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Hurdle looking for left-handed batting practice pitcher

ATLANTA -- Today's baseball is often a matter of preparation-overload. Managers and their players pore over charts, metrics, digital streams -- maybe even horoscopes, for all anyone knows -- getting ready for a game.

Amid all this, one would think the Pirates would arrange to have a left-hander throw batting practice to them on days they are facing a southpaw -- such as the Braves' Alex Wood in Sunday's series finale.

Clint Hurdle has tried to fill that need.

"We've searched for one, but we haven't found a good fit yet," the Pirates' manager said. "There are plenty of guys who say they can do it, but getting out there and actually doing it, it's different."

Hurdle quickly added, "It's not as big a deal as you think. No, I don't think it's significant. The year [2007] we went to the World Series in Colorado, we didn't have a lefty batting practice pitcher."

It should be noted those 2007 Rockies went 20-21 against left-handed starters. Prior to taking on Wood, the Bucs were 3-4 against southpaws, but a bigger factor in that could have been getting rare looks at them -- 13 percent of the first 55 games -- as opposed to not seeing them at all pregame.

"Some guys like it, no doubt," Hurdle said of his players. "[Switch-hitter Neil] Walker has always been looking for one, and we've tried a few guys, just haven't found that fit yet."

Tommy Lasorda, a southpaw, would pitch batting practice to his Dodgers well into his 60s.

"[San Diego manager] Bud Black does it," said Hurdle, nodding. "[Reds manager] Bryan Price does it. I don't do it. I'm not left-handed."

Touching all the bases

• First: Gregory Polanco was not in the starting lineup on Sunday despite his 10-game hitting streak with the lefty going for Atlanta, but he may have had to sit this one out regardless with a slightly sore left knee he hurt returning to first base on a pickoff attempt Saturday night. Polanco was getting ice treatment and said he felt fine.

• Second: Andrew Lambo (plantar fasciitis) continues to rehab at Pirate City, but isn't yet at the point he could resume game action.

• Third: As Jeff Locke remains with one win in his last nine starts, veteran lefty Clayton Richard has a 2.08 ERA in his first five starts at Triple-A Indianapolis.

• Home: Nearly half of the Bucs' first 25 losses (11) have come in the opposition's last at-bat, eight of them walk-offs.

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast.
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