The Pirates pinned much of their hope for improved offense on how the right field platoon of Garrett Jones and Matt Diaz would flatten pitchers from opposite sides. But the duo has come up well short of that in the early going, and manager Clint Hurdle might be losing patience.
For Wednesday's game against visiting Milwaukee, Hurdle inserted Diaz against the Brewers' Shaun Marcum, a righty-righty matchup.
"A gut feeling" is what Hurdle called it, without much additional explanation.
That feeling surely originated from the numbers: Diaz is batting .263 after a 2-for-4 showing Wednesday in Pittsburgh's 6-0 loss, while Jones is at .172. They have combined for three RBI. In the platoon sense, Diaz is 0-for-3 against lefties, Jones 5-for-27 against righties.
For Jones, who has had the most playing time, that is a continuation of a .208 spring training in which he struggled to shorten his swing for better contact.
"That's always been my best approach, when I stay within myself, take the most direct path to the ball," Jones said. "When things aren't going as well, I get kind of long and loopy. Lots of moving parts."
Combined with equally slow starts from Pedro Alvarez, Ryan Doumit and Ronny Cedeno, the right field platoon's shortcomings have left the Pirates with precious little from the bottom of the batting order. In fact, if not for the sizzling starts by Jose Tabata and Neil Walker and, to a lesser extent, Andrew McCutchen, the offense might have numbers as poor as the team did last year, when it batted .232.
The overall output Wednesday was the Pirates' worst of the young season, held to just four hits by Marcum and three relievers.
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