Sports Magazine

Brash And Bold : We All Saw This Coming: Mercer Gives Way to Kang at Shortstop

By Kipper @pghsportsforum

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle gave Jordy Mercer the weekend off by design, he said Sunday, so Mercer could try to work his way out of his slow offensive start to the season.
Mercer is hitting .176 with a .231 on-base percentage and .204 slugging percentage. Jung Ho Kang started for the fourth consecutive game, and the third time in a row at shortstop.
“We’re going to continue to revisit the best lineup that we can put out there daily,” Hurdle said. “We also know the dynamic of working with Jung Ho, playing time. We'll just see where it takes us.”
Mercer also hit poorly early in 2014. Through 31 games, his current total, in 2014, he was hitting .161/.204/.195. From the beginning of June 2014 on, he hit .278/.333/.433 with 11 home runs.
Kang is hitting .300 with a .367 OBP and .457 slugging percentage. Hurdle felt comfortable enough with Kang’s defense to start him behind A.J. Burnett, whose 56.3 percent groundball rate ranks eighth in Major League Baseball.
“I believe when you look at Jung Ho, the shortstop I'd probably compare him to would be a Jhonny Peralta-type,” Hurdle said. “Jordy has probably more lateral range. They're both very accurate with their arms. Jordy's got more experience within this league for positioning. The only way Jung Ho's going to get it is to continue to get out there and get those reps.”
Not only is Kang up to speed on the hand signals used to initiate defensive shifts, Hurdle said, but first-base coach Nick Leyva, who coordinates the infielders, has Kang’s defensive positioning notes translated into Korean.
Worley will skip start
The Pirates will skip Vance Worley in the rotation in the two-game series against the Minnesota Twins, which is sandwiched between two off days.
Worley was available out of the bullpen Saturday and Sunday after 12 innings and a short start from Jeff Locke Friday worked the bullpen hard.
Francisco Liriano will start Tuesday, on one extra day of rest and in Worley’s scheduled spot. Locke will start Wednesday on regular rest. Worley has not struck out a batter in two consecutive starts, lasted four innings in his most recent start, and has allowed eight runs – six earned – and 17 hits in nine innings during those past two starts.
The Pirates will have to add Charlie Morton to their rotation soon. Morton, who is making a rehabilitation start Tuesday, could return as early as Sunday, but likely will come back next week in a series against the Miami Marlins.
Interleague play begins
The Pirates begin a two-game interleague series Tuesday against the Twins at PNC Park. The Pirates are 15-8 at home in interleague games since 2013.
Bill Brink: bbrink@post-gazette.com and Twitter @BrinkPG.

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