PITTSBURGH (KDKA 93-7 The Fan)- Pittsburgh Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington joined Greg Brown Sunday for his weekly show on The Fan. The Pirates entered Sunday’s double-header with the Yankees with a 17-24 record.

“We’re not playing well enough to be a playoff-caliber team right now,” Huntington said. “We’ve got to get some maturity back into our at-bats. We’ve got to play better defense behind our starters in particular and convert more balls into outs. And our starters have got to do a better job of working ahead in the count, owning the inner part of the plate. We’re just not playing very well.”

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Huntington said that his evaluation of the club is an ongoing process.

“We’re looking at how we can improve different elements of our game. And that’s the challenge. It’s not been one area that is a glaring weakness,” Huntington said. “Our bullpen hasn’t been non-productive. Our starters, while as a whole haven’t been as productive as we’d like them to be, there are some definite strong signs. And our offense really struggled in April, has begun to turn a corner in May, and if we can just put a few more pieces together in terms of just maturity in our at-bats, especially with runners in scoring position, then we’re going to be able to be more productive as an offense.”

Edinson Volquez was the losing pitcher Saturday versus the Yankees, allowing five earned runs on four home runs over 6 1-3 innings. Volquez has allowed at least three earned runs over each of his last four starts.

“With Edinson, continue to see the flashes of the three quality pitches, but as happened his last couple of starts, his mistakes have tended to get hit hard,” Huntington said.

Huntington gave an update on injured closer Jason Grilli. Huntington said that situation is different from last September, when the club could carry a larger roster.

“We may be a little bit more conservative to make sure that he is good to go back-to-back, and that he feels good coming out of the back-to-back. So, we’ll see how that plays out this week,” Huntington said.

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Huntington also gave an injury update on catcher Russell Martin.

“With Russ, it is literally day-to-day and how he is feeling. He’s put together a series of really good days and continues to advance,” Huntington said. “Hopefully, today will be another good day. We’ll see what he gets done work-wise tomorrow, and put our heads together on Tuesday and see where we feel is the best approach to go from there.”

Huntington and Brown also had a discussion about what can be done with the high number of Tommy John surgeries among young pitchers in the game.


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