Pirates opt to retain GM Neal Huntington

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The Pirates’ season has derailed, but the engineer will be returning. Pirates president Frank Coonelly released a statement Wednesday saying that GM Neal Huntington would be back in 2013.

Manager Clint Hurdle and assistant GMs Kyle Stark and Greg Smith are also expected back.

“As soon as we finish this season as well as we possibly can, we will turn our full and total attention to evaluating why were unable to finish the job and what we must do differently to take the next step to becoming a championship team,” Coonelly’s statement read. “There will unquestionably be changes made to the way in which we operate as a result of this thorough critical self-evaluation, but we will not be making personnel changes at the very top of our baseball operations department. Neal, Kyle, Greg and Clint are dedicated and intelligent baseball men in whom I have great confidence.”

If the Pirates’ season had unfolded differently and the team had achieved its current 76-78 record through more typical means, Huntington probably wouldn’t have been on the hot seat in the first place. That several of the most important players on the roster (Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez, James McDonald, Starling Marte) have had such encouraging seasons is really the most important thing here. The only real key disappointment is Jose Tabata, and he has played better since returning from the minors. Retaining Huntington is certainly the right move. The Pirates’ probably haven’t been in this good of shape in 20 years.

Starling Marté, Erik González placed on injured list following outfield collision

Starling Marte
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Pirates center fielder Starling Marté has been placed on the 10-day injured list with an abdominal wall contusion and shortstop Erik González has been assigned to the 60-day injured list with a fractured left clavicle, the club announced Saturday. In corresponding moves, outfield prospect Bryan Reynolds and shortstop Cole Tucker have been called up from Triple-A Indianapolis.

Both Marté and González were removed from Friday’s game against the Giants after colliding on an attempted outfield catch in the eighth inning. The players fell to the ground after crashing into each other at full speed and appeared to be in severe pain for several minutes. González was eventually able to walk off the field without assistance, while Marté was carted off after receiving attention from the Pirates’ staff.

It’s an unfortunate loss for the Pirates, as both players will likely require a lengthy recovery process before they’re cleared to rejoin the roster later this season. Prior to the incident, Marté slashed just .203/.247/.377 with seven extra-base hits, three stolen bases (in four chances), and a .623 OPS through his first 74 plate appearances of 2019, while González maintained a .216/.298/.294 batting line with three extra bases, two stolen bases, and a .592 OPS through 59 PA.

In the interim, however, the club will benefit from the talents of two top-10 prospects. Reynolds, 24, ranks no. 8 in the Pirates’ farm system and was promoted to Triple-A at the start of 2019, where he played center field and slashed .367/.446/.735 with five home runs and 11 RBI through 57 PA. Tucker, 22, placed fifth-best among the team’s prospects and also received his first promotion to Triple-A this spring, where his .333 average, three homers, and five stolen bases recommended him for an early MLB debut. Reynolds and Tucker are scheduled to make their big-league debuts together on Saturday against the Giants at 4:05 PM EDT.