Results tagged ‘ Don Long ’

While I was out…

Jenifer Langosch/

A few miscellaneous items that I wanted to make sure weren’t missed while I was gone on a quick vacation:

  • Former Pirates third base coach Tony Beasley has been named the new manager for the Nationals’ Double-A team in Harrisburg. Beasley was under contract with the Pirates through 2011, but Clint Hurdle did not keep him on the Major League coaching staff.
  • The Cardinals have dealt Brendan Ryan to the Mariners, thereby eliminating another potential shortstop option for the Pirates. At this point, it’s hard to see where Pittsburgh is going to look for an upgrade at short. Ryan would have been a tremendous defensive option, but he’s now out of the mix like J.J. Hardy and Jason Bartlett. As the days go by, it looks more and more like Ronny Cedeno will be the team’s Opening Day shortstop.
  • Don’t forget that the 1960 World Series Game 7 special will be televised on MLB Network at 8 p.m. on Wednesday. The DVD of the game with interviews is available for purchase. Details can be found here.
  • Former Pirates hitting coach Don Long interviewed for the Mets’ hitting coach position, but he did not get the job. It was announced on Monday that Dave Hudgens will be New York’s next hitting coach.

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Winter Meetings Day 2 grumblings…

Jenifer Langosch/

Haven’t heard much substantial regarding the Pirates today, as impending deals with free agent pitchers Scott Olsen and Kevin Correia are at a standstill and awaiting physicals. Neither is likely to be done by the time everyone departs the Winter Meetings on Thursday. But they should be finalized not long after.

A few thoughts/notes/pure speculation/analysis regarding other activity today:

  • It’s unknown if the Pirates’ acquisition of two starting pitchers will push the club to start focusing more on other needs than on adding starting depth. On the other hand, you can’t have too much starting pitching. And neither Olsen or Correia are exactly coming off banner years, so the Pirates would do well to keep looking for additional options.
  • The Pirates are still in the market for a right-handed hitting first baseman or right fielder. Matt Diaz, who was non-tendered by Atlanta last week, seemed like one option that could be a good fit. However, Diaz seems to be a target for a lot of teams, so the Pirates might be squeezed out of a shot at him.
  • Josh Willingham, who the Nationals are making known is available in a trade, is another interesting name. Willingham would cost some money — he made $4.6 million last year and is arbitration eligible for the third time this offseason. He would also only be guaranteed to stay for one year, which could be a turnoff to the Pirates. But he has some pop, and if the Nationals need to clear some salary room for their big offseason spending plans, they might be willing to give up Willingham for not so hefty a return. Just a thought. 
  • Former Pirates hitting coach Don Long was in Orlando on Tuesday interviewing to be the Mets’ hitting coach. I’d imagine that had something to do with Jason Bay, who credits Long with turning him around in 2008.
  • Former Pirates manager Jim Tracy is recovering at a local hospital after collapsing at the hotel on Monday night.
  • A report surfaced not long ago saying that talks were heating up between the Orioles and Rays for a Jason Bartlett –  Nolan Reimold swap. If that comes to frutition, that would take Barlett off the Pirates’ list for potential shortstop upgrades.

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Beasley, Banister, Long express desire to return

Jenifer Langosch/

Three coaches from the Pirates’ 2010 staff said on Monday that they would consider returning to the organization next season under a new manager.

Shortly after the Pirates announced that John Russell had been removed as the team’s manager, hitting coach Don Long, third base coach Tony Beasley and interim bench coach Jeff Banister told that they would welcome the opportunity to return to the Major League coaching staff and see the organization’s rebuilding process through.

General manager Neal Huntington left that door open, too, saying that the coaches would each be evaluated individually, with the possibility that they could be brought back. But since the Pirates’ next manager will have a significant say in hiring his coaching staff, no coaching decisions will be made until after that hire.

In the meantime, Huntington has told each coach that he is welcome to pursue other opportunities.

Reached at his home in Virginia, Beasley expressed a strong desire to return for a 19th season in the Pirates’ organization. He has spent the last three serving as the team’s third base coach and baserunning instructor.

Beasley is also under contract through the 2011 season, so that could be a factor as the organization assembles its next staff.

