08/25/12 7:35 PM ET
After injury scare, McCutchen back in lineup
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
Southpaw Takahashi provides 'pen with versatility
PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates' newest relief pitcher was expected to appear at PNC Park at just about first-pitch time for Saturday's game against the Brewers, but Hisanori Takahashi's first game appearance won't happen before Sunday.Takahashi, claimed on waivers from the Angels on Friday, may have had a uniform waiting for him. But he did not have room on the roster: The Bucs will have to clear space on both the 40-man and 25-man lists prior to activating him for Sunday's series finale with Milwaukee. After a brief run with Doug Slaten, and cameos by Jeff Locke and Justin Wilson, manager Clint Hurdle looked forward to having a second, versatile left-hander at Tony Watson's side. Takahashi, a Japanese veteran who was a 35-year-old Major League rookie as a starter for the Mets in 2010, has a varied enough repertoire to fill a variety of bullpen roles. "He's a four-pitch guy. It makes him able to go through a lineup, not just a left-on-left guy," Hurdle said. "He's another of those guys who don't become available when they're pitching well. It's a good fit for us and for him." Takahashi was recently optioned to Triple-A after he'd pitched to a 4.93 ERA in 42 outings with the Angels. The control specialist had a 4-3 record, seven holds and two saves along with a 3.44 ERA in 61 appearances last season. Hurdle ran down some reasons this was a good get for the Bucs: "The experience factor. The skill-set. He gives us another weapon."
One big reason the Pirates had lost five of six going into Saturday night's game: In those six games, they struck out a total of 75 times, while hitting only five home runs; not a very good tradeoff. The Bucs continue to aim higher than a breakthrough .500 record. Or even a Wild Card playoff spot. Manager Clint Hurdle: "We haven't lowered the bar. We haven't backed off our intent to win the division." Still, for .500 watchers, to break through, the Bucs had to go 15-22 in their last 37 games -- and had gone 18-19 in their last 37, prior to Saturday night. Starling Marte (right-oblique strain) played catch for the first time Friday, but "he's not going to be running the bases all of a sudden. He'll do things incrementally. But he is starting to move around more," Hurdle said.
The Last Word
"I don't think I've ever met a more intelligent, mentally-tough, balanced young man in my life. I've had some conversations with him in the past month that have been awesome. Interesting. I don't know what it's like to go on the field and have people screaming 'M-V-P!' for you. I know what it's like to go on the field and have people screaming at you."
--Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, on Andrew McCutchen.
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.