Neal Huntington Speaks: News and Notes From the GM

By Paul Zeise 6 years ago

Neal Huntington met with the media right before the start of the game. Here are some tidbits….

** Huntingon said Josh Harrison’s struggles are due to the fact that he seems to be trying too hard and mostly because he is trying to justify his new contract. He said this isn’t a surprise because of the person Harrison is but that the coaches have talked to him about relaxing and just getting back to play his game.

“Josh is the main the guy trying to do too much to justify [his contract],” Huntington said. “You generally see guys go in three directions when they get a contract. One, they relax and you see the true player because they have nothing to worry about as they are financially set for life. Two, we see a player that relaxes and maybe doesn’t care enough because he is financially set for life and so he takes a deep breath and doesn’t give you same energy and effort which is certainly not the case with Josh.

“The third case, which is what we believe is the case with Josh, he is trying to justify the contract, he is trying to show those who doubted him and show those of us that had faith in him that he is deserving but we just need him to take a deep breath and go be the player that he is capable of, bring the energy, be the leader, be the dangerous guy in the box.”

Huntington said that although Harrison is playing second base today and has played the outfield some as well, it doesn’t mean he is back to being a utility player.

“There is a very significant difference between a guy having versatility defensively and being a utility player,” Huntington said. “Josh’s versatility allows us to put the best defensive team on the field that we can and he is still going to play. So he’s not a utility player he is a regular.”

** Huntington gave some updates on the Pirates ailing pitchers down on the farm….

Tyler Glasnow (ankle) “He will continue to be evaluated on a daily basis.”

Nick Kingham (sore elbow) “We are working on getting a second opinion and it will probably not happen until late this coming week or early next week. The doctor he wants to go to is tied up.

Jameson Taillon (Tommy John) “He continues to make progress every day. He has been facing hitters and now we look forward to him starting to face hitters in different colored uniforms. But we are working him a very slow, very conservative progression because of our belief in what it takes to get back from Tommy John surgery.”

In terms of pitching depth in the organization, Huntington said that “Charlie Morton is not a bad guy to add back into the rotation and we will do that hopefully sooner rather than later” and also said Adrian Sampson and Clayton Richard are options they are looking at if they need help.”

** Jose Tabata’s days in the Pirates organization are numbered – well provided the Pirates can find someone to take his contract off their hands. That’s obviously a big “if” but the reality is Huntington and company have clearly soured on him and are at the point where he may need a change of scenery.

“We were aggressive with [Tabata] in what we believe he needed to do to in order to get back to the big leagues,” Huntington said. “And he is working hard to make that adjustment and as important, he is playing hard and showing up every at bat.

“We have been very open with Jose that while we hope his return to the big leagues with us, he is a guy who may need to get somebody else’s attention and have somebody come get him. If that happens we will be happy for him.”

** Huntington was asked about the Pirates slow start offensively and he said while there are some numbers (like their low walk rate) that are easy to point to, there are some things that are easy to see as well.

“We are missing pitches we have hit in the past and that we are capable of hitting,” he said. “Metrically, we are not walking enough and swinging too much and not driving fastballs as well as we did a year ago.”

** Huntington didn’t say that Vance Worley will be the odd man out again once Charlie Morton is back but it is pretty clear he is pitching his way out of the rotation. Huntington said Worley needs to pitch better because he doesn’t have a power arm to mask his mistakes.

“Any pitcher needs to execute his pitches, especially a guy who doesn’t have tremendous power or doesn’t have a tremendous breaking ball,” Huntington said. “Vance, Jeff and Charlie, when he comes back, they have to pitch, they have to execute their pitches and change speeds.

“And again, when you don’t have extreme velocity, you have to be a better pitcher. I think also there are some pitches that were perhaps being missed a year ago that aren’t being missed now.