Day 30: “But it worked in practice!”

The Pirates spent about 15 minutes of Friday morning’s workouts having middle infielders, all of them, take turns firing balls intentionally in the dirt at the first basemen. The first sackers showed brilliant pick ’em skills, not one reminder of Dick Stuart, Dr. Strangeglove.

Chris McGuiness was one of those digging ball after ball out of the dirt, short shops and big hops. Didn’t miss a single one.

So, the game with the Phillies begins. The very first batter, Tony Gwynn, strikes out on a wicked curve, which catcher Tony Sanchez can’t handle cleanly. So he retrieves the ball, steps out in front of the plate for a clear line of vision and throws one at McGuiness’ feet — just like the dozens he’d handled cleanly in practice.

This one clangs off McGuiness’ glove. Error, Sanchez. Gwynn later scores, unearned run.

Practice may make perfect. But perfecter practice doesn’t guarantee anything, I guess. That’s baseball.

* * *

Charlie Morton is due to make a Saturday start in a Minor League game at Pirate City, where Wandy Rodriguez and Francisco Liriano have also made recent starts.

Good reason for these pitchers having to stretch out in Minor League exhibitions: The Pirates tried to schedule “B” games against Major League competition, to accommodate the needed work for the many pitchers still in camp, but couldn’t find any takers.

* * *

Poor Brandon Cumpton. He lives by the ground ball — and dies by the ground ball.

Cumpton has allowed nine runs this spring — and five of them have been unearned. That’s been a common problem for the right-hander, since his intention is to get batters to beat balls into the dirt, raising the possibility of misplays.

Cumpton gave up an unearned run in his brief Major League debut last season. In the Minors, he was victimized by eight unearned runs last year and seven in 2012.

“I try not to let that bother me,” Cumpton says. “Over the course of the season, that stuff evens out . I get my share of double plays, too.”

* * *

Given all the attention to the Pirates’ frequent and very successful strategy of moving infielders around to match hitters’ tendencies, I am amazed no one has yet flooded Pittsburgh-area stores with tee-shirts that say:

“SHI(F)T

HAPPENS”

And just so you know, I hereby place a citizen’s trademark on that. You know, like “citizen’s arrest.” 

2 Comments

lol shift happens, i like it alot!

Great tee shirt idea! You should maybe take advantage and go for it, Tom.

Also, love the first ditty. I have actually heard that practice does not make perfect, but perfect practice does. Probably not so. And you could say, not only “that’s baseball”, but that’s life. Television, etc. allows us to see athletes perform at very high levels doing outrageously difficult things and we can develop pretty unrealistic expectations of others and ourselves. Like you say, “shi(f)t happens.”

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