 last year. Ross Ohlendorf has 143 after 131 2/3 last year, including the minors.

Buried treasure

• The Pirates spent $8,919,000 for their 23 signed players out of 51 draft picks, sixth-highest payout in Major League Baseball, general manager Neal Huntington said. Last year, the Pirates spent a franchise-record $9,780,500 in signing 32 of 50 picks, and owner Bob Nutting had authorized them to spend up to that level again this year. Huntington said there were "four or five" other players the Pirates had hoped to sign but that, for various reasons, it did not work out.

• Because of all the pitchers added in the past two drafts, Huntington said, the Pirates plan to "piggyback" starters with the two Class A affiliates next year. In the piggyback, prospects pitch 3-4 innings each of a given game. That already is happening at West Virginia and Bradenton.

• Pitcher Phil Dumatrait must be recalled Friday once his 30-day rehabilitation stint is up, unless the team puts him through waivers and keeps him with Indianapolis.


Catch more on the Pirates at the PG's PBC Blog . Dejan Kovacevic can be reached at dkovacevic@post-gazette.com .


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