Notes: Tracy not pushing panic button
Skipper believes slumping offense is capable of improving
CHICAGO -- The Pirates' offensive woes have been well-documented recently. The team carries a .238 batting average (14th in the National League) through the first 30 games of the season, including a .213 average with runners in scoring position.
Despite the offensive funk, however, manager Jim Tracy prefers to be a half-glass-full kind of guy, insisting he's not "frustrated" by the slumbering bats.
"I want to use the term -- not 'frustration,'" Tracy said, "But that the consistency of our offense [needs] to show up. Where there's ebb and flow to our offense? There's more than one offensive chance to do something.
"The runs we're scoring right now are the runs we need to get back in the game. But when you look up and you're into the seventh inning of the game and you've got nine outs left to play and you find yourself three and four runs down, you've got to hit your way back into those games. You've got to do it. But I think there's another level offensively that we're more than capable of getting to, and quite frankly, we have to get to."
Tracy admits the ineptitude of the offense puts a strain on the pitching, especially the bullpen, although he's making the pitchers culpable for their mistakes as well.
"There's no room for error," he said. "It's got to be a zero. You're playing on the road; it's got to be a zero. But we're capable of that, too."
"We're talking a lot about the offense. Pitching-wise, we have to pick it up a notch. To sit here and say we're doing as well, pitching-wise, right now as we were doing, let's say, in the first 12 or 15 games of the year, that's not true either."
Capps appeals: Reliever Matt Capps has appealed the four-game suspension handed down from Major League Baseball after his ejection for throwing at Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder in Saturday's game in Milwaukee.
"He was given four; he's appealed it," Tracy stated. "We'll go through that process. He will state his case. Obviously, MLB will hear the case, and there will be a decision."
Tracy said he had no idea when the case would be heard by MLB. He did, however, reiterate his belief that Capps did not throw intentionally at Fielder.
Little brother gets the call: First baseman Adam LaRoche was oozing with pride and praise as he discussed his younger brother, Andy, getting the call from Triple-A Las Vegas to join the Dodgers on Sunday.
"I promise you I was more excited than he was," LaRoche said. "Anytime your little brother does something ... I'm just so proud of him.
"I called Andy and it took him about five minutes to tell me he got called up. And I should've known. You talk to him for thirty seconds usually and that's about it. He never has much to say, and he was just rappin' for 10 minutes, so I knew something was going on."
Andy picked up his first-big league hit, a ground-rule double, on Sunday in Atlanta, where Adam achieved the same feat for the Braves in 2004.
Down on the farm: Behind seven innings of shutout pitching from John Van Benschoten, Triple-A Indianapolis blanked Syracuse, 3-0, on Monday. He improved his record to 2-2 and lowered his ERA to 1.93 by allowing four hits and three walks while striking out six. Yurendell DeCaster raised his batting average to .348 by going 4-for-4. . . . It was a night of shutouts, as Double-A Altoona whitewashed Erie, 2-0, behind seven innings and 10 strikeouts from Luis Munoz. Prized prospect Andrew McCutchen went 1-for-4 and continues to struggle with a .190 average on the season.
Up next: Left-hander Tom Gorzelanny (4-1, 2.97) will go for his fifth win of the season in an 8:05 p.m. ET contest on Wednesday at Wrigley Field. Right-hander Jason Marquis (4-1, 2.09) will start for the Cubs.
Kerry Walls is a contributor to MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.