Pirates Notebook: Leadoff man somehow rolls on
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NEW YORK -- Digging for a bright spot in these darkest of days for the Pirates?
Look right atop the lineup.
Through all this misery, offensively and otherwise, Nyjer Morgan is batting .301 and doing so with terrific consistency: He has at least one hit in all but seven of his team-high 30 starts, has reached base safely in all but five and, perhaps most impressive, has led off 15 of the Pirates' 31 games with a hit or walk.
That included yesterday, when he singled and scored in the first, drew two walks and put down a sacrifice bunt in the 8-4 loss to the New York Mets.
"He's doing really well," manager John Russell said. "Swinging the bat and playing good defense, too."
Morgan's average ranks fifth among all leadoff hitters in Major League Baseball, as does his .376 on-base percentage.
How has he held up while so many others have sagged?
"I think it's just about me staying positive," Morgan said. "Just have fun playing the game. I mean, yeah, some things are frustrating. But I'm just not letting it creep into my head."
Second baseman Freddy Sanchez was given his second day off in four days, but all concerned were adamant his right shoulder -- which he aggravated by diving on it Tuesday in Pittsburgh -- was no issue.
"It's beyond 100 percent," Sanchez said.
Delwyn Young took his place again.
"It's a long year," Russell said. "We just want to maintain Freddy's strength."
Sanchez, who has been given three days off this season while batting .317, has a vesting clause in his contract that requires the Pirates to pick up his $8.5 million option for 2010 if he makes 635 plate appearances, or 600 plate appearances plus an All-Star berth.
• Shortstop Jack Wilson (sprained finger) did not play for Class AAA Indianapolis yesterday in Syracuse, N.Y., cutting short his rehabilitation stint because of cold weather there. He returned to Pittsburgh, will work out at PNC Park today and get activated tomorrow.
• Brian Bixler, certain to be sent back to Indianapolis when Wilson returns, fared abysmally in this stint: At the plate, he batted .200 with a gawdy 15 strikeouts in 22 at-bats, including all three at-bats yesterday. He also committed two errors, including one yesterday that led to a New York run.
• Closer Matt Capps (bruised elbow bone) had a pain-free 35-pitch bullpen session and has been cleared to return tomorrow.
• Robinzon Diaz's three-hit performance raised the combined average of him and the other catcher, Jason Jaramillo, to .313 since Ryan Doumit went on the disabled list.
• The Mets have won seven in a row. They had trouble last year with sub-.500 teams down the stretch but apparently took this challenge seriously. "The last couple of years, we learned about that, not to give it up when we play those kinds of teams," shortstop Jose Reyes said. "This is baseball. You never know what's going to happen."
First Published May 11, 2009 12:00 am