04/20/11 6:45 PM ET
McCutchen leaves team for personal matter
By David Villavicencio / Special to MLB.com
"Andrew went home today to deal with a personal matter, and that's really all we're going to share right now," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We're respecting his privacy, and I'll let you know more when I can tell you more."
With McCutchen away, the Pirates have shifted Jose Tabata from left field over to center, and Matt Diaz will play left field. Diaz knows he cannot replace the speedy leadoff man. But the veteran outfielder believes the Pirates depth will help carry them while McCutchen is away from the team.
"You don't replace Andrew," Diaz said. "We're obviously a different lineup without him in it, but the one thing about this team is we're very solid one through 25. We feel confident in our depth, and no matter who is missing -- whether it's our superstar or the starting pitcher for the day -- we're confident that we can get it done with the 25 guys we've got in this locker room."
Diaz is a player that has typically had most of his success against left-handers, but he may be the perfect player to fill in against Nolasco. In 20 at-bats, Diaz is batting .450 with three doubles and a homer against the Marlins starter.
"In the past, it's because I've been able to play a couple of days leading up to it," Diaz said. "It seemed like there were always lefties in the rotation leading up to him. I don't know if it's Ricky or just the fact that I had a few games under my belt in a row. What I do know is he's a very good pitcher and I'm never really comfortable. When somebody showed me my career numbers against him, I didn't believe it."
His numbers against the Marlins in general are equally impressive. Diaz, who spent six years with the Braves before signing with the Bucs this year, owns a .376 average with 10 doubles, 10 homers and 28 RBIs in his career against Florida.
Diaz also loves to hit at Sun Life Stadium, where he is batting .393 with four homers and 14 RBIs. With a replacement that has had so much success against Nolasco, Hurdle is confident the Pirates will be competitive while McCutchen tends to his personal matter.
"We've played without him one game this year and we won in Wrigley," Hurdle said. "That's just the way we're going about it. We're going to put Tabata in center and Diaz in left. Diaz's numbers against Nolasco have been productive when he's played against him. That's why you have 25 guys. You need everybody to contribute. This gives some other people a chance to come in to play, and some of the guys that haven't been a part of the offense can put a foot down and show up tonight."
Snyder off to strong start with bat
MIAMI -- It's only been four games but Chris Snyder has already made a better impression than he did last season.
The Pirates catcher batted .169 in 40 games after being traded to the Pirates at the 2010 Trade Deadline. To make things worse, he battled a back injury that forced him to start this season on the disabled list.
"It was just one of those things that happens," Snyder said of his poor first impression. "You have to make adjustments, and I really wasn't doing that. Now I just kind of simplified everything."
Snyder is back, and he's used that simplified approach to hit .385 with four RBIs over his first 13 at-bats in 2011.
"I was a guy that would go up there trying to change the score with one swing, and it puts you in a bad position," Snyder said. "It puts you in bad counts quite often and your room for error is a lot greater. This year I have a different approach and I'm trying to be a little bit more gap-to-gap. We'll see where that takes me."
The 30-year-old admitted he was a bit frustrated with how his time with the Pirates started off, but he was not too worried about it because he focuses on another aspect of the game more than his offense.
"People who know the kind of player I am know that I am a defense first player," Snyder said. "My main goal is to go out there and get the best I can out of every pitcher that is standing on the mound in front of me. Whatever I can do with the bat is icing on the cake."
"Don't get me wrong, I want to hit. Everybody wants to hit .300 with 20 homers and 80 RBIs. Will I get there? I don't know. Right now I am just trying to be a good situational hitter. When there are runners out there, I'll try to drive them in."
So far, he has done just that, but he is not letting the small sample size get to his head.
"I've played in four games and had a couple of good ones," Snyder said. "It's a long season, so let's see how we're doing in late July and August when it's getting to crunch time."
Veras back in familiar setting
MIAMI -- Jose Veras thought he would be pitching at Sun Life Stadium this season, but he never thought it would be in a Pirates uniform.
The 6-foot-6 right-hander was 3-3 with a 3.75 ERA in 48 innings with the Marlins last season. Veras, who struggled early in 2010, was designated for assignment after just four appearances. But the hard-throwing Dominican returned from Triple-A New Orleans looking like a relief ace. He posted a 2.49 ERA after rejoining the club in late June, but was not brought back for the 2011 season. In January, Veras signed a Minor League deal with the Pirates and made the team out of Spring Training.
"It's baseball. You never know where you're going to be tomorrow," Veras said. "As professionals, we're used to putting on a different uniform in a new year and a new place. We just focus on being professionals and playing our best, regardless of what uniform we're wearing."
But Veras did not anticipate having to find a job this offseason. After performing so well in the second half of the season, Veras thought he would be back with the Marlins in 2011. The team even told him to take it easy in the winter, giving Veras hope that he would be offered arbitration and return for a second season in South Florida.
"They took care of me," Veras said. "They called me and asked me to rest as much as possible and to not pitch this winter. They placed me on a fatigue list so I would rest. Then when the arbitration deadline came, they gave me a call to tell me they were not going to offer me arbitration. Why? Only they know that, but I think I did my job and helped the bullpen here last year."
Veras still does not fully understand what happened between the end of last season and the day the Marlins surprised him by declining to offer him arbitration, but he holds no ill will towards the organization that gave him an opportunity last season.
"I don't know what happened," Veras said. "They showed interest in me, though. They know the job I did for them last season. They know I helped them, but in the end this is a business and I know it was nothing personal."
Several of Veras' teammates from last year's Marlins team are back with Florida in 2011, but he is not treating this series like a friendly reunion. The powerful reliever says that would be disrespectful to his new team and to the game of baseball.
"Seeing old teammates and friends is always nice, but this is a business and I respect this game," Veras said. "Part of being a professional is having respect for the game and for your team. You can go say hello, but now we are against each other. They play for them and I play for us, and out of respect for the game of baseball and the uniforms we wear, I can't do more than just say hello while we're here at the stadium. If we ran into each other someplace else, like at a mall or a barbecue at someone's house, then things would be different. But once we're at the stadium, they're the opponents."
Veras, who has been mostly good for the Bucs this season -- despite posting a 5.68 ERA -- is grateful for the new opportunity he has been given.
"Thankfully this organization thought I could help them and they gave me an opportunity to prove it," Veras said. "I've found a new home now."
The Pirates signed reliever Blaine Boyer and Brett Sinkbeil to Minor League deals. The 29-year-old Boyer appeared in five games with the Mets this season, compiling a 10.80 ERA over 6 2/3 innings before he was designated for assignment. Sinkbeil was released by the Marlins in Spring Training. He made three big league appearances in 2010, posting a 13.50 ERA over two innings.
The Pirates outrighted Garrett Olson to Triple-A Indianapolis. The left-hander appeared in four games this season, allowing one run over 4 1/3 innings.
Coming into Wednesday's game against the Marlins, the Pirates have yet to lose back-to-back games on the road this season.
Outfielder Garrett Jones has been a road warrior so far in 2011. Jones is batting .387 over his first 10 games away from PNC Park.
David Villavicencio is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.