05/07/2002 2:40 pm ET
Littlefield weekly Q & A
By Ed Eagle / MLB.com
After providing us with his insights throughout the Hot Stove months, Pirates general manager Dave Littlefield has graciously agreed to continue to meet with MLB.com each week to discuss his club.
MLB.com: What is the latest news on Josias Manzanillo's elbow injury?
Dave Littlefield: Manzanillo will have arthroscopic surgery Tuesday at 8:30 at Allegheny General Hospital with Dr. Patrick DeMeo to remove a couple of bone chips.
The bone chips were identified as the problem through an X-ray. But until somebody goes into the elbow to see exactly what is happening and what's in there, that is basically the plan as of now.
MLB.com: Do you have any idea of when and how this injury occurred?
Littlefield: No. I really don't know other than the fact that he had been pitching in Nashville, feeling fine and hadn't had problems. I really don't know how it happened. Part of it is that this is a guy who has pitched a lot of innings in his life, and, over time, it is almost inevitable for pitchers to have problems. It's just unfortunate that it happened when it did with Manzy.
MLB.com: Kris Benson has a start with Altoona Tuesday night. What are your plans for him after this start?
Littlefield: We talked about him needing at least three starts after his minor [forearm] setback. He'll be making his third start Tuesday, so we'll re-evaluate things after that and see where things are at. I anticipate that, if things go well, we will see him in Pittsburgh very soon after that.
MLB.com: If there are no setbacks, will this be his last minor league start?
Littlefield: Yes, I would anticipate that.
MLB.com: The team has had trouble scoring runs this season and you have mentioned here in the past that trades could be an avenue for addressing some of the roster issues that you will face with the returns of Manzanillo, Benson and (outfielder) Chad Hermansen. Even with Manzanillo out, is trading some of your depth in the bullpen for another bat an avenue that you are currently considering to improve the offense?
Littlefield: There are a lot of things that we are looking to do. As we have talked in the past, we are still looking to get better in a lot of ways.
We feel good about the way our bullpen has pitched, for the most part, this season. We are very pleased in general with how the pitching has been, although recently we haven't been pitching quite as well, particularly in the starting pitching, as we did early in the season.
We are going to continue to analyze things and try to get better. Even though we feel good about where we are at, there is a lot of work that we still have to do to improve this ball club. We will look at really anything that we think makes us better, obviously keeping in mind both the short term and the long term.
MLB.com: You have shown the desire to stock the organization's pitching in your trades thus far. Are you getting to the point now where you think you need to pick up a bat or two as well?
Want to hear the Pirates' GM answer Ed Eagle's question's live? Be sure to tune in to The Dave Littlefield Show before Sunday's game against the Houston Astros on the Pirates Radio Network when Ed will once again be serving as a guest co-host with Pirates play-by-play announcer Greg Brown.
Littlefield: I think, watching us play, there is no doubt that we have not been swinging the bats very well. We would like to score more runs and get more production out of the lineup. But a couple of things to keep in mind are that we are sitting here at 16-14 and we've had Brian Giles out for basically a week and Aramis Ramirez and Pokey Reese out for almost two weeks. So, overall, I feel pretty good about where we are at, but I acknowledge that it is a difficult task to improve in every area that you would like to in the short amount of time that I have been here.
The simple answer is that I would like to have more production and would look at, and have been looking at, what may be available out there to help improve our offense. But you only want to look at doing something that makes sense for us. We are definitely checking into a lot of different things.
MLB.com: How is Hermansen progressing with his injury rehabilitation?
Littlefield: He is continuing to play on his rehab assignment in Nashville. He has had some good outings and then some other outings that haven't been as good. That's to be expected from a guy who has been out for quite awhile and is looking to get his timing down and show more consistency with the bat. He is scheduled to come off of his rehab assignment May 11 and we'll continue to evaluate those things as that time gets closer.
MLB.com: Do you believe that it will take the full rehab period before he is ready to come back?
Littlefield: You have two factors working here. The first is getting the timing down and the second is how he fits into the roster and where our roster is at that point. I think it makes sense to get him as many at-bats as he can unless there is a significant need. We'll just keep evaluating that.
MLB.com: Adrian Brown seemed to be a lock in center field coming out of Spring Training but has struggled while trying to return from the surgery that kept him out most of last season. If all goes well with Hermansen's rehab and he looks like he did in Spring Training, do you think that he has a chance to win that job?
Littlefield: There is way too much speculation to make a solid analysis on it at this time. There are too many factors. It would be difficult to answer the question without looking at the future and how it unfolds.
Obviously, Adrian hasn't got off to the start that he would like to and we would like him to. But Hermansen still hasn't established himself as a Major League player yet, either. We'll continue to look at things and try to analyze what would be best but there are no set decisions that are made now. There are just a lot of factors that are hard to predict.
MLB.com: Who have been some of the guys in the minor league system who have impressed you so far this season?
Littlefield: We have been pleased with Bronson Arroyo and how he has thrown recently. Al Reyes has thrown well for us in Triple-A as well. We've had some pretty solid performances by Tony Alvarez in Double-A and first baseman Carlos Rivera in Double-A has done some good things. I haven't seen him as much because he wasn't in big league Spring Training. The staffs at Lynchburg and Hickory have both thrown well. Jose Castillo at Lynchburg has gotten off to a good start. Those are some things, in general, that seem to be positive.
Ed Eagle covers the Pirates for MLB.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This story was not
subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.