Tag:Julio Lugo
Posted on: April 26, 2009 8:46 pm
Edited on: April 27, 2009 1:48 pm
 

Short Hops: Hot Pirates, returning Lugo, etc.

A baseball season is a series of tests, and even with its pitching going gangbusters, Pittsburgh is being tested right now. The Pirates lost catcher and cleanup hitter Ryan Doumit to a broken wrist last week and then disabled shortstop Jack Wilson on Sunday with a sprained left middle finger.

Meantime, outfielder Nate McLouth missed the weekend series in San Diego after suffering a strained right oblique during batting practice Friday.

"We're going to have to really pull it together," manager John Russell says.

The Pirates did so in Sunday's 8-3 win over San Diego. Shortstop Brian Bixler, recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis, punched a two-run double and catcher Robinson Diaz singled home two more runs.

The Pirates can't necessarily plan on that sort of success every day from their role players, and losing Doumit, especially, for what is expected to be eight-to-10 weeks will hurt. But the Pirates do appear built better this year to withstand such injuries with veterans such as Eric Hinske, Craig Monroe and Ramon Vazquez and rookie catcher Jason Jaramillo.

"Neal (Huntington, Pittsburgh general manager) has done a great job," Russell says. "Depth is one thing as an organization we've focused on. Acquiring talent, developing our talent and having good drafts. It was tough to trade Damaso Marte and Xavier Nady last year. But coming out of spring training, there's a lot more depth than last year."

The Pirates especially will lean on Jaramillo, acquired last December for Ronny Paulino, with Doumit out for an extended period.

"It's tough," Pirates pitcher Zach Duke says. "He's our guy. He's our leader. We want him back there. J.J. is a capable catcher. He works his butt off and we're comfortable with him behind the plate. He's stepped in nicely.

"You can ask anybody in here, if he hits .250 and calls a good game and blocks everything, we'll be more than happy."

-- After taking the first two games of their series with the Yankees before heading into battle one more time Sunday night, more good news is on deck for the Red Sox: Shortstop Julio Lugo is through his rehabilitation period and is expected to be in the lineup Monday night in Cleveland. And while Lugo hasn't exactly come close to living up to expectations since he signing with Boston, there is this: Among the 11 American League shortstops with at least 300 plate appearances in 2008, Lugo's .356 on-base percentage was second only to Derek Jeter's .360.

-- We'll never know if there would have been the usual scouts or SAT administrators behind the plate, but we just missed a matchup of Princeton University products over the weekend when Russ Ohlendorf started for Pittsburgh on Sunday while San Diego's Chris Young will go Monday in Colorado. When Pittsburgh played San Diego last September, Young and Ohlendorf missed each other by just a day as well. They are two of only three pitchers in Princeton baseball history to be named Ivy League rookie of the year (Young won in 1999 and Ohlendorf in 2002).

-- Maybe a day off last Wednesday against Detroit helped Los Angeles Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick, who homered and had a career-high four RBI in Sunday's 8-0 win over Seattle. Kendrick has been having a miserable time this season and is still hitting just .258 after his 4-for-5 day Sunday. Most noticeable has been  his strikeout total -- 14 in just 66, a rate of one per 4.7 at-bats as opposed to the one per 5.9 at-bats last year. Manager Mike Scioscia said it was a combination of mechanical flaws and Kendrick pressing. And what bothered the manager as much as the whiffs were the weak, rollover ground balls Kendrick was sending to the left side of the infield.

-- Update on two disabled Angels starters: John Lackey worked two innings' worth of an extended spring training game in Tempe, Ariz., on Saturday, same as Ervin Santana a day earlier. The duo each will have another extended spring training outing this week, Santana on Wednesday and Lackey on Thursday, and if it's still all systems go, they'll each likely report for rehabilitation assignments at Class A Rancho Cucamonga. The program would put Lackey and Santana back in the Angels' rotatoin sometime around mid-May.

Likes: Glad to see Pittsburgh pitching coach Joe Kerrigan back in the game. ... Watched San Diego State right-hander Stephen Strasburg, the probably No. 1 pick in this June's draft, on Friday night and the kid is the real deal. Very, very impressive. Column coming on him later this week. ... Somehow managed to miss the entire NFL draft. Aw, shucks ... not. ... Closer Trevor Hoffman activated in Milwaukee. ...

Dislikes: Detroit catcher Matt Treanor about to undergo hip surgery? Say it ain't so! Now he and wife Misti May-Treanor, the Olympic gold medalist, can rehab together. She's still recovering from a ruptured Achilles heel suffered on Dancing with the Stars. Another reason why I don't dance.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Our house is a very, very fine house
"With two cats in the yard
"Life used to be so hard"

-- Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Our House

Posted on: April 7, 2008 1:53 pm
 

Fenway, Cueto & One Shining Moment -- what a week

What you'll be talking about this week: Is Detroit ever going to, maybe, win a game? The only winless team in the majors at 0-6, maybe you think that's a joke. But check out this next stretch of the Tigers' schedule: At Boston for three beginning on Tuesday, at the White Sox this weekend (and Chicago, coming off of a sweep in Detroit, is playing really well), then home for two against Minnesota (ah, perhaps a breather?) then at Cleveland for two and Toronto for three.