“I would definitely love to be back, especially with where we are with the young kids,” Beasley said. “I’d definitely love to be a part of that and a part of the growth. The process that we talked about is kind of coming to an end. I see that in the near future, and hopefully I can be a part of that. I know it’s out of my hands, but until I’m told otherwise, I hope to stay.”

Beasley said that Huntington spoke with members of the coaching staff during the team’s most recent road trip and informed them that the immediate future was uncertain for everyone.

“I’m willing to be patience and see how it works out,” Beasley said.

Like Beasley, Long was hired shortly after Russell was named manager in November 2007. Though the team finished last in the National League in batting average (.242) this season, Long has been credited by numerous players for the work he’s done with them over the past three seasons.

Most recently, he oversaw the rookie success of Jose Tabata, Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez. Two years ago, he helped Jason Bay, Xavier Nady and Nate McLouth take significant strides forward in their approaches and swings.

“The competitive side of me says we started that process and we’ve been through major overhaul on the roster,” Long said. “We’ve gotten to the point that guys who you thought would have the chance to come up here did, and they showed big signs of what they’re capable of doing. I would want to see through.

“For the people on the outside looking in, the most dominant stat is the record,” he added. “But to watch a group of players – where there is a lot of youth and not a lot of experience – go from where they started to where they finished, it’s definitely a step in the right direction. People on the outside looking in can scoff at that. But for me, as a coach, the most important thing is you take care of the things you can take care of and one of those is how you prepare and how you show up.”

Long said a decision on his future will come after he spends some time with his family. He also said he realizes that returning might not even be an option in the end.

“I’m going to take some time to absorb it a little bit and then take some time to look at the options and what I want to do,” he said. “You never know, there is always the opportunity to stay. Or there is the potential that whoever they hire will want someone they are more familiar with. And I understand that.”

Banister joined the Major League staff as the club’s interim bench coach in early August, following the dismissal of Gary Varsho. He has been with the organization for the last 25 years and began his eighth season as the Pirates’ Minor League Field Coordinator earlier this year.

Though Banister may not retain his Major League coaching job, his rapport with players and coaches in the Minor League levels would seem to suggest that the Pirates would welcome having him return in some capacity. The Pirates, however, have not announced such a decision.

Asked if he would like to continue working with the organization, Banister said: “That’s an obvious yes. There’s a lot of guys I know very well who’ve come up through our system that are there. They’ve developed, they continue to develop. They’re not finished by any stretch of the imagination. I’d love to continue that if Neal, [president] Frank [Coonelly] and [owner] Bob [Nutting] allow that to happen.

“My passion is for this organization and where I think we can go and where I think we are going. It’s unfinished for me. Until somebody tells me they don’t need my services anymore, I’ll always feel that way. I grew up in this uniform and there are a lot of things I think we can and will do. I’m sure some people think we are a ways away. I see it every day, and I know we’re not that far away. There’s a really strong nucleus of talented athletes that take the field every day. There is some finishing that needs to go along with their Major League experience before they truly know what it takes to win on an every-day basis. Hopefully, I’m part of that, in whatever capacity that is.

The rest of Russell’s former staff included Luis Dorante (bullpen coach), Carlos Garcia (first base/infield coach) and Ray Searage (interim pitching coach).

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Day 11: Daily Squeeze

Jenifer Langosch/

Aki Iwamura.jpgSecond baseman Aki Iwamura might be rivaling Andrew McCutchen as the most popular player here at Spring Training. It seems the Floridians who watched him play three seasons with the Rays fell in love with the guy. There was an adorable little boy yelling, “Aki! Aki! Aki!” all through the team’s infield drills. And the hoarde of autograph seekers seemed to make Iwamura a priority. You’ll see that in the photo that I snapped with my phone earlier.

