Pirates Notebook: Injuries no minor matter
Share with others:
DENVER -- One by one, many of the Pirates' top prospects have fallen to injury this summer, mostly of the highly unpredictable and unpreventable variety.
The latest was Class AA Altoona center fielder Gorkys Hernandez, who will miss three to four months because of a fractured right ring finger and the surgery required to mend it, director of player development Kyle Stark said Wednesday. Hernandez's finger was hit by a pitch while attempting a bunt Sunday.
"Been a rough stretch with freak injuries," Stark said.
Hernandez has plenty of company on the major-injury list:
• Outfielder Starling Marte was hit in the hand by a pitch May 13, later had surgery and currently is on a rehabilitation stint.
• Catcher Tony Sanchez was hit in the head twice by pitches, the second on June 22 fracturing his jaw. He might return for the final week or two of the season.
• Left-hander Donnie Veal was shaping up as a Pittsburgh-ready starter until he had Tommy John surgery in early June.
• Infielders Brian Friday (ankle) and Brock Holt (knee) were hurt in separate collisions. Friday is back, but Holt is out for the year after surgery.
• Third baseman Jeremy Farrell has been out nearly two months because of a badly bruised knee that has built up fluid.
All had been among the system's top performers before getting hurt, and that included a surging Hernandez, who finally was beginning to meet the expectations that accompanied him as part of the Nate McLouth trade: A .291 June and .325 July had raised his season numbers to .266 with two home runs, 26 RBIs and 17 steals in 20 attempts.
And that is to say nothing of various pitching ailments to have slowed or shut down top prospect Bryan Morris, as well as Victor Black, Hunter Strickland, Colton Cain, Quinton Miller, Brett Lorin, Jeff Inman and Ramon Aguero.
The Pirates will be able to deploy many of these players in the Florida Instructional League this fall, while those with longer recoveries could look at winter ball.
"Injuries have certainly impacted the progress of many prospects this summer," Stark said. "Ultimately, that impacts their timetable, but we try not to get bogged down by specific timeframes and expectations. We recognize that these guys are humans and the game -- not to mention life -- creates uncertainty. All we can do is get guys healthy and get them back playing. This may cause a more aggressive move down the road, but our core philosophies and guidelines will still steer our decisions."
Reliever D.J. Carrasco met with Neal Huntington, the Pirates' general manager, last week in Pittsburgh to express his openness to being traded to a contender. But Carrasco neither demanded a trade in the meeting nor said he would prefer one.
"It's just something that I'm open to, playing for a contender," Carrasco said Wednesday.
Huntington declined comment on the matter.
Several teams are known to have inquired about Carrasco, Octavio Dotel and Javier Lopez, the most experienced of the bullpen. Teams have asked about Evan Meek and Joel Hanrahan, too, but anything involving either of those two is highly unlikely.
There also continues to be a hot market for starting pitching, and Paul Maholm has been part of that. But, given the hole Maholm's departure would cause in the rotation and a stated lack of urgency by the front office to move salary, a trade involving him would be a surprise at this point.
• Indianapolis second baseman Aki Iwamura, who spent most of this season with the Pirates, was hospitalized and diagnosed with a concussion after a baserunning collision Wednesday. He ran into an infielder covering first base in the first inning of the team's 7-5 victory in Syracuse, N.Y. A CT scan and other tests came back negative, Stark said, but Iwamura will be reevaluated later in the week.
• Manager John Russell, on shortstop Ronny Cedeno's .373 July after being benched much of June: "I think he's somewhat turned the corner, I hope, in how he goes about it. He's a really emotional player. He wants to succeed so badly that his emotions sometimes get the best of him. I think he's starting to balance it. He's got a lot of talent, so, when he's like that, he's going to play very well."
• The Pirates promoted reliever Derek Hankins, 27, to Indianapolis after he had a 1.82 ERA in 26 appearances for Altoona. Brian Bass, who spent a week with the Pirates earlier this season, was sent from Indianapolis to Altoona.
• The Pirates announced they will cover all service fees for tickets that are purchased during for the upcoming seven-game homestand Aug. 2-8. Tickets bought in that time can be for any game, not just the homestand.
First Published July 29, 2010 12:00 am