As part of a mailbag covering the floundering Pirates, Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic (subscription link) focuses on team higher-ups whose jobs could be in jeopardy. Biertempfel writes it’s “more likely” the club will fire pitching coach Ray Searage and maybe bullpen coach Euclides Rojas than either GM Neal Huntington or manager Clint Hurdle, at least during the season. Searage’s ouster would mark the end of what has been an oft-praised Pirates stint, but this season has been a rough go for their pitching staff. How much blame he should take for that is up for debate. As for Huntington and Hurdle, their jobs for 2020 aren’t etched in stone, suggests Biertempfel, who reports owner Bob Nutting would be willing to eat their salaries and fire them “if he is convinced that there is no hope of improvement in 2020.” With that in mind, the onus could be on Huntington and Hurdle to explain why they should keep their positions.
- More from Biertempfel, who dismisses the possibility of outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall playing for the Pirates this season. Chisenhall remains at home in Bradenton, Fla., mending from left calf troubles, and there won’t be enough time for him to return to the majors this year. It seems the $2.75MM the Pirates gave Chisenhall last offseason will go down as a wasted investment. By the time this season ends, injuries will have kept the former Indian out of 375 of a possible 486 regular-season games dating back to 2017.
- After missing the first four-plus months of the season with a flexor strain, Padres left-handed reliever Jose Castillo finally made his 2019 debut on Thursday. It didn’t go well, however. Castillo exited with an injury to the middle finger on his throwing hand, per AJ Cassavell of MLB.com. It’s fortunate that it isn’t another elbow problem for Castillo, though he still could end up heading back to the injured list because of this issue. The 23-year-old hasn’t gotten a chance to build on a superb rookie campaign in 2018, when he fired 38 1/3 innings of 3.29 ERA/2.64 FIP ball with 12.21 K/9 against 2.82 BB/9.
- Rehabbing Mariners righty Felix Hernandez threw two innings at the Single-A level Thursday, after which he told Julian A. Lopez of the Modesto Bee he feels ready to return to the majors. The Mariners have other plans, though – they want Hernandez to make two rehab appearances with Triple-A Tacoma before he finally goes back to the Seattle. Shoulder woes have kept the pending free agent from the M’s staff since May 11 in what could be the final season of his storied tenure with the franchise.