Published November 20, 2014
The Pittsburgh Pirates are trying to fill a hole in their lineup with a player hoping to revive his career.
Pittsburgh's game against the Washington Nationals on Friday night was postponed due to rain, but the Pirates claimed infielder Brandon Wood off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels. Wood was formerly one of the game's top prospects, but has struggled mightily in the major leagues.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle likes the fact Wood can play multiple positions, and said he will give him the opportunity to "re-ignite the swing."
Friday's game will be made up at 7:05 p.m. Monday on what was a common off day for both teams. Each team will move their starting pitchers up a day and stay with the same rotation.
Pittsburgh's Jeff Karstens (1-0, 4.50) will face Livan Hernandez (2-1, 2.88) in what is now the series opener on Saturday.
With this and the rainouts in Baltimore and Minnesota, there have been 15 postponements in the majors this season, just six shy of the total for all of 2010, according to STATS LLC.
Wood was rated as baseball's No. 3 prospect by Baseball America in 2006 and was No. 8 the following year. At 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, Wood has displayed a power stroke that has had him hit .284 with 161 home runs in 764 minor-league games — including 43 in 2005 in Single-A. He also is known as a more-than-capable defender, having played mostly shortstop and third base over 173 games in the majors.
But his offense hasn't translated to the majors. A former first-round pick, Wood has played parts of the last five seasons with the Angels and has 11 home runs and 33 RBIs in 173 games. He's a career .168 hitter.
"I know things haven't really (transpired) the way he hoped," Hurdle said. "He's a solid defender. He can play three positions. His bat is the question. The opportunity, probably, with the Angels probably wasn't as long as he liked or what they would have liked to have given him.
"We'll give him time in the batter's box and see if we can help him make a difference, re-ignite the swing."
Hurdle said Wood would play regularly — likely at shortstop in lieu of the struggling Ronny Cedeno, who's hitting .170 with one extra-base hit in 53 at-bats. The Pirates' hope is that a change of scenery will do Wood good.
"Sometimes, something as simple as that can help," Hurdle said. "I'm sure I've had some players I've worn out that have probably looked for a different venue, a fresh start.
"One of the points I made to him when we talked on the phone was that whatever baggage you are carrying, let it go, because you have a whole new chalkboard to write on here. We're going to extend every opportunity we can to help him succeed."
Wood, who was 2 for 14 with a double in six games this season, was designated for assignment by the Angels on Wednesday.
The Pirates on Friday also recalled Pedro Ciriaco from Triple-A Indianapolis. Hurdle indicated that Ciriaco would only be with the team until Wood arrived, which is expected by the end of the weekend.
Acquired from Arizona in a trade last season, Ciriaco hit .143 with a homer in 49 Triple-A at-bats. He went 3 for 6 over eight games with the Pirates in September.
Pittsburgh designated infielder Josh Rodriguez for assignment. A Rule 5 pick from Cleveland, he now must be offered back to the Indians.
In addition to shortstop, Wood also is expected to see time at first and third base. Second-year third baseman Pedro Alvarez, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 draft, was hitting .177 before he went 3 for 4 with his first homer Thursday to raise his average to .212.
Each of Washington's three starters in the series has an ERA of under 3.50, a factor that has kept the Nationals (9-9) at .500 despite an offense that ranks next-to-last in the National League in batting average.
"Obviously, there are guys with talent in this rotation," said Jason Marquis, Sunday's starter. "I'm not going to say we're the Roy Halladays or the David Prices of the world, but we do have some good pitchers."
Notes: Washington will recall infielder Brian Bixler, a former Pirates player, before Saturday's game. Bixler was with the team Friday after he hit .326 in 14 games for Triple-A Syracuse. He hit .178 in 68 games with Pittsburgh in 2008-09. ... Washington manager Jim Riggleman said reliever Todd Coffey (thigh) will be activated from the disabled list Sunday when he's eligible, assuming he has no problems performing pregame running drills Saturday.