First Pitch: Recapping the Weekend News You Probably Missed

Over the weekend, the Pittsburgh Pirates lost their three-game series against the Washington Nationals, moving them closer to elimination from the playoffs. Ivan Nova struggled in his start, Tyler Glasnow struggled in his start, and Bryce Harper struggled with his slide into third base, which should have never happened because the third base coach is there for a reason. Most people saw that part of the weekend, but there were some other Pirates related news items this weekend.

If you’re wondering about Tim Williams, he got knocked out by a migraine, so my offer to add notes to the First Pitch article turned into me doing the First Pitch article tonight. So this is just a guest appearance and we will return you to your regularly scheduled programming tomorrow.

If you’ve been keeping up with the World Baseball Classic recaps, you know that infielder Kyle Simmons and pitcher Jared Lakind were representing the Pirates in the tournament held over the weekend in Brooklyn. Their teams met on Sunday night and Israel won the qualifier for the tournament. The entire field is now set for the WBC in March of next year. If you didn’t know already, that means Spring Training next year will be longer. Some people will inevitably complain about that and I’ve never understood that thinking. A shorter Spring Training would just mean it starts later, not that the season would start earlier. If you don’t like it, don’t pay attention the first two weeks, problem solved.

Lakind only pitched once for Israel, throwing a shutout inning on Friday. I posted a recap of his outing on Saturday morning. Simmons ended up starting all four games at third base for Great Britain, and not only was it a great experience for the 19-year-old from the Bahamas, he ended up impressing me with his play. Simmons did not have a good season in the Dominican Summer League this year. He drew a lot of walks, but he also struck out a ton, and didn’t hit for average or power. That wasn’t the player I saw in this tournament.

Simmons ended up going 3-for-9 with three walks, posting a .333/.500/.444 slash line. He drove the ball well twice for singles and showed off some really nice speed on the bases. He also looked good over at third base, a position he hasn’t played yet in two seasons with the Pirates.

Due to his struggles during the season, I wasn’t even sure if he would start a game for Great Britain. Not only did he start, but he looked like he has played third base for awhile, and he had a nice approach at the plate. One of his outs was a well-struck grounder to the first baseman, going the other way with authority. Another out was a strikeout on two pitches (called strikes) which were well outside the strike zone. It was a really nice tournament for him, though it would have been nice if Great Britain qualified so he could get a chance to play again in March.

There was also some other international news, which was off the radar. Major League Baseball announced the Extreme Fatigue list for winter ball. Don’t worry if you missed it, one of the players on the list missed the news too, finding out from me about it when I asked why he was on the list. If you don’t know, MLB sends a list of players they don’t want playing winter ball to the leagues in Mexico, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and the Dominican. Usually a player makes the list because they played too much during the season, hence the term “extreme fatigue”.

Not every case fits that description though. Case in point, Elias Diaz is on the list and his winter ball team isn’t happy about it. The Pirates likely want Diaz to recover fully this off-season, while his team in Venezuela believes he needs to play to make up for the missed time. Teams can appeal for the player to play, but that usually doesn’t work out. That doesn’t mean they won’t play any winter ball though. The list just guarantees they will be out of action until mid-December. After that, their roster spot can be reconsidered.

I have to say that I’m a bit surprised Diaz is on the list. I would think winter ball would be the perfect time for him to get in some game action. I figured at worst, they would just limit his time behind the plate, still allowing him to get at-bats as the designated hitter. I could see where the Pirates are coming from because he did put in a lot of rehab work this season down at Pirate City. I wouldn’t be shocked if he ended up playing during the second half of the winter season.

Also on the list for Venezuela is reliever Felipe Rivero. He has made 73 appearances this season out of the bullpen. He also hasn’t played winter ball since 2013, though he did pitcher in the Arizona Fall League in 2014. I’m guessing we won’t see him this winter.

The Dominican League has a couple players who shouldn’t surprise anyone. Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco won’t be playing for Leones del Escogido this winter unless it’s late in the season when some of the Major League players join in, which is like the start of Spring Training for them. The league runs until early February for teams that make the Caribbean World Series, so for some players it’s a jump start on their spring.

