06/19/11 1:00 PM ET
Timing of Hart's return still uncertain
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
Hart, who is recovering from May 2010 right shoulder surgery, had been pitching in extended spring training games to try and rebuild his arm strength. The process, though, is not going well.
When the Pirates placed Hart on the 60-day disabled list during Spring Training, it was thought Hart would be ready to return to game action in June. Now, it's tough to decipher what the right-hander's timetable might be.
Hart last pitched with the Pirates in 2009, when he went 1-8 with a 6.92 ERA in 10 starts after being traded to Pittsburgh by the Cubs on July 30.
While Hart has hit a roadblock in his recovery, starter Ross Ohlendorf is taking steps forward in his progression back from a right shoulder strain. After throwing a number of bullpen sessions in Bradenton, Ohlendorf pitched in a simulated game on Friday without issue.
Ohlendorf, who has been on the DL since April 9, will continue pitching in Bradenton before eventually going out on a Minor League rehab assignment.
Veras searching for June consistency
CLEVELAND -- It's been an unpredictable month for reliever Jose Veras, who knows the Pirates need more consistency out of him as they look to Veras to be able to bridge the eighth-inning gap to closer Joel Hanrahan.
Veras' performances have hit one of two extremes in June. When he's been good, Veras has been dominant, allowing just one hit, striking out five and walking none in six scoreless appearances.
His other four appearances have not, however, gone so smoothly. He's combined to throw only two innings in those four games and has walked six. He's given up at least one hit and one run in each of those four games.
"Sometimes you get a little rushed and try to find a way to get it back," Veras said. "A couple struggling days, it happens to everyone. There are 162 games, so you're not going to be perfect for six months. Once in a while, you're going to have bad times. You just have to learn how to get out of it. It's not a big deal."
- 131 wins
- 121 wins
Despite not knowing whether control is going to be a factor with Veras on any given day, manager Clint Hurdle continues to rely on the right-hander late in close games. In fact, when Hurdle needed a closer to step in when Hanrahan was unavailable on Thursday, Veras was Hurdle's choice.
"I appreciate that [confidence]," Veras said. "They have patience and trust what I have. I trust what I can do, too. They know that everyone is going to go through a slump. My slump is not that bad. But I have to do better."
Huntington on lookout for offensive boost
CLEVELAND -- General manager Neal Huntington expressed a desire on Sunday to upgrade the Pirates' scuffling offense, but at the right cost. And Huntington, as manager Clint Hurdle did a day earlier, confirmed that the organization is actively looking to add offensive pieces to the club.
That's easier said than done right now, given that only four teams are currently sitting 10 games or more out of first place in their respective divisions. That hasn't allowed a trade market to fully develop yet. Clarity in the standings should come in the next few weeks, but until that time, teams that are willing to sell are going to continue asking for a hefty bounty in return.
If the Pirates are looking for internal answers, those will have to come from the Minors, not from the group of players on the disabled list. Ryan Doumit, Pedro Alvarez, Chris Snyder and Steve Pearce are all weeks away, at least, from returning from injuries.
"If somebody were a week away, you'd probably feel less compelled [to look externally], because our solution could be internal," Huntington said. "It keeps coming back to, we've got to be logical and rational. We don't want to make emotional and irrational decisions that we come to regret later. But you want to help this club. They're fighting. They're competing."
Management has said it has the flexibility to take on salary, and Huntington reiterated on Sunday that the organization is willing to deal prospects to get the right player under the right terms. That does not mean Huntington is going to use prospects as trade chips to acquire a player for a two- or three-month rental. But if there is a situation where the Pirates could add someone for multiple years, the Pirates are willing to pay the appropriate cost.
"We continue to see what's out there and what might help us and what it's going to cost us, short- and long-term," Huntington said.
Nau named Pirates MVP dad
CLEVELAND -- Bill Nau, a resident of Somerset, Pa., has been named one of 30 winners in Major League Baseball's "My Dad, My MVP" contest. A winner was chosen to represent each club, and Nau will be recognized by the Pirates during an on-field ceremony sometime this month.
Nau's son was one of more than 3,200 people to submit an entry about their dad in the contest. A panel of celebrity judges and fan votes determined each club's winner. In addition to being recognized on the field, each winner receives special MLB merchandise and two tickets to a game.
The son's essay about his dad read as follows:
"I am nominating my father for the MVP Dad because of his dedication to improving life of anyone he comes into contact with. He improves the quality of life for children all over the area in which he lives through coaching sports and other activities. My dad raised me and my sister for 18 years, until we were off to college. Once I left (the oldest child) my dad wanted to become a foster parent to help children who didn't have family, because he lived in a foster home when he was younger.
"Through being a foster parent, my dad adopted what is now my little brother (5 years old), then later decided to adopt a severe MR child who he had worked with at a Disability Center for children. Within one year of the adoption, the MR child died at age 12 due to complications he had in his life. My dad still continues to influence children even through heartache and rejection. My dad deserves MVP!"
All submitted stories can be found by going to MLB.com/mvpdad.
After using Garrett Jones as the team's designated hitter in the first two games of the series, manager Clint Hurdle went with Andrew McCutchen as his choice to DH on Sunday. Hurdle also moved McCutchen up to the leadoff spot for the first time since May 24. McCutchen entered the day hitting .261 in 34 games as a leadoff hitter this season.
Left fielder Jose Tabata was given the day off on Sunday. It was just the second off-day Tabata has had since May 13.
As a part of Major League Baseball's initiative to raise prostate cancer awareness on Father's Day, Pirates players and staff wore blue wristbands and blue ribbon uniform decals on Sunday. The official lineup card for Sunday's game was also blue.
With another four hits in a doubleheader on Saturday, Alex Presley now has 254 hits since the beginning of the 2010 season. In addition to leading the International League in hits this season, Presley ranks fourth in all of Minor League baseball in total hits since the start of 2010. The Pirates' decision to not yet add Presley to the big league bench is due to not wanting to leave Hurdle with only one backup infielder, general manager Neal Huntington confirmed on Sunday.
Left-hander Donnie Veal has been promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis, where Veal will continue to regain his command after missing a year from Tommy John surgery. Huntington said the organization has not yet determined whether Veal's long-term role will be as a starter or reliever.
Huntington confirmed that the Pirates have talked about whether it's worth pursuing recently released lefty Scott Kazmir, though the Pittsburgh GM wouldn't go into much more detail than that. "You always look at a guy who has been a first-round pick and think that maybe you can replenish the magic and push the right button," Huntington said. "While I can't sit here and tell you we have engaged in deep conversations, we've looked at it, we've considered it and we'll continue to do so."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.