Pirates Notebook: Mientkiewicz says former club has a plan
Dodgers first baseman and former Pirate Doug Mientkiewicz on his old team, "They have a plan. They're sticking to it. Let's see if it works."
Share with others:
LOS ANGELES -- Still so new to the home clubhouse that he was being fitted for company-issue blue sweats, Doug Mientkiewicz paused last night to talk about his former employers: the Pirates. And he talked about them from his Dodger Stadium locker underneath a photograph of his celebrated run-in with Randy Johnson last year.
Mientkiewicz watched from afar yet another summer with a revolving Pirates clubhouse door, something he witnessed to a degree a year earlier, and he empathized with the club's followers.
"From a fan's standpoint ... it's got to be tough," he said. "You think it's almost over, and, all of a sudden they keep getting rid of guys. You know what? They have a plan. They're sticking to it. Let's see if it works. Things like that need time. I'm sure the fans are tired of hearing [that]."
Of their seven trades engineered since June, involving five opening-day Pirates position starters, the one that surprised him was Nate McLouth leaving for Atlanta the first week of June.
"That being said, when Nate [initially balked at a] move to left or right field, I pretty much felt, as a baseball fan, that the handwriting was on the wall," he said. "Once Andrew [McCutchen] was ready, you got to play him."
Mientkiewicz, brought in a year ago as much for his on-field utility as his off-field usefulness, said he was all set to rejoin the Pirates until "at the last second, things kind of fell through. That's when [Dodgers manager] Joe [Torre] called and said, 'Where are you?' I said, 'In Bradenton on a couch waiting to go to spring training.' I was in Bradenton when I left for Arizona.
"I had my heart on going back there. I felt obviously an attachment to the city, to the people there, to the front office, to the core guys that were there. I still watch the games, I still watch Ryan [Doumit], I still watch Nate ... whatever uniform they have on. Last year, it didn't work out record-wise. But I felt like we were moving in the right direction. I hope for the fans' sake that franchise gets back to where it should be."
Mientkiewicz, on the disabled list since April 17 with a dislocated right shoulder, has played in six games since the start of September, all in a pinch-hitting role because throwing remains difficult for him.
Delwyn Young didn't start for the fourth time in the past six games, but his scratch yesterday was a direct result of back spasms that afflicted him Sunday before the game in Houston. In a ninth-inning, pinch-hit at-bat, he ran out a groundout, and "the closer I got to first, the worse it became. It took a lot to get off the field." He felt better last night, when he was again available for pinch-hitting.
A former Dodgers player, having made 110 appearances over three seasons with his hometown franchise before playing 111 this season with the Pirates entering last night, Young put aside 25 tickets for family and friends here while also garnering considerable media attention.
• The rotation remains at five men for the week: Zach Duke today, Kevin Hart tomorrow, Charlie Morton Friday and Ross Ohlendorf, perhaps in his final start of the season, Saturday followed by Paul Maholm and the starter last night, Daniel McCutchen.
• Jose Ascanio threw again yesterday and, so manager John Russell hopes, he can pitch in relief by the end of the next homestand.
First Published September 15, 2009 12:00 am