Pirates turn attention to fielding

Pirates turn attention to fielding

PITTSBURGH -- On Friday, the Pirates finally picked up their first home win of the season. Now it's on to shoring up that defense.

The Pirates come into Saturday's contest against the Reds with a National League-worst 16 errors. All 16 have been made by the infield, and they have resulted in seven unearned runs. Two of those were made in Friday's series-opening win.

With those errors, the Pirates' defense has now had at least one defensive gaffe in each of its past nine games.

So what gives?

"We've had a few plays where we've kind of forced the issue too much," manager John Russell said. "Some of the errors we've had guys out of position. A couple of the other ones were just careless."

Russell and his coaching staff have begun to address the defensive problems by summoning certain players to the field before batting practice for additional fielding work. The most notable example would be Luis Rivas, who has struggled in adapting to the shortstop position.

Rivas, who made his fourth error of the season on Friday, has been working to take better paths to the ball in order to have his feet in position to make accurate throws. Though he missed a throw from catcher Ryan Doumit on Thursday, Rivas, who was making his first start since Monday, did look more comfortable fielding ground balls than he had in his previous four starts at short.

"Moving our feet the right way or finishing the play off the right way, those are some of the things that we've been stressing since Spring Training," Russell said. "Those are things we continue to work on, but it doesn't correct itself overnight. We talk to the players to see what the player's thinking, and then we're going to try and correct it like we did with Luis."

Pirates pitchers have been responsible for four of the 16 errors. Rivas has made three, Jose Bautista has committed three and Freddy Sanchez has made two. Even the usually above-average fielders Adam LaRoche and Jack Wilson have each made an error.

"We have guys that are pretty good fielders," Russell said. "We've just run into a little bit of a rut on certain occasions. I don't see why we can't be a pretty good defensive club."

In comparison, the Reds have made just five errors so far this season.

Pitching matchup
PIT: RHP Ian Snell (1-0, 3.75 ERA)
Snell looked in midseason form his last time out, sealing his first win of the season while allowing just four hits and one earned run in six innings of work. He relied heavily on his curveball and fastball, and as a result, Snell fanned 10 Marlins hitters in the game. That total was one off his career high. Snell has not had the best of success versus the Reds in seven starts against the Cincinnati ballclub. Coming into Saturday's game, Snell is 2-4 with a 5.31 ERA against them.

CIN: RHP Bronson Arroyo (0-1, 5.91 ERA)
Arroyo's pitches were tattooed often during a 5-3 loss to the Phillies on Monday afternoon at Great American Ball Park. The right-hander allowed four home runs, two by Pat Burrell, during his 5 2/3 innings. Overall, he allowed five earned runs and nine hits without a walk and six strikeouts. In two starts vs. the Pirates last season, totaling 10 innings, Arroyo was 0-1 with a 6.30 ERA with four walks and six strikeouts. He is 1-3 with a 4.65 ERA in five career starts against Pittsburgh.

Russell said he expects Jason Bay to play in both games this weekend. "I talk to him a lot to see how he's feeling and he's actually feeling pretty good," Russell said. The Pittsburgh manager added that he may look to give Bay a day off during the upcoming six-game road trip. ... Asked if he had considered following the lead of the Brewers and Cardinals and batting his pitcher in the No. 8 hole, Russell said that with the makeup of his lineup, he doesn't envision buying into that strategy any time soon. ... With a hit in his first at-bat on Friday, Nate McLouth has now hit safely in all 10 games this season.

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On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

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Up next
• Sunday: Pirates (Tom Gorzelanny, 0-1, 10.80) vs. Reds (Johnny Cueto, 1-0, 2.03), 1:35 p.m. ET
• Monday: Pirates (Zach Duke, 0-0, 2.13) at Dodgers (Hiroki Kuroda, 1-1, 2.13), 10:10 p.m. ET
• Tuesday: Pirates (Matt Morris, 0-1, 5.25) at Dodgers (Esteban Loaiza, 0-2, 6.75), 10:10 p.m. ET

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.