Hurdle has faith in Cervelli's use of mound visits

April 20th, 2018

PHILADELPHIA -- On the right-field scoreboard directly across from manager Clint Hurdle's perch in the visitors' dugout at Citizens Bank Park, there's the new counter listing how many mound visits a team can make in a game.

Hurdle looks at the counter not with scorn. Instead, he views it as somewhat of a challenge.

"We're trying to find ways to run out of visits," Hurdle joked during his pregame manager's meeting on Friday afternoon before the Pirates took on the Phillies. "As soon as I heard about visits, I said we had to find a way to burn these up."

And because of that, Hurdle has also placed his faith in his catcher -- veteran -- to handle when a good time to use them will be.

"It's changed the dynamic somewhat," Hurdle admitted. "But very early on, I've let Francisco know that we trust him. If he wants to make a trip, look over and give us one of those [hand gestures] and just go."

Hurdle's free hand with Cervelli is based on the fact that the 11-year veteran has run enough pitching staffs and handled situations through the years that he knows when the right time to push that button can be. However, it is veterans who could have the biggest issue handling the new pace-of-play rule change which Major League Baseball brought into the game before this season for the very first time.

"It does take away from teams that have a very good catcher," said Hurdle, who did see limited time as a catcher -- 22 games -- briefly during his 10 seasons in the Major Leagues.

"We know it hurts those teams more because we watch games where  would go out and affect a Cardinals game [by controlling the tempo and pacing]. Cervelli does that frequently with our guys."

Hurdle also has confidence that there are going to be times when Cervelli and other veteran catchers are going to find ways to push the limits when the situation calls for it.

"As the game moves along, the trips lessen, there are different ways to work within the rules on it," Hurdle said. "The catcher can go out and he can absorb the 15 seconds to where he doesn't leave the mound. We've looked at different ways to leverage the situation somewhat. But it hasn't provided any challenges to this point."

Worth noting

• The Pirates have moved right-handed reliever A.J. Schugel's next rehabilitation start to Triple-A Indianapolis. Schugel threw a scoreless inning on Wednesday for Class A Advanced Bradenton in making his second rehab appearance. He has been sidelined since the end of Spring Training because of right shoulder discomfort. 

• Hurdle felt that 's previous starting experience has helped him in handling inherited runners and stranding them.

"Most of these guys, at some point, was a former starter," Hurdle said. "To have that switch flip for them, they know what it's like to leave a game with a few guys on base. You then know what it feels like for a guy to pick you up. It gives everyone a lift."