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Pirates GM Ben Cherington Discusses Team’s Slump, Top Young Pitchers, Catchers and More

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Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Jared Jones warms up in the dugout during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Pittsburgh Pirates general manager was on 93.7 The Fan on Sunday for his weekly radio show and discussed a wide-range of topics.

Among the most pressing conversations involved the Pirates’ recent skid and top young pitchers Paul Skenes and Jared Jones.

Cherington also talked about Yasmani Grandal’s impending return and Endy Rodríguez’s outlook. Here is what the Pirates’ GM had to say.

On Slumping Offense:

“By and large, we’ve been really encouraged with the willingness to be patient, to wait for pitches, to see pitches, to grind at-bats and swing at strikes. Up until this tough stretch, we’re getting on base and taking our walks.

“What we haven’t seen quite yet consistently is jumping on that pitch that you can drive and get the extra-base and home run power … It feels like just a matter of time that will start start to happen.”

During the Pirates’ five-game losing streak, they have scored a combined eight runs. Over their last four games, the Pirates have three hits in 28 at-bats with runners in scoring position (.107 batting average).

On Suspect Defense:

“If I’m surprised by anything it’s probably from a team perspective, not any individual player but as a team, just total team defense has not been as tight as we thought it would be.”

Only five teams have committed more errors than the Pirates’ 15. They rank 29th in outs above average (-10) and tied for 29th in defensive runs saved (-9).

On Jared Jones Being Pulled After 59 Pitches vs. Mets

“The staff decided on their own that we’re gonna hold him a little bit short this time. It’s a long season and we want Jared Jones to be part of this for the long season. I really respect their decision.”

Jones needed 59 pitches to get through five spotless innings of one-hit ball. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out seven, but the Pirates ended up falling in New York.

On Managing Workloads for Jones and Paul Skenes

“What we’re working to do and trying to do everyday is be as thoughtful as we can based on all the information we have … and make the best decisions we can that put a pitcher in position to help the Pirates overtime win the most possible games. That’s the goal.”

In Triple-A Indianapolis, Skenes has yet to allow a run in 12.2 innings pitched and has struck out 27 of the 47 batters he’s faced. He has yet to throw more than 65 pitches in an outing.

On Yasmani Grandal

“He’s gonna play a little more in Indy into the coming week and we’re gonna get some more information on how he’s doing in the next week.”

“As we get closer to Yaz feeling like he’s ready for activation, which we anticipate is coming not too long from now, we’ll figure out what we think makes best sense for the team.”

Grandal has been on the injured list since the beginning of the season with plantar fasciitis.

On Chance of Endy Rodríguez Return This Year

“We haven’t made any total, firm decisions but it’s not something we’re expecting right now. If we get further into the calendar and all signs are pointing on that making sense then of course we can revisit. As of now we’re not expecting him to be in professional games during the regular season, although he’ doing really well.”

Rodríguez underwent Tommy John surgery in the offseason. In terms of his progression, left-handed hitting will come first, then throwing, then right-handed hitting.

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