© Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

Neal Huntington On Injuries To The Pitching Staff, Sign Stealing In Baseball

The Pirates GM discussed juggling this pitching staff with all the injuries and teams being accused of stealing signs across the league

June 16, 2019 - 1:49 pm

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) - Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington joins Greg Brown for his weekly radio show and they get the conversation started a day after the Pirates had their 12th different pitcher this season make a start Saturday night when Dario Agrazal took the mound in Miami and Neal liked what he saw from Agrazal.

Stream MLB games now on fuboTV.

"Loved the way he competed, loved the way he mixed his pitches, kept the ball down and got a good amount of soft contact," said Huntington. "Did not look like a young man making his debut and threw the ball well. It's not his fault that we forced him to get seven outs in that inning and thought he threw the ball really well and gave us a chance to win a ballgame."

The Pirates sent Agrazal back to Triple-A prior to the game Sunday, but he will be near the top of the list if they need to call someone back up to make a spot start or join the rotation in the future.

"We felt comfortable going with him," said Huntington. "And yes, he'll go back down to Triple-A to stay in that rotation and be a phone call away to come up and either make a spot start, potentially earn his way into our rotation or earn his way into our bullpen as a multi-inning reliever."

The Pirates pitching staff is starting to finally get healthy and Neal Huntington is hopeful that this pitching staff will return to what it was expected to do prior to the start of this season. 

With Trevor Williams set to return from the injured list, the Pirates starting rotation is starting to take the shape of what many expected it to be at this point in the season.

"Mitch (Keller) will get that turn (on Tuesday)," said Huntington. "Now the challenge we have is we're going into a period after playing it feels like 50 games in 51 days, I don't think it's quite that bad, but it's 40-some games with 1 off day or 2 off days in that stretch. Now we're going into one of those scheduling quirks where we'll have 3 off days in 7 days so we'll juggle our rotation and with Jordan Lyles progressing well, Trevor Williams is progressing well, so looking forward to getting some of these guys back and as a result we will have to juggle the rotation, but we're looking forward to Mitch making a start here on Tuesday."

The Pirates will juggle the rotation over the next few weeks and some of the starting pitchers may get an extra off day given all the off days they have coming up.

Greg also asks Neal about a topic that is making its way around baseball of stealing signs after Los Angeles Dodgers' Closer Kenley Jansen was thought to have intentionally balked a runner from second to third so that they didn't have to worry about him stealing signs.

"There's a whole different level of sign stealing and team's have been accused of this for awhile now, this is not a new phenomena, although it was very active and very prominent in the postseason last year, going into the postseason last year," said Huntington. "But, for decades teams have been accused of relaying signs from second base and if the guy on second base figures out that the catcher is using a certain pattern to call fastballs, that's been a part of the game forever."

But, that is not what is concerning teams across the league at the current time.

"Where it's changing is team's are now, hypothetically anyway, using center field camera's to relay active signs from seeing the catcher sign, verbally relaying it to somebody in and around the dugout and that's verbally being relayed to hitter's...that's using technology which is illegal," said Huntington. "But, team's are being accused of not only using that, but they're also using center field camera's to recognize multiple signs, their using computer's then to pick up the patterns of those multiple signs so when that runner gets to second base, he knows that they use this set of signs, set of signs x, set of signs y or set of signs z. So, he goes and rather than try to figure it out on his own he's looking for one of three key indicators."

The act of stealing signs is nothing new, but the use of computers and the use of video is much more prominent now.  "Major League Baseball is hypersensitive to the illegal use of technology to steal signs" and are working to make sure team's are not using technology in this way.  Team's, like the Pirates, are working hard to counter it, but you also don't want to become paranoid because you think the opposing team is stealing signs.

Neal and Greg also discussed the dust up between Joe Musgrove and Josh Donaldson in Atlanta this past week, an update on the long list of injuries right now for the Pirates and how close everyone is to returning and early thoughts on the Pirates #1 draft pick Quinn Priester.

You can listen to the Neal Huntington Show every Sunday an hour before first pitch on 93.7 The Fan and the Pirates Radio Network.

Listen to the entire Neal Huntington Show Below: