Pirates Notebook: Lengthy HR dry spell is broken
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ATLANTA -- That was quite the dry spell.
The last time the Pirates cracked a home run?
"Since Nate [McLouth] got traded?" drought-breaker Delwyn Young wondered afterward yesterday. "Did he hit it?"
"I know," manager John Russell said softly. "Since [Jason] Jaramillo hit one against [the New York Mets' Johan] Santana."
We have a winner: At no time between Jaramillo's fifth-inning blast June 2 and Young's fifth-inning shot yesterday against Atlanta's Javier Vazquez had the Pirates mustered a homer.
That was a span of seven games and halves of two others -- 75 innings, 323 plate appearances.
And it arrived at long last from a relatively parched source: Young had gone 48 games since he last homered, back with the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 24, 2008.
Former Dodgers teammate Brad Penny of Boston texted Andy LaRoche after the game: "Can't believe DY hit a homer."
For the record, the Pirates -- without a home run in 12 of their previous 14 games before Young delivered yesterday -- are 17-9 when somebody bangs one and 11-23 when not.
Thirteen of the Pirates' final 20 selections of the three-day draft were collegians, leaving management to begin negotiating with prospects they aim to sign -- many of them high school players weighing college scholarships.
"Our guys did a good job of grinding through ... the last 20 rounds," said general manager Neal Huntington, a proponent of shorter drafts. "We continued to give ourselves depth and options. Obviously, we're not going to sign everybody [among the 51 selections]. Nobody ever does. But we've given ourselves plenty of alternatives for good players.
"Overall, we feel very good about where we are. We feel confidently that we're going to look up in the middle of August, when the signing [deadline] comes, and see one of the deepest, if not the deepest, draft classes in Pirates history."
New No. 5 starter Charlie Morton did not throw yesterday, a day after he exited following a single, one-hit inning of work against his former team, the Braves.
Morton, acquired a week earlier in the McLouth trade, strained his left hamstring while warming up in the top of the first Wednesday but completed the inning.
"He should be OK," Russell said of Morton, who spent the day undergoing treatment and doing stretching exercises in the trainer's room. "He felt better today. We'll know more the next couple of days. But good signs today."
Atlanta manager Bobby Cox added to his major-league record with a 144th career ejection, following a one-out play in the ninth, where replays seemed to show Kelly Johnson should have been ruled safe in a race to first with reliever Matt Capps, but first base umpire Brian Knight ruled Johnson out. For the record, Capps said, "It was close. But I really thought I had him. I probably would've reacted a little bit if they would've called him safe. That situation, emotions are high. He's fired up, he wants the call, Bobby Cox wants the call."
Two nights before, at the other end of the spectrum, the Pirates' first base and infield coach Perry Hill experienced the first ejection of his 16-season coaching career in the major leagues.
And he still isn't sure what he said or did to deserve it.
"I didn't say anything," Hill recalled. "I never cussed and I never said the word 'you.' "
Hill said he started to ask the first base umpire that night, Doug Eddings, about the call when Eddings responded, "I only talk to the manager."
The easy-going Hill said he thought that was a ridiculous response, but "with my demeanor, it's easy to see why I got thrown out."
First Published June 12, 2009 12:19 am