Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Plenty of Preparation Needed to Size Up Latest Pitching Foes

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Plenty of Preparation Needed to Size Up Latest Pitching Foes

Article excerpt

DENVER -- The Pirates have faced a gauntlet of left-handed pitching since the All-Star break, with Saturday marking the sixth time in eight games they squared off against a southpaw.

By the end of the weekend, the Pirates will have seen left- handed starters in seven of nine games out of the break.

There are some obvious lineup decisions that can help manage the schedule quirk, but beyond that it's all about recreating spin in the batting cage and seeing the pitches.

"We did lot of prep at home with a lot of left-handed spin on the machines," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We still have the machine with us on the road so we're still able to recreate spin in a cage environment setting."

It's also just about making it through an at-bat or two to see what's coming.

"It's seeing the guys and seeing the pitches," Hurdle said. "The big thing that's always going to be with left-handers [is] that the focus more often than not needs to be able [to] block those balls off and hit them to the big part of the field, and hit them the opposite way."

The Pirates were stymied by Brett Anderson Friday night, getting just two hits in 61/3 innings.

"The challenge comes when you get a guy like Anderson who had really firm command and kept pounding the ball to inner third, to inner-off and then use that outside part on occasion," Hurdle said. "That's just a challenge whether it's right-handers or left- handers."

Another tool for players is to cue up video and see what went well or poorly the previous time against a specific pitcher.

"You can prep watching maybe previous at-bats against the pitcher," said third baseman Pedro Alvarez, who historically has better numbers against right-handers. "But there's nothing better than actually getting the experience and actually facing guys. We try to get ready as best as we can by watching films and doing the drills you can do to get ready for the game. …

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