As for the rest of your daily squeeze:

  • There’s still no date for Octavio Dotel to begin throwing again, though it’s still expected to be sometime next week. Joel Hanrahan is still on target to have his first long toss session on Wednesday. Both pitchers will move with the team to McKechnie Field to get their work rather than stay at Pirate City.
  • Today was the fourth day of live BP and it featured righty Brendan Donnelly for the first time. He had skipped his first session to throw a normal side instead. Again, there is no reason to be alarmed. He’s just being given more time to get ready since he doesn’t need as many Grapefruit League innings.
  • Bullpen catcher Heberto Andrade has arrived in Bradenton after being held up in Venezuela with visa issues.
  • For all of you Pittsburghers curious as to the status of hometown boy Neil Walker, here’s a piece about what’s in store for him this spring. 
  • Bobby Crosby worked with the second baseman during infield practice on Sunday. The Pirates plan on getting him reps all over the infield so that he can be a backup option anywhere. Steve Pearce spent the day working with the outfielders, while Garrett Jones stuck to infield work. Besides taking groundballs as usual, infielders also worked on pop-ups.
  • Hitting coach Don Long had a situational hitting game going on at Field 5 for much of the morning. Here was the premise: A runner is on third and your corner infielders are playing in. On the infield grass, stretching from short to second, Long placed orange and black traffic cones. The goal was for the batters to hit balls low and hard in the direction of the cones to drive the imaginary runner in. If your hit gets him home, that’s 1 point. Hit an orange cone: 2 points. Knock an orange cone down: 5 points. Hit a black cone: 5 points. Knock a black cone down: 15 points.
  • The winner of the drill was the infield group of Crosby, Iwamura, Ronny Cedeno, Ramon Vazquez. In one five-swing sequence, Crosby recorded 19 points (he knocked down a black cone obviously). That was the high round of the day.
  • It was photo day in the morning, and players/coaches/manager had their photos taken by 12 outlets.
  • Monday marks the final day of workouts at Pirate City before all the activities move over to McKechnie Field
  • If you’re reading this on Sunday afternoon, close the browser and go watch some hockey. Big game between USA and Canada is on in case you missed the memo.

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Q-and-A time with your Buccos

Jenifer Langosch/

Those participating in the hour-long session at PirateFest included hitting coach Don Long, Bobby Crosby, Evan Meek, Garrett Jones, Steve Pearce, Daniel McCutchen, Andrew McCutchen, Lastings Milledge, Neil Walker, Paul Maholm, Andy LaRoche, Joel Hanrahan, Ross Ohlendorf, Charlie Morton, Ryan Doumit and manager John Russell.

Here are some of your questions, as best I could transcribe…

To Ryan Doumit and Paul Maholm, what is it like being some of the last guys left in this organization after all that turnover?

Maholm: It’s kind of odd all of a sudden to become the guy with the most time on the team. But it’s fun. We’ve got a great group of guys and we expect to win.

Doumit: It kind of happened real quick from me, being just a guy on the team to being a salty vet. But it’s kind of fun.

To Andrew McCutchen, we saw what you did after your walk-off homer last year, what are your plans for the next one?

McCutchen: No, I don’t have anything planned on the top of my head. Me and [Lastings] Milledge talked about what I would do with a walk-off the night before and I said I wanted to do that. Then I did. Do you have any ideas?

Do you have any superstitions?

A. McCutchen: I think the game itself is very superstitious. You do some things every day that you don’t even know you’re doing, like you’re bat stance. I go up with the Pirate Parrot and jump up before every game.

Milledge: The way we get ready for the game. We have a set routine going to the training room, getting your workout in. You try to get in a set routine and do it so long that if you don’t do something that you’re used to doing every day, it gets weird.

Walker: Me personally, I don’t have any superstitions. Probably the biggest thing is putting clothing on the exact same way. I know Andrew was lying. He doesn’t wash his socks.

Hanrahan: I usually drink a Red Bull about the fifth inning so if he calls me in any earlier than that, I don’t know what I’d do.

Ohlendorf: If I’m pitching at home, I eat the same thing before every game. I go down to Atria’s and get the same thing every day for lunch. Then when I get to the field, I play cards a little bit and then do a lot of reading. I read a lot of history.

Doumit: I think it’s more of just a routine of keeping everything in the same place. I like to have my catcher’s equipment in the same place, put my bat in the same place every day.

D. McCutchen: I have a routine every fifth day. I do the same thing every time I take the mound — throw six warm-up pitches. If I’ve been pitching badly, I’ll bust out new cleats, socks, sliders and see if that helps.

Jones: When I was going through a slump, I took out at Olive Garden one day and then went 3-for-4. Then I started getting the same thing at Olive Garden for lunch every day for about a month and a half.

