Once again Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Neal Huntington met with reporters prior to Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Reds to discuss his team’s struggles and answer questions regarding the remainder of the season. Below is an edited transcript.
On Josh Harrison: “This is not going to be day-to-day. We’ll have to see how he responds in 24-48 hours and determine what other diagnostics need to be explored if he is not feeling better.”
Neftali Feliz/A.J. Schugel progress: “They’re making progress and feeling better. They are working through the flat-ground program, and the next step would be to get them off of a mound and from there getting them back in games. It’s probably taking a little longer than they hoped and what we hoped at this point. In the year we need to put them in the position to be successful. We anticipate them being back this season. Hopefully sooner rather than later.”
Starling Marte’s still day to day: “It’s still cranky and not allowing him to take the next steps. He wants to be out there, but his body is not cooperating with him. It’s taken some time to work through the pain. His pain has caught him before we got to full swings some days and it’s going to take time.”
Is returning Chad Kuhl and Jameson Taillon to the rotation going to make things normal again: “Normal is a tough term for September. We’re going to continue to mix and match this rotation. We’ll skip some guys here and give guys extra days rest there and keep them on turn. We’ve got an interesting dynamic going on. We do anticipate Chad and Jameson will be back in the rotation, and we’ll continue to monitor them as we move forward.”
Managing winning games and the long term: “Everybody in that clubhouse wants to win every game we play. How do we put ourselves in position to win as many of the 162 games in a season? A day of rest in April may be crucial. When you’re fighting for a playoff spot in Sept., it’s hard to take a player out of the lineup. We’re all in this thing with a bigger picture in mind.”
Concerning the National League Wild Card race: “It’s clearly why we’re a couple of games under .500. We’ve talked for weeks how the team that goes 8-2 is going to separate itself and unfortunately we’ve got a team that’s 2-8. You can go six weeks back and these teams have been clustered around .500 for 30 games, for 20 and 10. Unfortunately, we’re the team that had the tough stretch and some other teams have had good stretches and put distance between themselves. If we can flip a switch and change it, we would but every time it seems like we’re falling in the wrong direction we seem to right ourselves. When we’re right, we seem to find a misstep. We’ve got the streakiest team in baseball this year, and our goal is to spend some time figuring out how to be consistent.”
On Andrew McCutchen: “He saw positive signs in Aug. and another strong offensive month, but the month of April was such a struggle for him that it was hard to recognize he was having a good month. You still see the bat speed and explosiveness. There’s been more life and athleticism in the second half of the season. It’s hard for any player to walk out there and see the numbers on the boards every night and they are lower than you expect, especially for a player of his caliber. There’s no question he put more pressure on himself to try to do more and get his numbers back quickly. He’s a great player and a great person but he’s human.”