Perrotto: Only one question left for Jung Ho Kang to prove


It is unlikely that anyone — except those who speak Korean — truly understand how Jung Ho Kang feels about his rookie season with the Pirates. The shortstop from South Korea’s English is improving all the time. He takes regular lessons and speaks it well enough to converse with his teammates. “He is speaking in full sentences now,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said with a hint of pride. “We’ve tried to learn some Korean, too, but at the rate it is going I think he will be able speak English fluently before our Korean is good enough to matter.” Kang seems to be a funny guy. His teammates often laugh when they around him and he gave a sometimes-hilarious interview through a translator during spring training to reporters who regularly cover the team. However, the Pirates switched translators before the start of the regular season and his answers are nowRead More »

Pirates – Giants Reactions: Liriano keeps his composure to stay on winning track


PIRATES – GIANTS REACTIONS By John Perrotto Photo: David Hague Francisco Liriano hasn’t lost a game since the Pirates were no-hit by Max Scherzer. That was more than two months ago, June 20 to be exact, when the Washington Nationals ace missed a perfect game by a whisker at Nationals Park. That was 10 starts ago and Liriano is 5-0 in that span to raise his season record to 9-6. Liriano stayed on the winning track Sunday night despite bad defense behind him and poor command of his pitches as the Pirates beat the San Francisco Giants 5-2. “Some things happened out there that complicated some things some times,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said, “but we were able to stay in front of it and gets out when we needed them and add on runs when we needed them.” And Liriano kept his composure even when first baseman Pedro AlvarezRead More »

Morning Pirates Buzz: Walk-Off Marte; Cole gets back on track


By John Perrotto PITTSBURGH — The ultra-talented Starling Marte makes his share of mistakes that leaves everyone in the ballpark scratching their heads at times. A case in point came in the seventh inning Saturday at PNC Park when the Pirates left fielder doubled to lead off then inexplicably took off for third base with one out and the score tied 1-1 and San Francisco Giants rookie reliever Hunter Strickland standing on the mound and holding the ball. Strickland easily threw Marte out at third base. Rookie shortstop Jung Ho Kang followed with a home run that put the Pirates ahead 2-1 rather than 3-1. The lost run proved critical when the Giants tied the game in the top of the eighth on a run-scoring wild pitch by reliever Joakim Soria. However, Marte more than made up for it the bottom of the ninth inning when he launched a first-pitchRead More »

Pirates – Giants Reactions: Trouble continues for Jeff Locke when falling behind in counts


PIRATES – GIANTS REACTIONS By John Perrotto Jeff Locke thought he had pulled out of funk last Sunday when he held the National League East-leading Mets to one run in 5 1/3 innings at New York. The Pirates left-hander fell right back into it Friday night in a 6-4 loss to the San Francisco Giants at PNC Park. Locke (6-8) was ripped for six runs and 11 hits in five innings while striking out two and walking one. Locke has failed to pitch at least six innings in any of his last six starts, going 1-2 with a 6.39 ERA in that span. “I didn’t really ever get settled in,” Locke said. “It’s not like they’re going to give any at-bats away, either. They play a very similar offense to the way we do. So any given night that team can go out there and be aggressive just like weRead More »

Perrotto: Pedro Alvarez’ challenge rest of season is two-fold


FRIDAY PIRATES FEATURE By John Perrotto Photo: David Hague The last out had only been recorded moments earlier Thursday night of the Pirates’ 4-0 victory over the San Francisco Giants when the Twitter message arrived. “Who’s going to be the first baseman next year?” the questioner asked. “Hope it’s not Pedro.” Pedro, of course, is Pedro Alvarez and the message only reinforced the idea that he is most polarizing player on the Pirates’ roster. Alvarez went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and a segment of the fans base was ready to give up on him. In the preceding days, the talk shows and chat rooms were abuzz about how Alvarez’s bat was waking up at just right time — in the midst of a pennant race. The left-handed slugger had gone 15-for-31 (.484) with four home runs and nine RBIs in his 11 games prior to Sunday. However, Alvarez’s performance hasRead More »

Pirates – Giants Reactions: Charlie Morton neutralizing left-handers with new go-to pitch


