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Old 08-05-2007, 10:50 PM   #41
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Default Re: 2007 Season Editions of Pirates Notebook

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07217/807104-63.stm

Pirates Notebook: Tracy covets clarity on Bonds

Sunday, August 05, 2007
By Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Pirates manager Jim Tracy expressed hope that there someday will be resolution to the steroids controversy that has engulfed Barry Bonds, if only so that Bonds' status as one of the game's greats can be clearer.

"The one thing I'd like to see is for everything to come out," Tracy said yesterday. "To have to sit there and hear this conversation about whether or not there should be an asterisk, I'd like to see that go away. I've seen this player do some things that are uncanny. Absolutely uncanny."

Tracy went further in his praise for Bonds' ability.

"I haven't seen them all, obviously, but I've never seen a player have a greater impact on the lineup. As a manager, you're always aware of where he is, how many hitters there are until he comes up. And I've also never had a hitter where I thought to myself, every single time he comes up, 'He's going to hit a home run.' I don't know if I'll ever see another player like that."

He praised his defense, too, circa his days with the Pirates.

"People here in Pittsburgh will remember that this was a left fielder who played the position like a center fielder. He was amazing."

The Pirates have five games against Bonds and the Giants next week, a three-game weekend set in San Francisco and a doubleheader at PNC Park Aug. 13.

Bonds' view on Pirates


Bonds told the Associated Press the notion that his departure from the Pirates in 1992 has cursed the franchise is not true.

"Naw, I don't believe that at all," Bonds said. "They've got some good players who can do some things. They just never keep the players. That's been the downfall of Pittsburgh. We all wanted to stay. There just was no chance of us staying."

Osoria up, Bayliss down


The Pirates purchased the contract of right-handed reliever Franquelis Osoria from Class AAA Indianapolis and, to clear roster space, optioned reliever Jonah Bayliss back to Indianapolis.

Osoria, 26, was Indianapolis' closer most of the season, producing 11 saves, a 2.63 ERA, 33 strikeouts and 19 walks in 39 appearances. Tracy, who had Osoria in his bullpen while with the Los Angeles Dodgers, called him "a real sinker-baller."

That still leaves the Pirates with a 13-man pitching staff, one more than usual, and Tracy did not rule out that they could keep it that way for another week.

The bench is down to four players, and one of those, outfielder Xavier Nady, will not return to the starting lineup until Tuesday at the earliest because of a strained hamstring.

Wilson's focus


Shortstop Jack Wilson made clear yesterday that, although he has agreed to waive his limited no-trade clause if it meant getting dealt to the Detroit Tigers, his preference would be to remain in Pittsburgh if that does not happen.

"I love it here," he said. "I don't want anyone to think I don't."

Buried treasure


Wilson, 8 for 15 with a home run in the previous four games, was benched in favor of Cesar Izturis last night. Cincinnati started a left-hander, Bobby Livingston. "Just a day for Cesar," Tracy explained.

Jose Bautista played right field -- his first appearance at any position other than third base this season -- because Tracy wanted to get Jose Castillo into the lineup.

Tom Gorzelanny will make his first start today since July 25 in New York, where he developed shoulder stiffness. He pronounced the shoulder to be in excellent shape yesterday.

The Pirates assigned reliever Danny Moskos, their first-round draft pick in June, to short-season Class A State College. He had two scoreless outings with Bradenton of the Gulf Coast League.

Indianapolis catcher Humberto Cota, who opened the season with the Pirates, will miss the rest of the season after having surgery on his long-ailing left shoulder.
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Old 08-06-2007, 01:44 PM   #42
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Default Re: 2007 Season Editions of Pirates Notebook

http://post-gazette.com/pg/07218/807318-63.stm

Pirates Notebook: How might Bonds affect young starters?

Monday, August 06, 2007
By Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Remember Al Downing?

Most baseball fans do, and it has nothing to do with his 17 seasons in Major League Baseball or his being a 20-game winner in 1971. Rather he is, now and forever, the guy who gave up Hank Aaron's historic 715th home run April 8, 1974, as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

By next weekend, the Pirates could have someone in a similar category.

With Barry Bonds still a home run shy of breaking Aaron's 755, he has four home games against the Washington Nationals beginning tonight, then five against his former team, very much opening the possibility that someone in that span will be the poor soul whose gopher ball gets shown on ESPN Classic for the next few decades or so.

Pirates manager Jim Tracy's rotation for the three games in San Francisco -- which he was forced to reset after the rainout yesterday at PNC Park against the Cincinnati Reds -- will be Matt Morris, Tony Armas and Tom Gorzelanny. The pitchers for the Aug. 13 doubleheader at PNC Park will be Paul Maholm and Shane Youman.

