Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Neal Huntington always meets with the media on Sunday home games to delve into a series of topics. Not surprisingly, the two roster moves fresh in the mind were the central topics of today’s session.
Huntington broke each move down to better explain the reasoning, starting with the Steve Lombardozzi call-up, which resulted in pitcher Chris Volstad being designated for assignment.
“The first move was to re-balance the 12 pitchers and 13 position players,” Huntington said. “Given the short starts and the use of our bullpen we had gone to 13 pitchers and 12 position players. It was naturally going to happen at some point in time. We decided to make that move to re-balance it today.”
Gorkys Hernandez was the second player to be called up after Jose Tabata was designated for assignment.
“Gorkys Hernandez is a quality defender and can play all three outfield positions,” said Huntington. “He has speed off the bench and can steal a base but need be. The staff had talked about the job since Spring Training and they said he has carried over a lot of the adjustments that allowed him to have the good spring. Quite honestly we wanted to take a look and see what he would bring in comparison to Jose.”
Volstad has the option to refuse an assignment to Triple-A Indianapolis if he is not claimed by another team.
Just missing the cut for a call-up was Jaff Decker. Decker was in considering for the final roster spot in Spring Training before an injury sidelined him. Decker spent some time with the Pirates major league club last season and is batting .306 with three home runs and 18 RBI with the Indians.
“Decker was in the discussion and as we talked about the left-handed bat we’d like to add when [Andrew] Lambo is on the DL,” Huntington said. “We called up Lombardozzi and then we needed to re-balance the pitchers again and that’s when Lombardozzi went out. As a GM you try to provide your manager with different options to win a game and the left and right option that Lombardozzi provided and the fact that he had been up here earlier and did a nice job for us in a short look probably gave him the inside edge. Decker has done some things in the batter’s box that put him right in the middle of that conversation.”
On the major league injury front, Corey Hart’s shoulder is improving although not to the point yet that he will go out on a rehab assignment. Rob Scahill tried to pitch through elbow and forearm pain but felt it grab on him and both sides decided it was best to get some down time. Andrew Lambo is not 100 percent and is frustrated. Realistically he was moved to the 60-day disabled list because the team felt he would not fully recover in that time period.
Jameson Taillon will receive a second opinion on his injury and Huntington is working through the details of what that may entail.
Finally, Andrew McCutchen’s frequency of being hit by a pitch and being pitched inside was discussed.
“Anytime a hitter gets hit by a pitch there’s a risk for injury,” said Huntington. “Anytime Andrew gets hit by a pitch there is a collective holding of our breath, not only in the GM’s box and the dugout but I’m sure the press box and all around Pittsburgh. It’s no different than when any team’s superstar gets hit. It’s a challenge… you don’t like to see anybody get hit and it’s rare that a hitter gets hit on purpose.”
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