Pirates, Braves rained out
ATLANTA — Neither Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon nor Atlanta Braves skipper Bobby Cox was unhappy that last night’s game was a washout.
It was pouring at Turner Field hours before the first pitch was to be thrown. The umpires waited 48 minutes, then called the whole thing off.
The game will be made up at 4:35 p.m. on Sept. 5 as part of a doubleheader.
“You always want to play,” McClendon said. “But the conditions did not allow us to play. It gives us an opportunity to get cleaned up, get our starters back in line, our bullpen rested.
“The good thing about it is we don’t have to play the doubleheader until rosters are expanded in September.”
The Pirates just finished a series against the Boston Red Sox, the best hitting team in the American League. Tuesday, they begin a set against Toronto, the AL’s second-best offense. So, McClendon does not mind missing a game against Atlanta, the team with the most high-powered attack in the majors.
“My pitching is not in great shape, with the doubleheader (Wednesday) against Boston,” he said.
If last night’s game had not been rained out, Salomon Torres would have made a spot start Sunday. That’s not necessary now, so he will be well rested and available in the bullpen.
Torres took the news with a grain of salt.
“It’s the same mentality — get people out,” he said. “I know I’m not a starter right now. I’d like to be, one day, but I’m taking this opportunity to do the best that I can. If that means I’m going to be a reliever for the rest of my career, so be it.”
McClendon added that reliever Joe Beimel is not 100 percent.
“It’s nothing from a baseball standpoint,” McClendon said. “It’s allergies.”
Right-handers Kip Wells and Josh Fogg will have their starts bumped back a day because of the rainout. The extra rest is good news for Wells, who is set to make his second outing after missing time with a blister.
“Blisters can be funny things,” McClendon said. “They can re-develop, so you have to be careful.”
The Braves also needed the day off to give a breather to some wounded players. Shane Reynolds, who was slated to start last night, will go today, but Haracio Ramirez will skip a start so Russ Ortiz can pitch Sunday.
That allows Cox to use Ramirez as a fill-in Monday for Mike Hampton, who is day-to-day with a pulled groin. If Cox juggles the rotation enough, he wouldn’t have to use Hampton until next Saturday.
“This (rainout) does a lot of good for us,” Cox said.
Atlanta outfielders Andruw Jones (shoulder) and Chipper Jones (wrist) also are battling injuries.
The Pirates’ bench is a bit short-handed, with Matt Stairs on an injury rehabilitation assignment with Class AAA Nashville. There is no guarantee Stairs will rejoin the club Tuesday for the start of a three-game interleague series against the Toronto Blue Jays.
The injury to his right index finger has healed, but his batting stroke still needs some nursing.
Stairs was batting .185 with one homer and five RBI before he was injured. He has two hits, both homers, in 11 at-bats (.182) in four games for Nashville.
“I’d like to get Matt back here as soon as he’s swinging like he’s capable,” McClendon said. “He left spring training swinging the bat extremely well. Somewhere along the way, he lost that stroke. I want him to find that groove again.”
McClendon did not say who he might use as a designated hitter in Toronto if Stairs does not rejoin the team.