Morris and Armas are veterans who probably have been through enough to handle it.

But the others?

Gorzelanny and Maholm are 25, each still in the formative stage of his career. Youman is 27, but a rookie.

"Yeah, if you're the one, you'll have to see it for many years to come," Maholm said. "But, for me, he's one of the best hitters in the game, and I take that as a challenge all by itself. I'm going to challenge him. If I give it up, I give it up. It wouldn't be the first home run he's hit."

He quickly added with a smile: "But, hopefully, it will happen before we get there. I know it'll be a big deal."

Gorzelanny, too, acknowledged already giving it thought, but ...

"We're going out there to win three games, not to worry about one guy," he said. "There's a lot of hoopla. We watch it, we hear it, and I'm sure we're all interested. But we're more interested in winning games. When he comes up, we're just going to try to get him out like all their other hitters."

And does he, like Maholm, plan to approach Bonds aggressively?

"I don't see any reason to pitch around him. You're better off going at him than putting him on."

For the record, here is how Bonds has fared against the Pirates' five starters facing San Francisco: He is 2 for 14 with two doubles vs. Morris, 5 for 10 with two doubles and two home runs vs. Armas, 1 for 2 with a double vs. Gorzelanny, and he never has faced Maholm or Youman.

The Nationals' starters against the Giants will be John Lannan, Mike Bacsik, Tim Redding and Joel Hanrahan.

Rain pushes game to Aug. 28


The Pirates and Reds, who never took the field yesterday once the rain began falling a half-hour before the scheduled first pitch, will make up the game as part of a doubleheader Aug. 28, beginning at 5:05 p.m.

Gorzelanny, who had been set to start for the first time since feeling shoulder stiffness July 25 in New York, will be pushed back to the Pirates' next game, tomorrow in Phoenix. Maholm and Armas will pitch the other two games of that series.

Tickets for the game yesterday can be used for any remaining home games other than the SkyBlast dates, Aug. 16-18.

Littlefield: Still active

General manager Dave Littlefield does not discuss potential personnel moves, so he is not about to shed light on the ongoing talks with the Detroit Tigers regarding shortstop Jack Wilson.

But he did acknowledge yesterday, in a general sense, that he has remained active in talks beyond the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline.

"We're trying to get better, and we're continuing to work to make that happen," he said.

Asked if that is more difficult now, given that players must clear waivers to be dealt, Littlefield replied: "It's more challenging, but it's doable. Teams make trades in August."

The best trade of Littlefield's career came in August, the one that netted Jason Bay and Oliver Perez from the San Diego Padres for Brian Giles on Aug. 26, 2003.

Buried treasure

Outfielder Xavier Nady did more running to test his strained left hamstring but reported negligible progress. It is far from certain that he will rejoin the lineup tomorrow.

Outfielder Chris Duffy, rehabilitating a sprained left ankle in Bradenton, Fla., has resumed baseball-related activity, Littlefield said. There remains no timetable for Zach Duke, also in Bradenton because of a sore left elbow, to throw off a mound.

MLB commissioner Bud Selig will not attend Bonds' games tonight through Wednesday, but there is a chance he will be in San Francisco after that, including the series with the Pirates.
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Old 08-08-2007, 07:51 AM   #43
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Default Re: 2007 Season Editions of Pirates Notebook

http://post-gazette.com/pg/07220/807659-63.stm

Pirates Notebook: Littlefield's price too high?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007
By Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


PHOENIX -- Dave Littlefield has a reputation for seeking sky-high prices in trades and, as a result, turning off those with whom he is trying to deal.

The Pirates' general manager often has rejected the charge, but two recent events lend it some credence, each involving a potential move for shortstop Jack Wilson ...

First, Toronto expressed interest in upgrading over Royce Clayton, even if that meant waiting until after the season. The Pirates and Blue Jays spoke in July and, as multiple sources confirmed, Littlefield asked for third baseman Troy Glaus, Toronto's premier power hitter, in return.

One of those sources yesterday revealed that J.P. Ricciardi, the Blue Jays' general manager, was so taken aback by the proposal that he immediately tuned out regarding Wilson.

That might explain why Ricciardi, on July 23, took the unusual step of mentioning another team's player publicly when he told the Canadian Press, "We have absolutely no interest in Jack Wilson. None."

Clayton, by the way, was released yesterday.

Next came the Detroit Tigers, who, unlike Toronto, offered to take on all of Wilson's contract that has $14.25 million guaranteed beyond this season.

The deal on the table at the July 31 non-waiver deadline would have netted the Pirates one of two 21-year-old pitchers, Jair Jurrjens or Dallas Trahern, and another prospect in the Detroit system. Littlefield apparently asked for a major-league player on top of that -- outfielder Craig Monroe was mentioned -- and the Tigers pulled back.

