The Braves snap the skid behind Hanson, Heyward

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Tommy Hanson 2.jpgThe Braves snapped their nine-game losing streak behind a two-run homer from Jason Heyward in the third and eight strong innings from Tommy Hanson.  But Heyward and Hanson are good and we knew that. The real relief is that Nate McLouth hit a homer, establishing that, contrary to all previous indications, he was not spending the year dead for tax purposes.

Hanson allowed two runs on four hits and struck out seven.  He hasn’t allowed more than two runs in
each of his first five starts and has a 2.17 ERA. This was his longest outing of the year, however, and it was nice to see him going after batters.

Heyward was robbed of another homer by Hunter Pence. Amazing play, the video of which you can see here.  After the catch Heyward tipped his batting helmet to the Astros’ right fielder.

Report: Pirates to convert JB Shuck into two-way player

JB Shuck
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Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.

Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.

Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.

Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.