Pirates notebook: New reliever a 'good fit'
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When Rod Barajas learned that he would no longer be the oldest player on the Pirates, he broke into a relieved smile.
"I'm so excited," he laughed.
The new title-holder will be Hisanori Takahashi, the 37-year-old left-hander the Pirates claimed off waivers Friday from the Los Angeles Angels. He will surpass Barajas, 36, who was his battery-mate with the New York Mets in 2010.
"Even though it was his rookie year, he had all the experience in Japan when he came over," Barajas said. "He knew what he was doing. He was a lot of fun to catch."
Manager Clint Hurdle said Takahashi was not scheduled to arrive until after the start of the game Saturday against the Milwaukee Brewers, so the Pirates likely will not make a corresponding move to add him to the roster until today.
"These guys don't come available when they're playing really well, but we think there's enough there with the surface ERA, with some of the numbers, we dug in deeper," Hurdle said. "It's a good fit for us, it's a good fit for him."
Takahashi struck out 41 batters and walked 10 in 42 innings for the Angels this season. In his three-year major league career, he has a 3.80 ERA and an average of eight strikeouts per nine innings.
He appeared in 53 games, 12 starts, for the Mets in 2010, when he had a 3.61 ERA in 122 innings. His changeup, Barajas said, led the way.
"What made it so good, he was able to add and subtract speed on it," Barajas said. "You see a changeup, let's just say 73 miles an hour, and then he throws you that same changeup again. You see it, you recognize it, this time it's 70 miles an hour. He's still able to add and subtract even within that same pitch."
In addition to Barajas, Pirates special assistant to the general manager Dave Jauss, who was the Mets bench coach in 2010, saw Takahashi firsthand.
Takahashi's platoon splits are almost identical in his three-year major league career, though this season left-handed batters have had an advantage on him.
"Being the fact that his changeup is his best pitch, you threw more changeups whenever you faced a righty," Barajas said. "With a lefty, it somewhat nullifies the changeup, you don't use it as much."
Hurdle said Friday that the acquisition of Takahashi will not change the plan for Justin Wilson, the Class AAA Indianapolis left-hander who is in the process of converting to relief work.
For Barajas, the celebration will be short-lived: He turns 37 Sept. 5.
Though Andrew McCutchen has "declined" in the second half for the second consecutive season, Hurdle said his recent stretch fails to compare with the second half of 2011.
McCutchen is still reaching base at a similar rate as in the first half, but his batting average dropped from .362 in the first half to .322 in the second, and his slugging percentage has fallen by more than 140 points in the second half entering Saturday's game.
"There's going to be some slide, there is a slide," Hurdle said. "Has his swing been maybe a little disconnected? Yeah. But I don't think it's from the reasons that it was last year."
First Published August 26, 2012 12:05 am