08/31/12 8:26 PM ET
Bucs add Presley, McPherson for stretch run
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
Hurdle gives McCutchen day off vs. Brewers
MILWAUKEE -- Some red flags popped up when the Pirates posted Friday night's starting lineup and Andrew McCutchen's name wasn't on it. After all, McCutchen is hitting Brewers pitching at a .500 rate, and had also homered in his last four games in Miller Park.However, there is nothing wrong with the All-Star center fielder. Recent track record be darned, manager Clint Hurdle wanted to take advantage of Thursday's off-day to give McCutchen a "48-hour blow." "If you've watched the last few games, he's really laid it all out there," Hurdle said. "We talked about it, and he said he's good to go, that everybody is tired at this time. "I understand that, too. But being able to piggy-back on the off-day, it was a good day to give him added rest for what's in front of us." Alex Presley, fresh back from Indianapolis, started in center Friday and batted leadoff, pushing Jose Tabata down into the two-hole. McCutchen last missed a start on July 29, when he did come off the bench as a pinch-hitter in that game in Houston. Prior to that, he had sat out the July 1 game in St. Louis. All told, including an early-season bout with a stomach virus, McCutchen has missed five starts. The Pirates were 0-5 in those games.
A couple of injured players are on different comeback tracks. Starling Marte (DL, strained right oblique) increased his baseball activity Friday, including swings against live pitching. But Neil Walker (lower-back tightness) is still limited to getting treatment. The Bucs pulled into Milwaukee with a chance to toss a third consecutive shutout for the first time since the final three games of the 1976 season (over the Cardinals). Right-hander Rick VandenHurk has been named MVP of Triple-A Indianapolis, yet another hurler, lefty Jeff Locke, was chosen as the team's pitcher of the year. Also, Tim Wood was named reliever of the year, infielder Anderson Hernandez was selected defensive player of the year and outfielder Brandon Boggs was picked offensive player of the year. Joel Hanrahan continues to lead the NL with his 34 saves, remarkable in that he has had one save opportunity since Aug. 8. Putting to rest the argument that closers tend to be ineffective without save on the line, Hanrahan has had six straight scoreless outings in non-save situations.
Saturday's game, a 7:05 p.m. ET start against the Brewers, will be the first of three Pirates broadcasts carried on KDKA-AM radio to avoid conflicts with Pitt football; the other games will be on Sept. 15 and Sept. 22.
The Last Word
"Yeah, I've got tickets with Jimmy (Trdinich) to see him on Oct. 16 at the Consol Center. I don't know -- I might be busy elsewhere."
-- Pirates boss Clint Hurdle, on his long-made plans to see The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, while MLB's 2012 postseason is in full swing. (Ed note: Hurdle could still make it; Oct. 16 will be an off-day between Games 2-3 of the NL Championship Series.)
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.