Most of Pittsburgh will have its eyes on the Consol Energy Center tonight. That's fair, of course; the Penguins are an awesome team, and nights that Sidney Crosby takes the ice should be celebrated. That being said, I do want to point out that there's a really exciting series happening at PNC Park this weekend. Weird and frustrating trip to Miller Park aside, the Pirates have played good baseball early this season and now they're hosting one of the more exciting young teams in baseball — along with many people's pre-season NL favorites — in the Washington Nationals. People have noticed, too; tonight's game is the MLB.tv free game of the night and tomorrow's game is a national broadcast on FOX.
All of which is to say that I think you should keep an eye on the Pirates this weekend, even if you understandably want to watch some playoff hockey. As previously discussed, Jordy Mercer has been called up and Neil Walker is being put on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to the last time that he played (April 27th). It's awfully frustrating to have spent a week with a super-short bench, given Travis Snider's under-explained injury earlier in the week, only to have Walker end up on the disabled list anyway, but such is life, I suppose. Jose Contreras has also ended his rehab stint and joined the team, with Jared Hughes getting demoted to make room for him. Hughes has been somewhere between uneven and bad this year, so I'm happy to see Bryan Morris be allowed to stick around. I thought that Contreras's minor league deal this spring was just a novelty, but I'm not all that upset to see him on the roster. He was a pretty good reliever with the Phillies before needing Tommy John surgery in 2011, and he was absolutely dominant by almost all accounts on his rehab trip through the Pirates' system. Plus, coming back at 41 from Tommy John surgery is a great story. At the very least, the Pirates can give him a month in the 'pen to see how he looks, which will give Hughes time to straighten himself out or Vic Black a little more seasoning.
Tonight, AJ Burnett takes the mound against Ross Detwiler. The first pitch is at 7:05.