The Pirates also put pitchers Yeudy Garcia, Pedro Vasquez, Edgar Santana, Angel Sanchez and Antonio Bastardo on the list for the Dominican. Garcia is obvious, especially after we heard that the Pirates sent him to Pittsburgh to get his shoulder examined after the season (no update on that yet). Santana is another who is easy to figure out, since he is going to the Arizona Fall League. Bastardo has pitched 65 games this season and hasn’t played winter ball since 2013.

If you forgot Angel Sanchez was still around, it’s because he has been at Pirate City all year rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. It’s also why he is on the extreme fatigue list. He is a minor league free agent, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Pirates re-sign him. They knew he would be out this entire season, yet they gave him a nice salary for the year, so there is probably some interest in bringing him back.

Vasquez is one of the players acquired from the Mariners in the Arquimedes Caminero trade. He’s currently starting games in the Fall Instructional League, so he is getting in some extra innings. He threw 71.2 innings during the regular season, plus he’s a lower level player, which means he wasn’t going to see any action in the Dominican this season.

The final player was Mikell Granberry, who played in the GCL this season. No shock here as he is currently in the Fall Instructional League rehabbing a broken hand. He won’t be ready to play until late October at the earliest, so putting him on the list won’t cost him much time. I believe it’s more of a precaution against his team in Mexico rushing him back over the winter.

DAILY LINKS

**Welcome Back, Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen has turned his season around since the beginning of August. Tim Williams breaks down that turn around here.

**Pirates Name Josh Bell and Mitch Keller as Their Minor League Season Award Winners. Bell is the first two-time winner of the Minor League Player of the Year Award. Mitch Keller put up impressive numbers this season, beating out Tyler Glasnow for the pitching award. Keller also gave his thoughts on his season and winning the award.

**A Look at Adam Frazier’s Defense as a Utility Player. Alan Saunders looks at the defensive versatility of Adam Frazier, who doesn’t have strong defense at any particular position, but he’s still trying to learn the role that could be his future with the club. On another note, Frazier passed the 130 at-bat mark on Saturday, which means he won’t be in the 2017 Prospect Guide.

**Pirates Notes: Clint Hurdle and Pirates Players Remember Jose Fernandez. Some comments on the tragic news from Sunday morning. Also includes notes on Steven Brault going to the bullpen for the last week of the season, and Tyler Glasnow returning to the rotation.

**Tyler Glasnow Struggles in His Return to the Pirates Rotation. Speaking of Glasnow returning to the rotation, it didn’t go so well on Sunday. We have said in the past that he goes through an adjustment period at new levels and I think the important part is just getting him these starts, regardless of the results. Of course, I think he should have been in the rotation a lot sooner to give him added experience going into next year, but you take what you can get at this point.

**Neal Huntington on Recent Injures and Plans for 2017. Speaking of 2017….

  • I like Sean Rod and his ability to stand up like a man.

    • Agree. He is Serpico and stares down umpires after bad calls, stared down Wertz who jumped out of the dugout and flailed himself into the players on the field.
      Sean Rod is one macho guy πŸ™‚

  • Is there an Extreme Frustration List? I’ve got a couple of candidates to put on that list.

  • I had a friend who constantly got migraines. They never did find out what caused them. I sure hope they can find and resolve Tim’s.

  • Get well Tim.

  • Thanks John, I learned something new – I had never heard of the extreme fatigue list. Maybe there should be something like that for fans.

    A .500 team with 8 games left in the season and we trot out a starting lineup that includes Jaso, Rodriguez, Florimon, and Fryer, and then Freese and Joyce are inserted later to get their share of innings. That’s 6 aging veterans that if I never saw again in a Pirate Uni, I would not be upset. Some have done well for the Pirates, but CH just cannot help himself – if NH gives him 30+ guys, CH will invent ways to play them.

    Maybe the Transition of 2016 only applied to Pitching.

    • What a craptastic job Hurdle does with the lineups. Joyce hasn’t hit a HR since Aug and has nary an RBI in Sept. on top of his 4 for 30 or so ABs. Jaso is taking ABs away from Bell, Florimon is playing 2nd when he is a better SS than SRod who is better at 2nd, Fryer isn’t in Stallings league defensively, etc.

    • Yes Clint wants all to love him! What a guy! Can we trade him for Tito’s son?

  • A lot of good information. Thanks for stepping in.

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