Jeff Karstens makes a spot start today for Ross Ohlendorf who is out with an upper back injury.

Pirates Caffeine: Karstens Spot Start, GM Neal Huntington Show Notes

Pittsburgh Pirates General Manager  Neal Huntington answered questions from Greg Brown today on the telephone in his weekly show.   This is the unedited version, we attempt to give it to you within seconds of the show ending….if you have questions please send them to us via Twitter or in the commetns.

The weekly twitter question came today from @hemmist

Greg:  If Pedro Alvarez will continue struggling will he be sent to the minors to regain confidence?

Neal: .We are a long, long ways from having to consider that.  Pedro is working hard with Gregg Ritchie and Clint.  Like yesterday we see some good plate appearances and some not good.  In all consequences, it’s always possible for a player to return to minors.  Just like Brad Lincoln.

Pedro has been slow starter–Huntington went back to Vanderbilt to show the tendency.   Cold stretches get magnified when they happen at the beginning of the year as his has.

Greg: Brad

Neal: xBrad has thrown the ball well in both outings.  Low to mid 90’s was his fastball velocity.  Breaking ball was hard and sharp.  Strikes and chase pitch.  The changeup was used versus both left and right handed hitters.   Gave up a couple runs we didn’t give him much help defensively.

In our minds he is a starter.  He has weapons to be solid major league starter.  That’s how we are developing him.

Greg: Ross Ohlendorf?

Neal: He is progressing well.  He is getting ready to resume pitching.  Initial read not cuff or labrum related, it’s muscular related.  We have had positive returns from Ross.

We will evaluate if he needs a rehab start.  In fairness to Ross and teammates we will probably need to do that.

Greg:  How much of a luxury is Jeff Karstens?

Neal:  Karstens is a guy that we projected him to do exactly what he has done.  We saw him as a bottom of the rotation starter and in middle relief.  We could have missed on just how unselfish he is.  He has been tremendously valuable because he can pitch from the first to the eighth inning.  He does it with a smile and with intensity.  He tells the guys in the bullpen that he got us for the rest of the way when he runs out of the pen. 

We may look up five years from now and wonder why we didn’t put him in the rotation.   But he had some trouble getting over 90, 100, 110 mark that we look for from a starter. 

Jeff has value.  He may start for a while.  The beauty for Clint is the versatility.  He is an unheralded hero for us.

Greg: What about Garrett Olson’s future with the club?

Neal:  We have ten days to trade, or be claimed on waivers.  We would outright him if he doesn’t get claimed or traded.  We felt Beimel was a better fit.  We don’t have a lot of leverage.  He will be available soon on waivers.  We hope there may be a team that could be interested in him.  We picked first.  Typically we would receive a low end prospect back.  We are always looking for ways to improve the big league club. 

He did seem to slip and mention “the Garrett Olson trade” during the conversation, so perhaps a trade could be in the mix or simply Neal is working the magic. 

Greg:xAlex Presley batting .390

Neal:xGreat start, quality plate appearances, he has speed that can impact the game.  We have to get him to be more agressive.  He is off to a pretty solid start. 

Greg:  Lambo?

Neal:  Lambo is trying to do too much.  He has gotten better, he is now not trying to launch or pull.   He is working on being patient and disciplined.  We are seeing some positive things.

Greg: Is Ciriaco sulking?  Trying to do to much?

Neal:  In Pedro’s case, not hacking at first pitch near zone.  His hand eye ….I wouldnt say sulking.  Trying to show us he should be called back up.  Rather than relaxing, he is trying to do too much.

Chase d’Arnaud is off to a decent start.  A player sometimes doesn’t let his natural abilities play when that happens sometimes.

Greg:  Gorkys Hernandez reports?

Neal:  He is long limbed, loose, athletic.  Those types of players typically have long swings.  Sometimes guys with long swings can be exploited.  Gorkys had those flaws.  He is working on being more compact.  He was making those adjustments last season and then broke his finger.  Missed most of the rest of the season. 

He showed those adjustments, but sometimes they came and went in Spring Training.  He’s not sacrificing power with that swing.  Gorkys is probably one of the best defense outfielders we have.  That includes the Major Leagues.  He and Starling Marte (are best defenders.)  We have talked about having two centerfielders with (PNC Park dimensions.)  It’s exciting having those players on the horizon.

Greg:  Jose Ascanio?  Kevin Hart?  Tyler Yates?

Neal:  Ascanio had nice velocity 92-96.  Slider was flashed, inconsistent at times. Positive is he has pitched in winter ball.  It’s been a long frustating way back.  He is showing the quality stuff we saw when we traded for him. 

Ascanio is out of options.  It’s tough to stretch him out.  He is a guy that could be a multi-inning guy.  We will look at him as reliever.

Kevin Hart is getting stretched out.  Feeling good.

Tyler Yates wants to try and see this thing through.  Because it’s not ligament related, he wants to try and fight back again.

Greg:  Rudy Owens

Neal:   His fastball velocity is better.  He didn’t show us that in Spring Training.

Greg:  Jameson Taillon?

Neal:  Taillon, Allie, Heredia we are trying to build their pitch count.  They have all done well.  They had so few innings pitched last year, we’ve got to build them up.     We do have an internbal target date for them to go to West Virginia. 

Greg:  Prefer they go together?  We know they are great friends….

Neal:  No.  Their developments will be indiviually.  Taillon is more advanced.  Stetson was a position player……he has a great arm, but we are working on control and command of his stuff.  We need to refine it.

We want to put them in a position to be successful.  Under the lights…..  Cooking for themselves in an apartment. ….. thats a big deal for any 19 year old, let alone the attention they will get in our system. 

Greg:  Charlie Morton?

Neal:  He was outstanding.  If we go back to September of last year, that is twice that he faced a solid hitting club, in a pitchers park.  We need to keep it rolling with Charlie.

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