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Frazier over Newman at leadoff? Hurdle explains why


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Adam Frazier – MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

Adam Frazier exploded Monday night for four doubles against the Cubs, tied for the most since ... ever. In the history of MLB. Paul Waner did it most "recently" for the Pirates, collecting four two-base hits back in May of 1932. That year, Shanghai Express dominated the box office, grossing $3.7 million worldwide.

So yeah. That was a while ago.

And the rarity of Frazier's achievement is exactly why he'll bat first Tuesday night against the Cubs at PNC Park. Monday, Kevin Newman — who took over and thrived from the leadoff position — enjoyed a night off, giving Frazier the chance to prove himself in the position once more. Needless to say, he did. But with Newman returning, a decision had to be made. Do you stick with Frazier after that bonkers performance or do you go back to Mr. Steady, Newman, who just posted the longest hitting streak (19 games) by a Pirates rookie since 1900?

It seems like a tough choice, but to Clint Hurdle it wasn't.

At all.

"I didn't ask any analytics," Hurdle offered with a chuckle pregame during a media session at PNC Park. "I didn't. I'm just going to own this one: Good, bad, ugly, whatever."

That's that. A man puts up a historic night at the plate, and you ride the hot hand until it cools. Still, Hurdle acknowledged Frazier's struggles from the leadoff position earlier in the season, noting changes he was able to make Monday evening to bounce back.

"He got his swing off and was catching balls out front," Hurdle said. "I mean, he hit leadoff for two months and the OPS stayed under .700, so we moved him to eighth and actually his best month of OPS was June where we just finished. And then with Newman out, he's had the experience, so I pushed him back ... We'll see how it plays out again tonight."

Through the struggles earlier this season, Hurdle still saw improvements from Frazier that kept his faith alive, particularly on defense.

"I think he's worked very hard, [and] he's made some defensive improvements if you look at his defensive numbers across the board," Hurdle said. "He's showing up every day. It's not a huge split with left-handers, he gives you a good at-bat. I just felt he's one of our guys and you keep him in play and keep grinding with him."

Will that faith in Frazier be rewarded? Follow along as I join Matt Sunday live at PNC Park tonight for the full coverage of tonight's Pirates vs. Cubs matchup.

More highlights from Hurdle's session (full video below)

• On Chris Archer : "I don't try and overdramatize things. He came to us with an issue. You go to the people you need to see when an issue presents itself and you let it play itself out. So I'm glad he's able to make his next start. The fact that he wants to pitch and it's this team, yeah. I think it's good. He wouldn't be pitching if he didn't think he was capable."

• On maintaining composure all season: "I really believe we can be prepared for our future through our past if we've paid attention. If we've paid attention. And the one thing a club is going to look for when things aren't going well is leadership. That's when they're going to look for somebody to let them know things are going to be alright, or tell them why things are going to be alright and still not lower the bar.

"When you lower the bar, you lose the winners. You don't lower the bar when things don't go well to try to appease a small group. You raise the bar, you lose the losers. And that's what you're looking for. You keep the bar raised. And we've had that conversation out there multiple times. We're not going to back away from what we believe we can do, regardless of what comes in and out the door or regardless of what happens out on the field. That's just something I've learned in an extremely fascinating way over the years with different clubs, different opportunities."

• On Monday night's 18-run offensive showcase: "It's one of the better days that a Pittsburgh lineup has had in its history. And to watch our guys just continually go up there and maintain a focused and aggressive nature in the box and look for pitches and hunt pitches, and when they get 'em not miss 'em – yeah, there's a part of you that just has a real fun smile. And you're happy for them, because a lot of this game you don't get to experience things like that."

Full video:

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