What do you like to do when not playing baseball?

A. McCutchen: I like video games – Guitar Hero and Call of Duty.

Walker: For me it’s usually the movies and getting dinner at a normal time.

Morton: I like to play the guitar and listen to music.

Doumit: I’m a big movie buff.

D. McCutchen: During the season, I like to golf. I’ve also been getting into hunting lately.

Jones: After the season I just go to my bedroom, turn off the lights and wait until next season. I just dream about baseball.

Coming to Pittsburgh you had a bad rap in the media, how have things been different in Pittsburgh?

Milledge: I think I brought a lot of stuff on myself in previous organization. I didn’t take the game very seriously. I was just always blessed with talent and a lot of things were handed to me. Once I came here, I didn’t take the game for granted anymore. I’m working a little bit harder, doing the things that got me drafted. Just not taking the game for granted. It’s a clean slate for me and I’m really taking advantage of everything that’s being offered to me.

Then Ohlendorf added: A lot of us had heard things about Lastings in the past, but I think I speak for everybody when I say that he’s been a great teammate. Things you’ve read about him being lazy or being a bad teammate, he’s not been that way. I think he’ll be one of the leaders.

How do you prepare mentally/physically to endure an entire 162-game season?

Ohlendorf: With physical preparation, you have routines and figure out what works. Mental preparation, a lot of it is just rest and being rejuvenated for the season. Some people read books – I do – about being aware of your thoughts. A lot of us are excited about this season. I think it’ll be different from last year when we trailed off. I think you can expect us to get better as the season goes on. It seems like there will be fewer trades than there have been. We’re all confident that we can be good Major League players.

Andrew, How did it feel to hit three home runs in one game with your parents in the stands?

McCutchen: It was definitely amazing. It was my parent’s anniversary and it was great for them to be there to enjoy that. The funny thing is that they were late coming to the game and missed the first one. They were able to see the next two. Who knows if it’ll happen again.

How do you come up to your at-bat music?

[Insert Andrew McCutchen rapping here]

Morton: I like country music the best. But some of it can definitely put people to sleep, so you have to find something interesting.

Doumit: I’ve always tried to follow Chipper Jones’ lead. He’s come up to Crazy Train his whole career. It’s kind of become his identity. I am doing the same thing and sticking with one song.

D. McCutchen: I don’t have anything really picked out. Maybe I’ll take one of Charlie Morton’s songs.

Jones: As a hitter, you’ve got to get something that people will get into. I might go with that new Miley Cyrus song “Party in the USA.”

Meek: I’m actually more of a Britney Spears fan.

Crosby: I’ve never had a walk-up song. I’ll take requests.

To Garrett, do you prefer to play first base or right field on a given day?

Jones: They are totally different positions. Thank you for saying I am amazing at first base. Those are pretty powerful words. But I don’t care where I play, I just hope to be in the lineup. I try to give 100 percent in every game. I probably feel a little more comfortable at first base because it’s my natural position, but I’ll play wherever they want me to play.

What was it like to get a win with the Nationals on a day off with the Pirates?

Hanrahan: I thought it was pretty cool. I kind of wanted to go to Houston and play that game with the Nationals before I got traded because I was on-deck and would have faced one of my good friends [LaTroy Hawkins]. But I was sleeping when it happened. I had just played 18 holes of golf.

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October 4: Pirates (62-98) @ Reds (77-84); Season finale

Jenifer Langosch/

It’s hard to believe that it’s been close to eight months since the team descended on Bradenton, Fla., to begin the 2009 season. Now it’s about to end here in Cincinnati in a few hours.

Instead of spending time looking back on the season here (you’ll see end of the season stories coming out on the main site throughout the week for that), I wanted to use this forum to let you all know what to expect from me this offseason.

I am actually headed to Los Angeles tomorrow to assist with coverage of the Cardinals-Dodgers NL Division Series. Later in the month, I’ll be helping cover the World Series for as well, wherever that might end up being. That said, you can expect to see NLDS and WS related Twitter updates from my account, and I’ll do some blog postings about it as well — likely photos and interesting anecdotes from the postseason. Obviously none of it will be Pirates related, but I hope that as baseball fans, there will be something there for you to appreciate.

