05/31/12 12:48 AM ET
Morton confident better results on horizon
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
Bucs' rich '08 Draft haul on full display in finale
PITTSBURGH -- A week before the 2012 First-Year Player Draft would be wrapping up, the Pirates' Wednesday night lineup against the Reds could have been considered a reminder of the importance of that annual disbursement of amateur players.The 2008 Draft was well represented in the Bucs' starting lineup against the Reds. Around the horn, you had third baseman Pedro Alvarez (the first-round pick and overall No. 2 choice that June), shortstop Jordy Mercer (third round) and first baseman Matt Hague (ninth round). The guy in between was 2004 first-round pick Neil Walker, at second. Andrew McCutchen, the club's first-round pick the year after Walker, patrolled center field. The newcomer, obviously, was Mercer, who made his first Major League start the night after debuting in the almost-obligatory pinch-hitting role. After bouncing out to short in the eighth inning of Tuesday's 8-1 loss, Mercer promptly recorded his first big league hit in the first inning of Wednesday's 2-1 win over the Reds. He followed that up by making a nice play in the field on a line drive that had changed course after being deflected off the ankle of starter A.J. Burnett. "You almost have to get that first at-bat out of the way, so they can process the adrenaline," said manager Clint Hurdle, who made it a point to get Mercer on the field before the club wrapped up its homestand. "I'm looking ahead to seeing him out there." Josh Harrison, 0-for-10 since the end of his 10-game hitting streak, and regular shortstop Clint Barmes, on an extended timeout to work on his bat stroke, both sat out Wednesday. That marked the season's first game without one or the other as the starting shortstop.
Pirates baseball: They scored seven runs in the three-game series against the Reds, the 2.3 average even below their low season average -- and won two of the games. The Reds had hit town having totaled 20 homers in their previous nine games. No balls left PNC Park, as Cincinnati went three consecutive games without a home run for the first time since May 9-12. However, those three games were against two different teams; the last club to contain the Reds through a three-game series was Washington, on April 12-15. Off on Thursday, the Pirates finished May with a record of 15-13, their first winning record in the month since the identical set in 2008.
"One of the things A.J. looked forward to was coming here to be the guy. There are places you can't go to and be the guy because they already have guys."
--Pirates manager Clint Hurdle on A.J. Burnett, who was attracted to Pittsburgh by the opportunity to both pitch and lead.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.