Neal Huntington Show Recap: The John Holdzkom Legend


Aug 30, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Neal Huntington in the dugout before the Pirates host the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Neal Huntington Show was broadcast on 93.7 The Fan again today from Wrigley Field.  Greg Brown served as the host of the show and peppered Neal Huntington, the Pittsburgh Pirates General Manager and Senior Vice President, with questions.

Huntington started off the show talking about Francisco Liriano pitching well in the second half of the season.

The Josh Harrison injury was a big topic of the show, as were the injuries the team has been able to overcome in 2014

"Josh is doing everything in his power to get back.  It’s been so fun to watch him play this year.  This ankle has bothered him off and on all season.  He has battled through this ankle.  He’s a gamer.  Shows up to help this team win."

Brown talked about Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison going out and playing through injuries.

"Nobody is one hundred percent.  I respect these guys a ton.  Show up every day to get the Pirates to win."

Brown asked about crystal ball…starting third baseman next season.  Of course NH wasn’t touching that one.

"Right now focus is on present.  Internally, we started to think…the front office that is, about 2015 three years ago.  But we are focused on trying to bring championship to people of Pittsburgh."

The discussion moved around a bit including the following quotes from NH.

"Jose Tabata has given us nice at bats.Pedro Alvarez still feels pain in that right foot."

Brown talked about the left handed hitting outfield…how figure out who starts?

"That is a great question.  Clint has three legit options.  Travis has showed the promise we thought we were acquiring.  Lambo outperformed Polanco at AAA level.  Obviously, we love Gregory Polanco as well.  I think Clint will mix and match….Andrews ability to play first base.  Clint will be able to be agressive.It’s the hottest and healthiest team that wins in October."

In a few weeks, you will celebrate your seven year anniversary as GM.  Most resilient Pirates team in recent memory.

"The NL playoff teams will be survivor.  Marquee guys step up at right time.  Look at our lineup today…(went thru) at some point all position players have missed time due to injury.  Gerritt Cole…Liriano…bullpen has been beat up.  Speaks to these guys…our staff…led by Clint….old cliche one game at a time."

The Neal Huntington Show has spent a lot of time over the years discussing Charlie Morton.  Today might have been the most confused I had heard Huntington in a long time.  Its very apparent to tell that Huntington wants to give Charlie every opportunity to help the ball club.  But it won’t be an easy decision with the Pirates needing to send the best possible pitcher to the mound every inning the rest of the season.

NH spoke about Charlie Morton trying to battle through injury.

"We will see how the simulated game goes in Philadelphia.  If he feels significantly better there is our sign.  We havent had a strong indication either way…talked about it depends on how Morton feels after the sim game.NH really sounds confused about Morton.  It seems Morton must be giving the team the feeling that he could pitch through the injury.  It wasn’t clear cut, but NH did say that, when Charlie is healthy he is a better option than what Pirates have in their rotation."

Aug 18, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Neal Huntington reacts while watching batting practice before the Pirates host the Atlanta Braves at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The John Holdzkom legend was discussed.  He talked about Ty Brooks wanting to invest in scouting the Independent Leagues.

"When Ty brought Mals name (Mal Fishman is the scout that landed Holdzkom) to us….we looked into things…he (Mal) was strong on John…came to AA with some slider, the palm ball.  He made AA look really easy.  We thought when he went to AAA he might be able to help us late in year.Hitters were not getting barrel to it.  The palm balm was good quality pitch for him.  He battled through it.  He knows it’s a tremendous opportunity.  To watch him get the opportunity…with zero hint of nerves…he is quality young man….wants to put himself in position to be in our bullpen for a long time.He was pitching for his life in the Independent League.  A lot of the minors is learning.  John showed us he was ready to handle differnent level.  We were agressive…..we will see.  Hopefully eight or nine years he will be pitching mid 90s stuff for us.We did our homework.  At this point in time, he is a model citizen.  If you ask people about my past, their are people that didn’t like me.  For most of my time here, people didn’t like me….probably still are people that don’t like me.  (Big chuckles)We are impressed with his realization that he wants to capitialize on this opportunity.I was sitting with Kyle and Greg yesterday…..  looking at John Axford out in bullpen, he had similar rise.His palmball handcuffed Russ Martin.  That is saying something."

NH described Holdzkom as a player that realizes he has a wonderful opportunity.  You can tell he is excited for his staff whom he directed all the credit for finding the fireballing Holdzkom.  It’s also easy to tell that Huntington sees the years of control the Pirates have with Holdzkom and what that can mean to a Pirates bullpen that desperately needed a stopper.

Sep 2, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher John Holdzkom (43) throws to a St. Louis Cardinals in his major league debut during the eighth inning at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Pirates 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports