Pittsburgh Pirates Baseball: The Neal Huntington Show

Greg and Neal talked about the All-Star selections:

We are thrilled for each of the four, Jason Grilli in particular.  Locke’s first season.  Hopefully becmes regular occurence for Andrew and Pedro as well.  Now, we have to keep it rolling.  Andrew McCutchen is the rock that keeps this thing together.

Greg asked about a quiet moment alone you, Clint and Ray would admit you would prefer nobody.  Would you prefer that neither pitch in the game?

It has to be a special appearance…to be recognized, but they want to compete against the best of the best.   We hope they do well and come out healthy.  It’s a double edged sword, but we want our guys to go out and show why they are in the All-Star Game.

Greg asked what it means for Pittsburgh:

It’s a great thing for the city.  Nice that national media has noticed.  You could argue to some degree about Russ Martin, Mark Melancon, Francisco Liriano and Starling Marte too.  We need to sustain this, there is a deeper talent level.  There are guys that are performing in key roles.

With Molina injured, you would think Mike Matheny would not want him to play.

I think as soon as they make a decision, they regather and I believe it’s Bruce Bochy makes the decision.  We hope Russ is considered if…if Molina isn’t able to go.

Greg asked about the AAA All-Stars, Eastern League All-Stars:

Guys that have solid first halfs.  Some our guys on the radar, and other under the radar guys that we have liked…..in each case, it’s a great honor.  We had a good selection in Bradenton, and West Virginia and Jamestown keeps swinging along with the Gulf Coast we may have more guys to add.

Greg asked Huntington on the telephone line about if he was overall happy with the All-Star selections

To have four, we always want more.  We are thrilled with four, but feel some other guys deserve consideration.  It’s a testament to our scouts.  Draft, trade, ML Free Agent signings, a testsament to our minor league staff, Clint, Ray, Jay Bell, our training staff.  I hope our staff understands how much they have done in this regard.

Greg asked about injuries, the number of players on disabled list.  The Pirates being fortunate, one occured yesterday in term of Neil Walker.

We will see.  Sometimes you catch it earlier enough and it doesn’t take a period of time.  Other times it is in a tender area that gets tweaked.  We are early and feeling about how he feels today and tomorrow.  The All-Star break is great time to not play short, it’s a double edged sword, not just for Walk.  There is a good chance he might be back before the break.  We know one thing, Walk is going to get out there and compete as soon as he can.

Greg mentioned Francisco Liriano as slam dunk player of the year, and mentioned Cy Young early candidacy.

We felt changing leagues would help him.  Much like A.J.  We built a contract he was comfortable with, and we were comfortable with.  You’ve heard Francisco say it’s best his arm as felt.  Martin and McKenry have helped him work through times he didn’t have the good fastball command.

Greg asked if it was a bonus how Liriano has taken Latin players under his wing, what he has done behind the scenes.

We heard he was a good teammate, but a quiet teammate.  Player to player mentorship means the world.  It means a whole lot more from a player like Liriano who is playing well.  We have handful of guys providing that, and doing a heckuva job on the field.

Greg asked about A.J. not doing rehab and mentioned Burnett saying he didn’t hurt his arm.

A.J. is a competitor, a smart competitor.  A.J. believes he is one of the best five.  I think Clint will watch the pitch count today.  We have a bullpen that can carry multiple innings.  He has worked so hard to get back, has done well in Chicago.

Jeanmar has earned more starts.  The challenge is we have six starters we feel comfortable with.  Wandy is seven.  Brandon Cumpton is eight.   Jeanmar has made the decision very very difficult.

Greg asked about getting another bat at the deadline.

We are always looking for making club stronger.  We will see where we are.  Maybe something comes up sooner, later, or not at all.

Greg asked about Jose Tabata getting significant playing time.  Would you consider this a three-week tryout.  Clint said media will call it whatever they want.

We want to see where Jose is.  We thought Jose was going to be big part of our future.  Injuries have taken their toll.  But as playoff caliber team it’s not about giving players time.  We still have options, it’s tough for part timer to play as regular, so Jose received a cluster of at-bats at AAA and now is getting cluster.  I dont know if its tryout so to speak.  But it’s a way to get a guy cluster of at-bats….get a guy rolling.

Greg asked about Andrew Lambo getting close to ML consideration.

Andrew has done nice job since being promoted to AAA.  Even at the beginning of the year.  There is different maturity level this year (with him). We picked him up in a trade, we had high hopes for him.  We challenged him, he’s challenged us.  Andrew has to answer if he can sustain it.  Scouts are going to be looking for holes.  At ML level, scouts find holes quicker.

Greg asked about if being left-handed could hurt Lambo.

Ability to compliment other hitters…how he fits on bench…defensive double switch.  Thats one of the challenges looking forward if we add a bat, how does it impact defensive versatility…its not about getting best available player, because that player may not match what Clint wants/is trying to do.

Greg asked about James Taillon getting promoted to AAA.

The changeup is coming along.  He continues to make solid progress.  As terms of when he is ready to go to next level, we will let you know.

Greg asked about the scenario surrounding a possible return by Wandy Rodriguez.

PRP injection is using your own blood.  I think it’s a high speed spinner.  They draw out the real healthy stuff.  There isn’t a ton of scientific data behind it.  He probably would have healed fine without it.  He will be ‘no throw’ for approx three weeks.  Then we will build him up.  Hopefully the rest and the injection will get tightness and discomfort out of there and back to winning ballgames for us.

Jared Hughes?

Jared has felt very good and is ready to face live hitters.  Jared played a key role in bullpen last year.

Huntington mentioned the team hasn’t given up on James McDonald.  JMac will be ‘no throw’ for a period of time, much like Wandy.  The Bucs GM said James was trying to work through something he shouldn’t have been working through.  Who knows though, he said adding, anytime a player isn’t sure he’s healthy, it will impact his ability.  Nobody plays at one hundred percent in this game, but it’s about making sure it doesn’t hinder their ability on the field.

Greg asked about the Cubs getting praised for adding money to their international bonus pool.

It’s a new commodity.  We traded comp pick to get Gaby.  We will explore, we would love to be able to sign more players.

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