BALTIMORE — It’s no secret the Pirates had a rough stretch to close out April, and need to recover before digging an insurmountable hole.
So who does manager Clint Hurdle look to in the clubhouse in times of trouble?
There are some key figures he and the team count on, and he mentioned several: Jason Grilli, Clint Barmes, Russell Martin, Francisco Liriano and Andrew McCutchen, among others.
He stressed that the whole team is tight.
“We have a really connected group of men out there,” Hurdle said. “And there are other leaders besides the guys on the [leadership] council. Grilli’s a guy that’ll step up. Barmes is a guy whose voice is heard. Martin, most definitely. Liriano now has taken up that opportunity and I think he’s proud of it. I mean it’s something he has never been a part of before or had the opportunity to do and that’s been cool for him.
“McCutchen every year has developed another year of leadership. You’ve got guys in the bullpen, [Mark] Melancon and [Tony] Watson. They have their satellite conversations. They have groups. It’s not one guy by any means trying to go [rah-rah].”
McCutchen said the team did not do anything special over the course of Monday’s day off and two subsequent rainouts in Baltimore, but just went about their work.
“We know what we’re capable of doing. We know the game of baseball and how crazy it is,” he said. “There can be a span where things don’t go so well and there can be a span where things do. Needless to say, we know what we need to do. We know how to change those things around for ourselves. Individually, it’s just about taking the days we’re getting and at the same time getting the work in we need to get in to get ourselves prepared.”
He said for an individual to help the team, he needs to know how to self-evaluate and fix his own struggles.
“It’s what it’s all about. It’s about doing what you need to do individually, getting your work in,” McCutchen said. “Only you know how you feel. You know what you need to work on. You need to go out there and do it. It’s all that there is. To be a team player you’ve got to assess what you need to do personally first. That’s what we’re doing.”
The Pirates were not eligible for a 26th-man roster addition Thursday because of the timing of the doubleheader.
Teams can call up a 26th player for the second game of a split day-night doubleheader, but not for an old-fashioned back-to-back doubleheader.
Asked if that rule made sense to him, Hurdle said: “It really doesn’t matter. There’s ways around it. You actually could take a guy off and add a guy in between. There’s different ways.”
Wandy Rodriguez pitched 31⁄3 innings in a rehab start for Class AA Altoona.
Hurdle had only a preliminary report on his left-hander before Game 1 of the doubleheader, but wanted to see how he felt a day later.
“He reported he felt fine afterward,” Hurdle said. “I’ll see how he feels [today]. The last time this flared up, it flared up the day after he pitched.”
Hurdle said the three days of rest this week could provide some rare flexibility for his bullpen in the doubleheader.
“It’s not too often you try and use a guy in both games,” Hurdle said. “You could look at a low pitch count on a one-inning guy maybe in the first game, possibly bring him back in the second. Depending if you get the opportunity to close, how many pitches does your closer throw in the first versus an opportunity in the second?”
Jenn Menendez: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @JennMenendez.