06/24/10 1:45 PM ET
Jones' hit streak snapped at 12 games
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
Jones had extended the streak with two hits in four at-bats on Tuesday and headed into Wednesday's game hitting .422 with 10 RBIs during that span. The streak was also the longest active one in the National League until the Rangers stymied Jones' success in the second game of a three-game series.
Still, there's no question Jones has been the Pirates' most consistent producer this month. And it's probably no coincidence, either, that Jones started getting hot at the same time the Pirates solidified the top of their lineup by putting Jose Tabata, Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen just ahead of him in the order.
"I'm just trying not to do too much," Jones said. "I'm just really taking a line-drive approach [to] stay up the middle and not try to pull off the ball. I'm just feeling confident with myself right now."
Jones' overall numbers would look much better if it hadn't been for his slow start. After batting just .207 in April, Jones has hit .329 and driven in 23 in his past 38 games. His 45 RBIs and 10 home runs are both tops on the club, and his .353 June average heading into Wednesday ranked 10th best in the National League.
Duke placed on DL with elbow strain
ARLINGTON -- Left-hander Zach Duke was unable to throw his scheduled side session on Wednesday, forcing the Pirates to place Duke on the 15-day disabled list with a left elbow flexor pronator strain.
Duke's DL stint is retroactive to June 17, the day after he made his most recent start.
"We just want to make sure to stop it now so it doesn't become something that lingers for the rest of the season," said Duke, who had a similar injury cost him two-and-a-half months in 2007. "[I want to] make sure we get it right and take it slow."
Duke would be eligible to return on July 1, but general manager Neal Huntington said he expects Duke to miss two more starts before rejoining the rotation. Duke already had his start skipped on Tuesday. Having to miss just two more outings is, of course, the best-case scenario.
An MRI confirmed that Duke's injury is solely muscle-related, as the exam found no indication of ligament damage. Duke described it as a collective decision not to have him return to the mound on Wednesday to test out his elbow.
"I'm feeling better," he said. "It's showing improvement. It's a little slow, but I just want to make sure it's right before I start it up again."
Huntington said the organization is walking through the options of finding a replacement for Duke's scheduled start on Saturday. Prior to Wednesday's game, Huntington listed Charlie Morton, Dana Eveland, Daniel McCutchen and Brian Burres all as candidates. Eveland can be crossed off that list now, though, after being used in a 58-pitch relief outing on Wednesday.
Not only was Eveland largely ineffective in the appearance, but the workload was too much for the Pirates to be comfortable calling him back out on two days' rest.
Though Duke said he didn't feel any discomfort in his pitching elbow until midway through his June 16 start, the Pirates are hopeful that a few weeks off will be what he needs to get back on track. After winning his first two starts, Duke has just one win. He has a 5.49 ERA in 14 starts, and opponents have batted .332 against him.
"Obviously, that wasn't Zach," manager John Russell said. "When Zach's on, he's a different guy. When we get this out of there and get him back to full strength, I think we're going to see what we're supposed to see."
Prospect Sanchez set for jaw surgery
ARLINGTON -- Catching prospect Tony Sanchez will undergo surgery on Thursday after specialists identified a couple of small fractures in his jaw. Sanchez sustained the injury when he was hit in the face by a pitch on Tuesday.
General manager Neal Huntington said he had not received enough information to feel comfortable speculating how much time Sanchez is likely to miss. However, Huntington did say: "He's going to be out a while."
The Pirates took Sanchez with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, and with the recent promotion of three Pittsburgh prospects, Sanchez is now widely regarded as the organization's top position player prospect. He was hitting .314 with 17 doubles, four homers and 35 RBIs in 59 games with Class A Bradenton before the injury.
Sanchez had already missed about a week in June after being hit in the head by a pitch.
"I hope this doesn't set him back too long," manager John Russell said. "He had everything that I was looking forward to seeing. He's going to be a very good catcher. He has all the attributes. You can tell the energy level is good."
This injury will keep Sanchez from participating in Major League Baseball's All-Star Futures Game in July. Rosters for the contest were announced on Tuesday, and Sanchez was one of two catchers selected for the U.S. squad.
While it's still unknown whether Sanchez will be able to return this season, if he does, it's unlikely that he will see time playing in Double-A before 2011. Prior to this injury, the Pirates had been hopeful that the 22-year-old would finish the year with Double-A Altoona.
The Pirates have released right-hander Jimmy Barthmaier, who recently joined Double-A Altoona after working his way back from Tommy John surgery. Barthmaier had the surgery last May but was re-signed by the organization as a Minor League free agent this winter. He had allowed four earned runs on six hits and five walks in three relief innings for Altoona this year. ... Taking Barthmaier's place on the Double-A roster was right-hander Diego Moreno, who missed 22 games with a right rotator cuff strain. ... First baseman Steve Pearce, who remains in Triple-A rehabbing from a right ankle sprain, played third base for Indianapolis on Wednesday. Pearce had not played the position since being drafted by Pittsburgh in 2005. General manager Neal Huntington said not to read anything into Pearce's rare start at the hot corner. The Pirates have no plans to play him there regularly.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.