Pirates notebook: Clubhouse in a 'good place'


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CINCINNATI -- As the Pirates approach the July 31 trade deadline, manager Clint Hurdle said he has a good sense about what certain moves could do to affect the chemistry of his clubhouse.

But criticisms that trades made at the 2012 deadline negatively affected the clubhouse chemistry of a winning ball club are a bit overblown, Hurdle said.

"I don't think that's as big a deal as it has been made out to be," he said.

General manager Neal Huntington has taken criticism from fans, pundits and even some players for deadline moves that sent third baseman Casey McGehee and relief pitcher Brad Lincoln elsewhere.

Since the finish of the 2012 season, Huntington has conceded he might have upset clubhouse chemistry with deadline moves.

The Pirates were 15 games above .500 at the 2012 deadline and finished the season 79-83.

"I think Neal has fallen on the blade in that area," Hurdle said. "I do know this, you bring in a player and he plays well, there's never a problem -- never a problem with chemistry, never a problem with the fit. If you bring in a player and he doesn't play well, then it kind of spider-webs off on the why."

He spoke with players at the end of the 2012 season and again this year about how those moves affected the clubhouse. And he installed a leadership council this season, where he has discussed clubhouse issues including the potential impact of trades.

Hurdle said the Pirates want to bring in players who can contribute to a "competitive" clubhouse atmosphere.

"We're in a good place," he said. "These men are in a good place. We want to make sure we bring in like-minded people. And sometimes, you might borderline be naïve to believe your chemistry and your environment can help somebody who might be on the fence."

The Pirates are "definitely looking" to improve via trade, and Hurdle said his players understand and encourage that.

Surgery for McPherson

Minor league pitcher Kyle McPherson, once considered a favorite to make the starting rotation out of spring training, had Tommy John surgery July 10. The Pirates estimate it will be one year before he can return to competition.

McPherson, 25, made just two starts for Class AAA Indianapolis before being placed on the disabled list. After more than two months of rest and treatment, McPherson visited orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews, who performed the surgery.

He went 0-3 with an 8.46 ERA in six spring training starts.

Injury updates

Two injured starters will begin throwing programs this week. Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez (left forearm tightness) has been on the disabled list since June 6 and has rested his arm the past three weeks.

Right-hander James McDonald (right shoulder discomfort) completed a rehabilitation assignment June 25 but remained on the disabled list with the lingering issue. He has rested his arm the past two weeks.

Jeff Locke, who missed his previous start with tightness in his lower back, pitched without issue in a bullpen session Friday. He is scheduled to start today against the Reds without limitation.

Decisions, decisions

After his loss Friday night, starter Francisco Liriano (9-4) has received decisions in his first 13 starts this season. The previous Pirates pitcher to get decisions in his first 13 starts of the season was Jimmy Anderson, who went 5-8 in his first 13 starts of 2002.

Anderson also got a decision -- a win -- in his 14th start that year.

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First Published July 21, 2013 4:00 AM


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