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PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Pirates bet on themselves

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PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Pirates bet on themselves

Сообщение liny195 » Май 17th, 2019, 12:37 pm

a year ago when they traded away stars Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen Yonder Alonso Jersey , believing the return they received plus the pieces already in place would help them make inroads in the hypercompetitive National League Central.The results were promising. The Pirates put together just the franchise’s fourth winning season in the last quarter century, finishing 82-79 thanks in large part to the rapid development of a young starting rotation led by Jameson Taillon and Trevor Williams that quickly found its footing. While many of their rivals retooled over the winter, Pittsburgh instead doubled down on its largely homegrown approach.“I think that a seven-game improvement last year was a meaningful step forward, and we are absolutely positioned to take another meaningful step forward and get us back into that range where we have a very good shot at playoffs,” owner Bob Nutting said.To get there, the Pirates needs the core of the rotation of Taillon, Williams, Chris Archer — acquired in an aggressive move at last summer’s trade deadline — and Joe Musgrove to build off a solid 2018 while hoping the offense can become more potent under new hitting coach Rick Eckstein. While the Pirates were a respectable 10th in batting average in 2018 (.254), they ranked in the bottom half of the majors in runs, home runs and slugging.The return of third baseman Jung Ho Kang — who hit 36 homers in 2015 and 2016 before his career was derailed after being arrested on a DUI charge in his native South Korea in late 2016 — should help. First baseman Josh Bell spent a significant portion of his offseason working on regaining the stroke that allowed him to hit 26 home runs as a rookie in 2017, a total that dipped to 12 a season ago.Pittsburgh brought in veteran Lonnie Chisenhall to help out in right field until Gregory Polanco returns from shoulder surgery and shortstop Erik Gonzalez beat out Kevin Newman for the starting shortstop gig. Otherwise Pittsburgh’s lineup will look much as it did in 2018. The Pirates hardly see that as a negative.“Everybody is committed to doing what we can to putting a World Series championship team on the field,” team President Frank Coonelly said over the winter. “And we do know that we can do it.”Some things to look for as Pittsburgh vies for a return to the postseason for the first time since 2015.FIFTH AMENDMENT: The only real question mark on the pitching staff is at the back end of the rotation, where Nick Kingham and Jordan Lyles have spent the spring trying to lock down a roster spot. Kingham endured an up-and-down rookie season in 2018 while Lyles has worked primarily out of the bullpen since 2015.GOLDEN GUN: Leftfielder Corey Dickerson put together the finest season of his career in 2018 after being acquired from Tampa Bay late in spring training. He hit .300 and was a revelation on defense, where he won his first career Gold Glove while patrolling spacious PNC Park. He earned a raise to $8.5 million in 2019 http://www.indiansfanproshop.com/authentic-b.j.-upton-jersey , the final year of his contract. The 29-year-old Dickerson would like to stay in Pittsburgh long term but the Pirates have been hesitant to re-sign players in their 30s.FIRING FELIPE: While specific roles for the middle relievers remain in a bit of flux, the back end of the bullpen is set. Felipe Vazquez was the team’s only All-Star in 2018 while he converted 37 of 42 save opportunities. Keone Kela, brought over from Texas at the trade deadline, will work in the eighth inning with Kyle Crick getting a shot in the seventh. Their reliability will help shorten the game for Pittsburgh’s starting rotation.HOMEFIELD ADVANTAGE: Pittsburgh’s improved play in 2018 didn’t exactly galvanize the fan base. The Pirates posted their lowest average attendance at PNC Park since it opened in 2001 and its lowest overall since 1996. General manager Neal Huntington has spoken at length about the need to put a compelling product on the field, but that message hasn’t quite resonated.FOR OPENERS: The Pirates begin 2019 on the road at Cincinnati on March 28. Their home opener is on April 1 against the St. Louis Cardinals. ST. LOUIS (AP) — At 37, Adam Wainwright remains confident in his ability to still be effective on the mound for the Cardinals.Wainwright made just eight starts in an injury-plagued 2018 season, giving up 12 earned runs on 22 hits in 22 1-3 innings. He still struck out 25 and walked just four, but it was a frustrating season: He had a hamstring injury and started the season on the disabled list. He came back and made three starts. Then he returned to the 60-day DL with a sore right elbow.In his rehab outing before returning in September, Wainwright pitched 17 scoreless innings. His best outing was a two-hit, six-inning scoreless outing against the Los Angeles Dodgers in his next-to-last start.Wainwright showed himself and the Cardinals he could still pitch.“I want to win. There’s still a big part of me that thinks that I’m going to win a Cy Young,” Wainwright said. “So, I mean, even if that’s pitching in middle relief, I’d be the first one to ever do that.”Last October Bradley Zimmer Jersey , Wainwright inked a one-year contract worth $2 million plus bonus incentives. That deal followed a five-year, $97.5 million contract that had expired.He will be entering his 15th season with the Cardinals.“The way he pitched in that rehab assignment and the way he pitched in September is what established the fact that he can still pitch in the big leagues,” general manager Michael Girsch said. “It became obvious that he wanted to come back. He had convinced himself that he could do it.”His career in St. Louis has been a good one. He has 148 wins in his 14 seasons. Wainwright is two wins shy of becoming the fifth Cardinal pitcher and first since Bob Forsch to win 150 games.Wainwright was the runner-up for the Cy Young Award in 2010 and 2013. He also finished third twice.He has been a complete player in his tenure with his defense and hitting. Wainwright won Gold Glove awards in 2009 and 2013. In 2017, he captured the Silver Slugger Award as the best hitting pitcher in the National League.But since 2015, Wainwright has battled various ailments. He has been limited to only 68 starts since 2015. Wainwright finished last season 2-4 with a 4.46 ERA in 40 1-3 innings.“You know, if I’m being honest, last year or even the year before just the way my arm was feeling, I might have said I’m going to go out and win 25 games or whatever, but deep down I wasn’t mentally there,” Wainwright said at last month’s fan event before the team headed to Florida for spring training. “It’s one thing to say it, but it’s a whole another thing to believe it. I don’t know, but I’m on a whole different level health-wise this year than I have been in a few years. So, we’ll see what happens.”This spring, Wainwright reports he is healthy.“It’s been unlike any offseason for me since the 2014 offseason Brandon Guyer Jersey ,” Wainwright said. “Nothing to repair. No stitches to get out. No other surgeries to have. It’s been fun for me, actually. I was able to train completely normal again. I can throw completely normal. I already long tossed back to 210 feet. I haven’t done that since even I don’t know when.”Wainwright would like to be a starter this season. However, he has not ruled out to return to the bullpen, where he began his career.For starters, the Cardinals have former All-Stars Miles Mikolas, Michel Wacha and Carlos Martinez to lead the rotation. Jack Flaherty pitched well last season as a rookie to earn a spot in the rotation.That leaves one opening for a starter. Besides Wainwright, other contenders for a starting spot are Austin Gomber and John Gant. A wild card is Alex Reyes, who is healthy this spring. The hard-throwing right-hander has logged only four major league innings over the last two seasons due to injuries.“I trying not to think of anything that I can’t control,” Wainwright said. “And what I can control is coming in and getting outs. I’m pretty confident in that.”Wainwright wants to make the decision on who makes the rotation a tough one for manager Mike Shildt.“We have spring training for a reason,” Shildt said. “All those guys will come and be told to compete for a starting position and you just go from there.”Wainwright said he also knows this could be his last season in the majors.“I’m going to treat every year from here like it’s my last and go year to year,” Wainwright said. “I’m going to have a great time and maybe a year from now we’re having the same conversation or we’re having a retirement conversation.”

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