04/05/2013 11:32 PM ET
Snider starts in right as Hurdle changes tact
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
LOS ANGELES -- The man who had the Pirates' right-field job to lose finally got a work shift on Friday night.
Travis Snider got his first start of the young season, in the opener of a three-game series against the Dodgers. Snider didn't get the gig because of his past success against Zack Greinke: He entered the game hitless in six career at-bats against the new Los Angeles righty. But manager Clint Hurdle was done playing the hot hands of Spring Training -- and seeing them cool off. It was a good time to return to Plan A.
"I wanted to break out with the guys who were swinging the best," Hurdle said. "And you saw what happened."
Gaby Sanchez, on the heels of hitting .302 with 11 RBIs in the Grapefruit League, started at first base in the first three games of the season, pushing Friday first baseman Garrett Jones to right field and pinch-hit duty, and Snider to the bench. But the Bucs collected a total of 13 hits in the opening three-game series against the Cubs, with Sanchez going 1-for-10.
"Travis made very good strides in Spring Training. I gave the other guys the starts, initially, now I want to get Travis involved," Hurdle said.
Hurdle was very open with Snider while omitting him from the lineup in Chicago, which the outfielder appreciated and understood.
"To understand what's happening before you walk into the locker room and see you're not in the lineup ... having that heads-up is great," Snider said. "I watched Spring Training; I saw Gaby and Garrett, the way things played out; they swung the bats real well."
Locke doing due diligence for Sunday's start
LOS ANGELES -- Jeff Locke has spent a couple of Septembers in the big leagues with the Pirates. April, however, is an entirely different jungle.
And the freshman left-hander -- no longer a rookie, missing that status by one inning -- is geared up for Sunday's start, his first as an official, confirmed, notarized member of the Bucs rotation.
"I'm ready to go, excited to go out and compete again as part of the regular 25-man roster. First road trip. Dodger Stadium," Locke said. "I just want to go out there and perform, and impress."
But, first, had had a chance to do some homework. On Friday night, Locke got to study how another left-hander, veteran Jonathan Sanchez, attacked a lineup similar to the one he will be facing.
Asked whether he could get anything out of seeing Sanchez operate, Locke said, "One-hundred percent. That's something I'm excited for, to watch Sanchez go out there. I haven't had a whole lot of opportunity to see him throw anyway."
Manager Clint Hurdle also saw the benefit of having Locke follow Sanchez.
"One of the things we took into consideration was Sanchez's familiarity with the park and many of the players," Hurdle said, referring to Sanchez's six years pitching for the Dodgers' National League West rival Giants from 2006-11. "Locke can watch the sequences, the swings, and read the hitters. There is something to pick up. I'm expecting there will be a lot of opportunity to learn watching the game tonight."
Martin seeks uplifting return to LA
LOS ANGELES -- It's tough to find a positive in not having a hit entering the fourth game of the season, but Russell Martin saw one potential bright spot in the 0-for-10 he dragged into Dodger Stadium on Friday night:
The chance, in obeying the law of averages, to claim his first hits of the season where the Pirates catcher said he "grew up, in a way."
"This place definitely has that sense of home. It's definitely cool to be back here," said Martin, who spent nine years in the Dodgers organization -- two of them as a National League All-Star catcher -- before he became a free agent following the 2010 season.
The Dodgers didn't re-sign him because they were set to replace him with Rod Barajas, but that's another story.
"It'd be absolutely nice to have a great series against the Dodgers, for sure," said Martin, mindful not of the past, but of his present .000 average. "Either way, it's going to be fun. We'll see how it goes, but I'll embrace whatever happens. It's my first time here since 2010."
It was Martin's first time in Dodger Stadium's visitors clubhouse. Before catching up with the other Bucs, he had stopped on the other side, giving his regards to the home clubhouse attendants who used to take care of him and exchanging hugs with his Double-A coach.
Onetime Dodgers catching standout Steve Yeager coached Martin at Jacksonville in 2005 and is still a catching instructor with the club.
"I'll be chatting up him and everyone else during batting practice, I'm sure," Martin said. "It's a feeling hard to explain. ... This was my home for quite a while. It's like passing through an old home."
• Andrew McCutchen talked in the spring about returning to the headfirst slide that worked for him in the past, but in Thursday's game had gone feet first in stealing both second and third in the seventh inning against the Cubs.
The steal of second was on a hit and run, although the hitter (Sanchez) did not offer at the ball.
"You don't want to go in head first on a hit and run, and never into third," explained McCutchen, who is perfect in his first four steal attempts.
• Brandon Inge was the designated hitter in Triple-A Indianapolis' season opener on Thursday night and was scheduled to play in the field in Friday night's game.
First number, last word
26: Innings without a homer played by the Pirates entering Friday night's game. It is their longest season-opening drought since 1998, when they were kept in the park the first five games of the season.
"... And when you're not in the lineup, you can fall back on a routine to get ready and go when called -- or just chew sunflower seeds and hang with the guys. As long as you're there cheering, wearing a big league uniform and hopefully watching your team take a 'W,' that's what this is all about." -- Snider, on the individual mentality needed to make up a team.
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.