My playoff duties, though, won’t stop the Pirates coverage from coming (I just won’t sleep, that’s all). Here’s some of what you can expect this offseason:

  • Through October, you should likely find at least three new Pirates stories on the site every week. That count will likely rise to at least four or five a week after the postseason comes to an end.
  • Obviously, news will always be on there, but I’ve also got some features and series that prepared to for the site. There will soon be a seven-part series that highlights the highs and lows of each Minor League affiliate this season. Also, as everyone starts to look ahead to 2010, I have a number of stories ready to give you regarding position battles, position changes, the free agent market and the overall outlook. Arizona Fall League and winter ball updates will also come out weekly once those leagues get into full swing.
  • I’d like to give you all an Inbox edition every week, assuming I get enough questions to stay afloat. I know your minds wander as the free agent market develops, so this will be a good means for interaction between you all and me. Inbox questions can be sent to me at Don’t forget to include your first name, last initial and hometown. Also, it would be a big help if you put “Inbox” in the subject line.
  • This blog will continue to be updated regularly and I’ll use my Twitter account all offseason, too, especially for breaking news. If you are not already a follower, the account name is @LangoschMLB.

I think that hits the most important points for the time being. Thanks to all of you who have stuck around as faithful blog followers through a trying season. Hope this blog was able to supplement the coverage to your liking, and if you have any suggestions on how I continue using it moving forward, I’m always willing to listen.

Enjoy game No. 161.

As for today’s news, notes and randomness…

  • Catcher Ryan Doumit is out of the lineup on Sunday because of that minor concussion he sustained on Friday. Doumit had his mask knocked off on a foul tip, stayed in the game, but was a little woozy afterward. He did not play on Saturday either. Assuming he won’t get in Sunday as a pinch hitter, Doumit finishes the season with a .250 average, 10 homers and 38 RBIs.
  • There has still been no decision made about whether first base coach Perry Hill will return for another season with the team. Expect that decision to be made in the next few days.
  • GM Neal Huntington said that Jose Ascanio, at best, would be able to begin his rehab program from right shoulder surgery in four months. He is not expected to be ready at the start of the season. June 1, Huntington said, would be a more realistic, though still optimistic, date. 
  • The Pirates’ errorless game on Saturday was their 100th such game this season. That sets a franchise record. The previous high was 99 games in 2007. The Pirates also have made the fewest amount of errors (73) in the Majors. That, too, is a franchise low.
  • The Pirates enter this game 62-98, while the Orioles are 63-98. Why is this important? The two are battling it out for Draft picks No. 2 and 3. If the Pirates lose OR the Orioles win, the Pirates will pick second next summer. The only way the Orioles would get that No. 2 pick is if the Pirates win AND the Orioles lose.
  • With Anthony Claggett’s appearance on Saturday (1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER), the Pirates finish the 2009 season with 49 different players used. That ties a club record. The team used 26 pitchers, also tying a club record.
  • The Pirates will hold two conditioning camps (one in November, one in December) this offseason, as well as their January mini-camp. Also, players will have the opportunity to go travel to see Joe Kerrigan, Don Long and Hill (if he returns) this offseason for specialized work.
  • 182: That’s the number of days until the Pirates’ April 5 season opener against the Dodgers at PNC Park. Get your winter coats and ski caps ready, folks.
  • And here are some dates to get you through the next few months: MLB General Manager’s Meetings (Nov. 9-11), MLB Winter Meetings (Dec. 7-10), Pirates Mini Camp (Jan. 12-16), Pirates Caravan and PirateFest (Jan. 24-31).

Pirates lineup:

  1. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  2. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  3. Garrett Jones (1B)
  4. Lastings Milledge (LF)
  5. Brandon Moss (RF)
  6. Delwyn Young (2B)
  7. Robinzon Diaz (C)
  8. Luis Cruz (SS)
  9. Jeff Karstens (RHP)

Reds lineup:

  1. Drew Stubbs (CF)
  2. Paul Janish (SS)
  3. Joey Votto (1B)
  4. Brandon Phillips (2B)
  5. Scott Rolen (3B)
  6. Jay Bruce (RF)
  7. Laynce Nix (LF)
  8. Corky Miller (C)
  9. Homer Bailey (RHP)

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