The Tigers rank dead last in the American League -- and 28th in the majors -- in runs scored. Read all about it over in the Weekend Buzz.

What you'll also talk about: Guess what? Boston is heading home for its Fenway Park opener on Tuesday. No small statement, either -- the Red Sox have flown more than 15,000 air miles since leaving Florida what seems like two months ago to travel to Japan, California, Toronto and, finally, home again. It's been a 19-day odyssey that has covered three countries and winds up with Boston in last place in the AL East for the first time since April 10, 2005.

Granted, the Red Sox are only two games out, but still. Going into this season, it was clear that survival would be the key to the stretch the Red Sox have just finished. Last place isn't great, but it's early and a two-game deficit is nothing. But, and this is a big but: Will the past three weeks leave the Red Sox gassed for the foreseeable future, or will they recover pretty quickly once they get home? A hangover effect could open the door for Toronto -- whose pitching was terrific in the first week -- among others to establish itself early.

Most pressing thing for Boston right now is to straighten out shortstop Julio Lugo. He committed three errors in Sunday's loss to Toronto after committing another on Saturday. His throwing is nearly as out of whack as Tuesday's Fenway Park opponent, Detroit. The Red Sox get their 2007 World Series rings in a pre-game ceremony Tuesday.

Perhaps this conversation is better skipped: In the throes of a terrible start, the Giants return home for their opener Monday afternoon against San Diego. They arrive reeling with a 1-5 record. Only Colorado (10) has scored fewer than the Giants' 12 runs.

Oh, and when they get home, the Giants will see a de-Bonds-itized AT&T Park. The Giants have scrubbed nearly every reference to the Big Man. But they sure were happy to take your money the past several years through tickets, T-shirts, jerseys, caps, and anything else that could earn them a buck.

What you can't help but talk about: That speculation regarding the brown stuff on San Diego ace Jake Peavy's right hand in the immediate aftermath of Saturday's dominating performance over Los Angeles? Dirt mixed with resin and sweat? Pine tar? Faulty M&Ms that melted in his hand, not his mouth?

Well, tune in for the sequel on Friday night in Dodger Stadium, where Peavy will have a re-match with Los Angeles ace Brad Penny. Gee, what kind of reception to you think he'll get there?

What you should be talking about: Cincinnati at Milwaukee on Tuesday night. Why? Reds rookie Johnny Cueto, who was filthy on Thursday, gets his second start of the season against a very good Brewers' lineup. Cueto's fastball was sizzling in the mid-90s, his slider embarrassing Arizona hitters at 89 m.p.h. or so and from what we saw in one brief outing, this kid is a no-hitter waiting to happen.

What you really should talk about: Pittsburgh outfielder Nate McLouth hit .429 during the season's first week and banged out a base hit in his first at-bat against the Cubs on Monday morning in Pittsburgh. This guy is sizzling and giving the Pirates some hope. Let's watch how the Cubs and Cincinnati pitch him this week.

Likes: All of these day games this early in the season. Nice to have baseball to watch at home during the day -- or anywhere during the day. ... Does anybody in the game have more guts and competitive fire than John Smoltz? Answer: No. ... Will you look at this, Cincinnati is getting some pitching. Johnny Cueto was fabulous last Thursday and Edinson Volquez, the pitcher acquired from Texas in the Josh Hamilton deal, was really good Sunday. The Reds get pitching, they stay in contention. ... Nice to have Jon Miller and Joe Morgan back every Sunday night again. ... Martin Scorcese's look at the Rolling Stones in Shine a Light is terrific. Scorcese or no, there's no groundbreaking stuff on the Stones, so if you're looking for that, change your expectations. But if you like the Stones, it's a very well-done concert film/documentary in which several lesser-known tunes are featured. The blues number with Buddy Guy is great, and Mick Jagger's duet with Christina Aguilera sizzles. She's got some pipes, that girl. ...One Shining Moment -- the song, the video montage, the entire thing. The NCAA title game always makes this one of the best Monday nights of the year.

Dislikes: Aw, you hate to see Colorado open at home over this past weekend celebrating its first NL title, raising the championship banner, receiving NL champion rings ... and get swept by Arizona (Diamondbacks fans, this part doesn't apply to you!)

Rock-n-Roll lyric of the day:

"Well my friends are gone and my hair is grey
"I ache in the places where I used to play
"And I'm crazy for love but I'm not coming on
"I'm just paying my rent every day
"Oh, in the tower of song"

-- Leonard Cohen, Tower of Song

 
 
 
 
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