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Thursday October 6 2022
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View From The Crow’s Nest

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*DURING THE PAST COUPLE OF YEARS, no Pirate has grown more as a player and a person than All-Star reliever Evan Meek, who says developing the ability NOT to dwell on poor performances has been one of the keys to his success. “Now if I have a bad outing, I forget it. I turn the page,” he commented. “Earlier in my career, I’d let it linger. I’d let it sit in my head and everyone would be able to see that. Now as soon as I leave the ballpark, it’s over with because I can’t carry that into my next outing. I can’t do it, and I don’t want to do it because I won’t be as effective.” The term “bulldog” really applies to Meek.

*LASTINGS MILLEDGE DIDN’T HIT his first home run of the season until June 27, but it was nice to see he remembered the theatrics that can be involved. He pumped his fist between first base and second base, pointed toward the heavens upon reaching the home plate, and then ripped an imaginary monkey off his back a few steps away from the dugout. The Pirates’ outfielder plays like he’s constantly thinking about the fact that he’s being watched – kind of like Dave Parker did. Give Milledge credit though, he rebounded nicely with the bat in June and July after looking like he might end up on the Aki Iwamura-Jeff Clement scrap heap early this season.

*THE PIRATES DESPERATELY NEED to develop, obtain or perhaps kidnap a couple stud starting pitchers, and that need has been there for a long time. Doug Drabek won at least 15 games four times in five seasons between 1988 and 1992, but since he left town only one Pittsburgh pitcher—Todd Ritchie in 1999—has won that many games in a single season. And Ritchie was signed as a minor league free agent. This year, Colorado’s Ubaldo Jimenez won 15 games before the All-Star break. Meanwhile, the Pirates had a starting pitcher (Charlie Morton) who LOST nine games before the end of May, and one of the guys who tied for the club lead in victories a year ago (Ross Ohlendorf) somehow managed to win just once through late July.

*PEDRO ALVAREZ GAVE US A SCARE when he first arrived in the big leagues, didn’t he? In the early going, opposing pitchers were getting the budding Pirate slugger out—and striking him out—way too easily. There was actually a point where pitcher Brad Lincoln (since demoted) looked like more of a threat at the plate. But after two weeks or so Alvarez began to put that power we’ve heard so much about on display. For 10 years now we’ve been waiting for a left-handed-hitting Bucco who can pop home runs into those inviting seats above the Clemente Wall at PNC Park on a regular basis. It looks like we might finally have our guy. Power is such an uplifting part of baseball and Alvarez definitely has plenty of it.

*SAN FRANCISCO RELIEVER DAN RUNZLER dislocated his left knee swinging at a pitch—and missing—during his first major league at bat on July 8. And back in mid-May, St. Louis hurler Brad Penny strained a muscle in his back in the process of hitting a grand slam and missed more than two months of action. Those two stories are great arguments for the designated hitter, huh? Whether pitchers connect or not, they can hurt themselves up there at the dish. Plus I’ve always thought that asking pitchers to hit is a lot like asking defensive linemen to run pass routes. It’s just not something most of them do very well.

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