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Old 08-09-2007, 07:36 PM   #44
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Default Re: 2007 Season Editions of Pirates Notebook

Pirates Notebook: Snell carries chip into start

Thursday, August 09, 2007
By Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

PHOENIX -- Ian Snell is irked, which usually is a good thing.

"I've got that chip," he said yesterday at his Chase Field stall. "And I know I'll have it with me."

He would not specify what had him foul in advance of his start tonight against the Arizona Diamondbacks, but he strongly suggested it was some form of public criticism that has him irritated.

Whatever the case, Snell might need a boulder on his shoulder to reverse his recent fortunes: He was 7-5 with a 2.93 ERA before the All-Star break, but has lost all five starts since then and put up an 8.31 ERA.

Asked if he has worked on anything since his most recent start, Snell replied simply, "Nope. Just going to pitch."

That approach might suit manager Jim Tracy just fine.

"He just needs to pitch like the Ian Snell we saw in the first half," Tracy said. "It could be very similar to what we just saw with Tom Gorzelanny. He got back to pitching. He got ahead of people, pitched to both sides of the plate and had everything going. Ian Snell is no different. When he's on, he's just as difficult to hit."

Progress in Bradenton

The Pirates' two rehabilitating players in Bradenton, Fla., starter Zach Duke and center fielder Chris Duffy, are close to game action.

Duke threw a bullpen session Tuesday and will have another today, a "very encouraging" sign for his sore left elbow," Tracy said.

Duffy has been cleared to run the bases on his sprained left ankle, and he could play in a game by week's end.

He begs to differ

At least one of the Pirates could convincingly dispute that Barry Bonds is the new home run king.

"That's Mr. Oh," reliever Masumi Kuwata said. "No question."

Sadaharu Oh, a Japanese legend who retired in 1980, hit 868 home runs in Kuwata's homeland.

"But Bonds is a great player, too," Kuwata added.

Bonds was asked about Oh during his news conference Tuesday in San Francisco, and he replied that Josh Gibson, late of the Negro Leagues' Pittsburgh Crawfords and Homestead Grays, should be mentioned, too.

"None of you ever talks about Josh Gibson," Bonds said.

Gibson had 224 official home runs, but estimates of his full professional career have counted more than 800.

Buried treasure

Outfielder Xavier Nady, who missed a sixth start to a strained left hamstring, could return tonight.

Reliever Shawn Chacon's stiff neck was deemed not serious, and he could resume regular activity soon.

The Sept. 8 home game against the Chicago Cubs will not be shifted to the afternoon, despite it being listed as a 3:55 p.m. start by Fox on its Web site. It will remain at 7:05 p.m., thus avoiding a conflict with a Pitt football game that day at noon at Heinz Field.

Steve Pearce, the Pirates' top power-hitting prospect, was moved from first base to right field for Class AAA Indianapolis' game last night in Louisville, Ky.

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