Pirates Notebook: It's time to re-evaluate offense
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Entering the game Saturday night, the Pirates were three games out of first place in the National League Central and one game over .500.
They got there despite the absence of two catchers and two third basemen.
"We've stayed focused on what we do have, not what we don't have," manager Clint Hurdle said.
The team has succeeded in spite of its lineup, which has struggled to drive in runs, so Hurdle said the Pirates began to re-evaluate the offense in an attempt to improve it. The Pirates' 3.76 runs per game rank 14th in the National League, their .241 batting average 12th.
Part of the reshuffling began Friday, when the team called up Chase d'Arnaud. He played third base and batted second Friday and Saturday. Andrew McCutchen moved to the cleanup spot Saturday, bumping Neil Walker to fifth. Garrett Jones hit third.
"More consistency, strengthening the lineup from the top, one to eight," Hurdle said of what he would like to see from the offense. "I think we've got people in play that can obviously make individual improvements to do that."
The Pirates' .245 average with runners in scoring position, tied for 18th in the majors, needs to improve, Hurdle said.
"We still make a lot of outs dead pull," he said. "We've got to use the big part of the field.
"RBI men use the big part of the ballpark. You're better served doing that. We still have a lot of situations with runners in scoring position where right-handed hitters are hooking the ball to third. Left-handed hitters are hooking the ball.
"They're not trying to, but they do it. There comes a point in time where that becomes a part of your evaluation process."
Adding d'Arnaud illustrated the way the Pirates have to adjust their lineup.
Hurdle has said the team looked externally for offensive help, but other teams opted not to deal.
"I think we're in a market where you need to do that," he said.
"You bring players up, you look at them, if you feel there's something better, based on time and performance in the minor leagues."
Pedro Alvarez was scheduled to resume playing games in Bradenton, Fla., Friday, but had a setback related to his neck, Hurdle said.
Alvarez, the Pirates' opening-day third basemen, went on the 15-day disabled list May 21 because of a strained right quadriceps.
"I think he's gearing up, getting ready to start playing again," Hurdle said.
"He'll get here when he gets here. I'm not going to set a date."
The Pirates designated catcher Dusty Brown for assignment and brought up Eric Fryer from Class AAA Indianapolis.
Fryer started the season in Class AA Altoona and joined Indianapolis on May 30. He hit .262 with 2 home runs and 9 RBIs in 21 games at Indianapolis.
Reliever Joe Beimel will head to Bradenton Monday to continue his rehab from left elbow soreness, he said.
He threw a bullpen session Saturday that featured all his pitches and said he felt good.
"I'm pretty happy right now," Beimel said. "No pain, the ball was coming out of my hand well. The pitches were crisp."
Beimel will pitch another bullpen session Tuesday in Bradenton, then switch to games.
He eventually will move to Altoona to pitch, so he can commute from here on days he throws.
First Published June 26, 2011 12:52 am