Pirates notebook: No major changes coming ahead of Rockies series
PHOENIX — Pirates manager Clint Hurdle does not expect to make any major changes to the lineup during the four-game series this week against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.
“There are legitimate differences that only that park provides,” Hurdle said Sunday. “We’re not going to do anything crazy. We’re going to stay in rotation with the guys we’re looking to give a break.”
Hurdle was mum on whether center fielder Andrew McCutchen will get a rest day during the series. McCutchen has started all 19 games so far.
“His health is in a much different place than it was last year,” Hurdle said. “He is being monitored, as is every other player.”
Hurdle said taking McCutchen out of a game early — which happened Thursday in San Diego, when McCutchen sat out the last three innings — can help, but that doesn’t take the place of a full day off.
Last season, the starting pitchers were a little worn down when the Pirates arrived in Denver in late September. Hurdle altered his approach with the bullpen.
“We tried to get our starters through five (innings), then got them out,” Hurdle said.
This year, the situation is different.
“Right now, we’re trying to get more length out of our starters, so we might go at it from a reverse angle,” Hurdle said. “We’ll see.”
Young catches up
Special instructor Kevin Young spent the past three days with the team in Arizona. Young tutored John Jaso at first base during spring training and is pleased with what he’s seeing from Jaso at the new position.
“He’s come a long way,” Young said. “It’s a credit to who he is as a player. His work ethic is unbelievable.”
Young has a checklist of things to evaluate when he watches Jaso.
“Holding runners on, positioning, his first step to the ball, getting to the bag — a lot of detail stuff,” Young said. “As he gets comfortable this first month, he’ll take on new tasks and challenges as the season goes on. The more we can stay ahead of those things, the better off we’ll be.”
When Jung Ho Kang comes off the disabled list, David Freese could get game action at first base. Young and Freese worked there during spring training and will get after it again when the Pirates get back to Pittsburgh at the end of this week.
Around the horn
On Saturday, Kang got the first hit of his rehab assignment with Triple-A Indianapolis. It seems likely he’ll come off the DL in early May. “Today will tell us more about tomorrow,” Hurdle said. “We’re looking to bundle some at-bats, then we’ll see. Sometime toward the end of the month, we’ll have a much clearer vision of what we want to do next and when we want to do it.” … Jack Wilson was at the Pirates’ game against the Padres on Thursday at Petco Park. On Saturday, Freddy Sanchez attended the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Shortstop Wilson and second baseman Sanchez formed a prolific double-play combination for the Pirates, especially in 2007-09.