Pirates Notebook: Cedeno kick-starts production
WASHINGTON -- After Ronny Cedeno went 1 for 3 with a double and an RBI Thursday night in Toronto, he explained his recent success in simple terms.
"I try to see the ball -- hit the ball," he said.
Turns out a recent mechanical shift helps him see the ball better.
Cedeno's reduced front-leg kick in the batter's box coincided with his scalding two-week stretch. He was 14 of 29 (.483) with 4 doubles, 5 RBIs and 5 walks in his past 10 games and hit .571 in the past week.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said he noticed Cedeno lowered his leg kick about two and a half weeks ago.
"As soon as he stopped it, I saw it that game and asked him about it," Hurdle said.
"There comes a point in time when you got to trust players. He wanted to make an adjustment, he wasn't comfortable getting big with it, putting it down, he thought he had a little bit too much going on."
Cedeno said the reduced motion keeps his head steady so he can better track the pitch. His average, which was .225 June 19, climbed to .252 entering a game Friday night against the Nationals.
"I'm looking for what I want," he said, regarding his approach.
Hurdle familiar with Johnson
Years before Hurdle would manage against Washington manager Davey Johnson, Hurdle, the player, told a fib to Johnson, the minor league manager.
When Hurdle joined the Tidewater (now Norfolk) Tides, then a New York Mets Class AAA affiliate, an injury at third base forced Johnson to ask Hurdle if he previously had played third.
"Absolutely," Hurdle said. So Hurdle played third.
A couple of days later Johnson called Hurdle into his office.
"You've never played third base in your life, have you?" he asked Hurdle. Hurdle said, "Absolutely not."
But Hurdle said Johnson worked with him, and, over the years, the two developed a strong relationship.
"I've learned a lot of baseball from him, learned a lot about the offensive game," he said. "He was a very pivotal person in the New York Mets rise in the mid-'80s and he's been a very good major league manager in a number of different places."
Neil Walker did not start a second consecutive game because of a sore back, though Hurdle said Walker's back felt better.
"We'll give him a game [today], then it's a day game, then another day game," Hurdle said. "We'll see how we get through that."
Hurdle said he was available off the bench if necessary.
Walker had played in 78 of 80 games. He hit .301 in April, but .227 in May and .203 in June.
• Xavier Paul said his right hamstring, which tightened up before the game Wednesday, felt good after running Friday afternoon.
• Joe Beimel began a rehabilitation assignment Friday, joining Pedro Alvarez in Class A Bradenton. Beimel is on the 15-day disabled list because of left elbow inflammation.
• Luis Silverio coached third base again Friday, with Mark Strittmatter manning first. Hurdle said because of Nick Leyva's sore back, the Pirates probably will use that setup throughout the series.
• The previous time the Pirates played the Nationals, May 16, the Pirates lost their sixth game in a row. Since that point, they are 23-17.
First Published July 2, 2011 12:00 am