MILWAUKEE -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle is impressed with the way Francisco Cervelli (Cisco) has handled the transition from catcher to first base this season. Cervelli made his fourth start of the season at first on Sunday, as Pittsburgh wrapped up a three-game series with the Brewers at Miller Park."His
MILWAUKEE -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle is impressed with the way Francisco Cervelli (Cisco) has handled the transition from catcher to first base this season. Cervelli made his fourth start of the season at first on Sunday, as Pittsburgh wrapped up a three-game series with the Brewers at Miller Park.
"His awareness has been good, his adaptability has been good," Hurdle said. "I think he realizes a few more things can happen over there than he might have known about walking in the door."
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Hurdle knows it's not easy transitioning to first base. The Pirates' manager began his playing career as an outfielder in the Royals' organization, but with a week left in Spring Training in 1978, Kansas City shifted him to first base, where he started 49 games that season.
"It was hard," Hurdle admitted.
The biggest challenge for converted first basemen often comes from providing a reliable target for infielders' throws along with receiving those throws, especially if they're off-target or in the dirt.
"It comes with time and experience and reps," Hurdle said. "Every day in baseball, you'll see a coach either throwing balls or hitting fungos, short-hopping the first baseman.
With Cervelli at first, Hurdle started Elias Diaz (El Maracucho) behind the plate for the 54th time this season. Diaz entered Sunday hitting .286 with nine home runs, 29 RBIs and a .797 OPS in 74 games.
"It's an opportunity for us to take some shots at different pitchers for better matchups and do some different things to keep Diaz in the lineup to keep him plugged in as well," Hurdle said.
Josh Harrison (J Hay) was out of the lineup on Sunday after tweaking his left hamstring during the Pirates' win on Saturday night running from first to third on Colin Moran's (Redbeard) eighth-inning double.
Harrison appeared as a pinch-hitter in Sunday's game against the Brewers, popping out to Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar in foul territory.
The same hamstring had limited Harrison's availability over the last week. He went 1-for-3 with an RBI double and a walk on Saturday in his first start since Aug. 19.
"Some days it's there, some days it's not," Harrison said. "Everything was fine up to that point."
Crick returns to rubber
Kyle Crick (Cricky) went through another round of treatment on his sore back on Sunday morning, which led to his return to action in the series finale against Milwaukee. Crick threw a scoreless seventh inning, hitting one batter and striking out one.
Crick had not appeared in a game since taking a Kurt Suzuki line drive to the back in the eighth inning of the Pirates' loss to the Braves on Wednesday.
Andrew Wagner is a contributor to MLB.com based in Milwaukee.