CLEVELAND -- The Pirates' early-season offensive struggles were compounded by a rash of outs they kept running into on the bases. From getting caught stealing to getting caught trying to advance an extra base, the gaffes kept raising eyebrows.There was a method to that madness, however: Raising the Bucs' identity as a daredevil, running team. Mission far from accomplished, but manager Clint Hurdle is committed to seeing it through. This is more about reputation and trepidation than execution. It is certainly more about mere numbers like stolen-base percentage, although the Pirates are trending up in that regard, with 11 thefts in their last 13 attempts. Andrew McCutchen leads the team with 13 stolen bases in 17 attempts. "As soon as we walk into a place," Hurdle said, "one of the first things that will come up in scouting reports is, 'Guys, these guys will move on the bases. We've gotta be sharp. We've gotta handle the ball.' "It's an important part of our identity, that we're known as a team that will move on the bases. It helps the mentality, and puts more pressure on the defense. Guys know they've got to catch it, get it in the air. No time for bobbles, no time for misses, no time for clangs."
- 142 wins
- 110 wins
Pirates start planning for Trade Deadline
CLEVELAND -- Entry on the to-do lists of both manager Clint Hurdle and general manager Neal Huntington when the Bucs are back in Pittsburgh at the end of this Interleague swing through Baltimore and Cleveland: Take a meeting to discuss needs, and the available currency to pay for them, on the gradual approach to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. "I haven't yet been involved in the internal discussions, but Neal and I will regroup when we get home," Hurdle said prior to Sunday's series finale against the Indians. "Once you get past the 50-game mark, one-third of the season, you start looking realistically and what you need and where your surplus might be, and start looking for matches. "We've been engaged with other clubs for the last six weeks now. There's no traction anywhere." In his own pregame meeting with reporters, Huntington put it another way: "It's an obvious trade market now. It's non-existent." Mid-June is a relatively tentative time, anyway. The additional and significant drag right now is the introduction of second Wild Card postseason spots in each league, which naturally has more teams on the fence. "We've been told by some clubs that they are going to hold out as long as they can to sell tickets, and keep their fans engaged," Huntington said. "That will obviously take multiple sellers off the market, and you can't blame them for trying to stay in it."
Hurdle said he expects the complications of the new Wild Card berths to lead to a move in the Trade Deadline that has often been debated in the past."With that extra Wild Card, every passing week everybody is trying to decide, 'Is it sooner, or is it later?'" Hurdle said. "The hard part is we're not the only club looking for specific things. A lot more clubs are involved, so it gets pushed back. Teams are taking longer to see if they are buyers or sellers."
Right-hander Daniel McCutchen will continue his rehab from a strained left oblique injury with Triple-A Indianapolis. McCutchen has been on the DL since May 13, and made one rehab appearance with Class A Bradenton on Thursday. Jared Hughes continues moving up in the ranks of National League rookie pitchers. Entering Sunday, Hughes led rookies with a 1.93 ERA and 25 appearances, and was No. 2 with an opponents' average of .217.
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.