PIRATES – GIANTS REACTIONS By John Perrotto Photo: David Hague Charlie Morton is no longer a one-pitch pitcher. “We’re watching Charlie develop into more of a complete pitcher instead of a pitcher with a good sinkerball,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Thursday night. Morton showed that as he worked 6 2/3 strong innings and combined with relievers Jared Hughes and Tony Watson on a six-hit shutout as the Pirates beat the San Francisco Giants 4-0 at PNC Park. The Pirates won for the seventh time in their last eight games to improve to a season-high 25 games over .500 at 72-47. They sliced their deficit in the National League Central to 4 ½ games to the idle St. Louis Cardinals and maintained a four-game over the Chicago Cubs for the first wild card playoff berth. Morton flummoxed the Giants in knots with his curveball as he had eight strikeouts andRead More »

Pirates – Diamondbacks Reactions: Happ helping further cement Ray Searage reputation as one of the best pitching coaches


PIRATES – DIAMONDBACKS REACTIONS By John Perrotto Photo: David Hague PITTSBURGH — It is only two starts but J.A. Happ is only helping Ray Searage further cement his reputation as one of baseball’s best pitching coaches. Happ had his second strong start in a row Wednesday night for the Pirates following a disastrous debut two weeks ago and a string of bad outings for the Seattle Mariners before being traded on July 31 for pitching prospect Adrian Sampson. The left-hander pitched six scoreless innings and allowed just two hits for his first win with the Pirates as they beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-1 on Wednesday night at PNC Park. The Diamondbacks had been averaging 5.24 runs in their first 17 games of August. The Pirates stayed five games behind the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central and moved to four games in front of the Chicago Cubs inRead More »

Pirates – Diamondbacks Reactions: Florimon delivers in the 15th


PIRATES – DIAMONDBACKS REACTIONS By John Perrotto Photo: David Hague Clint Hurdle has a soft spot for bench players. The Pirates; manager can’t help it. “I can’t relate to a guy like (All-Star center fielder Andrew) McCutchen. I don’t have any hardware,” Hurdle was said early Wednesday morning after his team outlasted the Arizona Diamondbacks 9-8 in 15 innings at PNC Park. So Hurdle was thrilled that the last man on the Pirates’ 25-man roster, utility infielder Pedro Florimon, delivered the game-winner triple with two outs in the bottom of the 15th. “I was that player later in my career,” Hurdle said. “You show up, you get ready to go and when they tell you to go you go. You don’t get to play much and when you do you need to play well because the game is usually on the line. “For (Florimon) to come up and do that,Read More »

Tuesday – Feature: Hurdle keen on Aramis Ramirez batting cleanup and where it’s headed


TUESDAY-FEATURE By John Perrotto PITTSBURGH — It was easy to look at the Pirates’ trade for Aramis Ramirez as nothing more than a bandage. The Pirates needed help of the left side of the infield last month when third baseman Josh Harrison (torn left thumb ligament) and shortstop Jordy Mercer (sprained left knee) went on the disabled list with significant injuries. Thus, Ramirez seemed the perfect short-term fix. The 37-year-old third baseman still had some power and could hold the Pirates over following his July 23 acquisition from the Milwaukee Brewers in trade until Harrison and Mercer returned. However, when Harrison and Mercer are activated sometime next week, it is not going to be so simple for manager Clint Hurdle to relegate Ramirez to the bench. Ramirez has proven to be a good fit as the cleanup hitter in a Pirates’ lineup that had been lacking a true No. 4Read More »

Pirates – Diamondbacks Reactions: Cole can’t put a finger on August struggles


PIRATES – DIAMONDBACKS REACTIONS By John Perrotto Photo: David Hague Gerrit Cole remains stuck on 14 wins and it’s a little confusing to him. The right-hander is struggling early in games, the Pirates get behind and keeping him from win No. 15. Cole’s record dropped to 14-7 on Monday night as the Pirates lost 4-1 to the Arizona Diamondbacks at PNC Park in the opener of a three-game series. He allowed four runs and nine hits in 6 2/3 innings with one walk and five strikeouts. “I can’t put my finger on it,” Cole said. “The best I can do is just keep moving forward as the game progresses. “ The Diamondbacks jumped on Cole for two runs in the top of the first inning after they had been no-hit into the eighth inning Sunday at Atlanta by Braves right-hander Shelby Miller. A.J. Pollock tripled with one out and scoredRead More »