Chris Archer to make Pirates debut Friday against Cardinals
Chris Archer said Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Neal Huntington wanted him to pitch Wednesday against the first-place Chicago Cubs, but the logistics of traveling from Tampa, Fla., to Pittsburgh did not permit it.
Instead, he will pitch Friday at PNC Park against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Archer, whose plane didn’t land in Pittsburgh until hours before Wednesday’s game, was a member of the Tampa Bay Rays as late as 3:57 p.m. Tuesday, Huntington said.
Huntington hoped to get his new pitcher on the mound as soon as possible, but Archer said the GM understood the circumstances. Rookie Nick Kingham started against the Cubs and allowed four runs in a 51-pitch first inning.
“He said ‘I want you on the mound against the Cubs. It’s important to us.’ ” Archer said in his first news conference as a Pirate.
“But at the same time, he understood all the moving pieces. My parents live in Florida, like three minutes away from me. Figuring out how they were going to get here, when they were going to get here.”
Archer said Huntington was accommodating.
“So just right away, them having compassion for the person and the human took precedent over anything on the field and that meant a lot,” he said. “They’re looking out for me, my parents, my family, my friends. So it’s been all about logistics and packing.”
Archer will wear No. 24 with the Pirates, even though he was No. 22 in Tampa. Out of respect for Andrew McCutchen, who wore No. 22 in Pittsburgh for nine seasons, Archer said he didn’t feel right taking the number.
“I didn’t want to take his number, especially without talking to him about it.
“He might not have an issue about it. But just out of respect for him, this is his first year away from the organization. That is his number. If I talk to him this offseason, because we’re friends, and he said he doesn’t mind, I’ll take it. But for at least this whole season, I don’t think anybody should wear that number.”
Archer said he already feels at home with the Pirates, getting hugs from Joe Musgrove and Felipe Vazquez when he walked into the clubhouse wearing an Antonio Brown jersey. He also received a welcoming ovation from the crowd in the first inning.
On Tuesday, starting pitchers Kingham, Musgrove, Chad Kuhl and Trevor Williams produced a short Twitter video in which they impersonated archers.
Further endearing himself to fans, Archer showed off his knowledge of Pirates history.
“I know one of the sayings for a long time here was ‘We Are Family,’ ” referring to the rallying cry of the 1979 World Series champion Pirates, “and I already feel like part of the family.”
He said he was impressed by what he called the “passion and joy” in Huntington’s voice when he welcomed him Tuesday with a phone call.
“That was the biggest relief after all the trade rumors,” Archer said. “These guys really want me.”