Still, talks are not dead, as the teams are believed to have had contact yesterday morning.

Jurrjens, in the meantime, is fresh off his two finest outings of the season for Class AA Erie and yesterday was named Eastern League player of the week after striking out 10 in a complete-game shutout. Overall, he is 6-5 with a 3.32 ERA, 90 strikeouts and 30 walks in 106 innings.

Such production at that age is superior to any pitcher at any level of the Pirates' system.

Wilson has been hot, too: In the six games since the July 31 non-waiver deadline, he is 11 for 20 with two home runs and seven RBIs.

Coincidence?

"You can look at it two ways," Wilson said yesterday. "If the Pirates are willing to trade me, then I'm going to go out there and show what I can do. If the Pirates aren't sure, I'm going to show why they should keep me."

Another national game?


The Pirates' Sept. 8 home game against the Chicago Cubs is being listed as a 3:55 p.m. nationally televised game for Fox on that network's Web site.

Officially, though, the first pitch remains set for 7:05 p.m., as no one has informed the Pirates of a switch.

Although Fox has the right to shift a limited number of games for its national broadcasts, the Pirates can be expected to resist this one because the University of Pittsburgh has a football game against Grambling at noon that day at Heinz Field. That could wreak havoc not only with traffic but also with staffing, as the two North Shore stadiums employ many of the same service workers.

Nady makes progress

Outfielder Xavier Nady finally showed progress with his strained left hamstring, but he still missed his fifth consecutive start.

He ran at Chase Field yesterday, and his sole limitation was some discomfort on the push-off. That, manager Jim Tracy said, was enough to keep him out because of the stadium's big gaps and fast turf that demands outfield speed.

"Over the next couple days, we could see him back in the lineup," Tracy said.

Chacon held out

Shawn Chacon did not appear as the eighth-inning setup man last night because of some minor stiffness in his neck. That problem flared early in the season, too, but it is not seen as serious.

Buried treasure


The Pirates still are going with an eight-man bullpen, though Tracy allowed that could change before the team gets to San Francisco for the weekend.

Funny how these things blossom: Two offseasons ago, the Pirates lost out to Arizona in free-agent bidding for outfielder Eric Byrnes, the Diamondbacks signing him to a one-year deal worth $2.2 million. Yesterday, with Byrnes having established himself as one of Arizona's top performers, he signed a three-year extension worth $30 million.

John Wasdin, a starter with Class AAA Indianapolis who had two stints with the Pirates this season, has been placed on the minor-league disabled list because of an unspecified injury.

Utilityman Matt Kata, designated for assignment last week, cleared waivers and joined Indianapolis.
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Old 08-09-2007, 06:36 PM   #44
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Default Re: 2007 Season Editions of Pirates Notebook

http://post-gazette.com/pg/07221/808135-63.stm

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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Old 08-10-2007, 08:35 PM   #45
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Default Re: 2007 Season Editions of Pirates Notebook

http://post-gazette.com/pg/07222/808458-63.stm

Pirates Notebook: Morris wary of Giants' ire

Friday, August 10, 2007
By Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


PHOENIX -- Matt Morris allows to feeling some apprehension about his return to San Francisco, where he will pitch against the Giants tonight, just 10 days after being traded to the Pirates.

"I've got mixed feelings, you know?" he said at Chase Field. "This whole week has been a lot of new stuff. Now, to go back there and face the old teammates ... it'll be a lot mentally."

More than one might think.

Morris has been made aware of some Giants being unhappy with comments he made to the Pittsburgh media the day of the trade, in which he said he was looking forward to "getting some better defense" with the Pirates and playing with "some young guys who are looking to play hard."

He said he felt the matter was being exaggerated.

"There's been some controversy with me, apparently, and I never wanted that to happen," Morris said. "I don't even know what was said, and I think they really blew it up into something that it's not. Now, I've got guys over there mad at me."

Asked what he meant when he compared the Pirates to the Giants, he replied, "It was a hard situation for me to comment on Pittsburgh, a team I didn't really know anything about except seeing them. I just got caught in limbo there. I didn't mean to stir anything up. But, obviously, it's going to come back and ... we'll see who reads the paper over there."

Nady to DL?

Outfielder Xavier Nady missed a seventh start and will miss another tonight, and he could be bound for the 15-day disabled list after a discouraging set of running tests yesterday showed no improvement in his strained left hamstring.

Manager Jim Tracy would not rule out the disabled list, noting that Nady had not appeared in a game since a pinch-hit appearance Saturday. That means his placement on the 15-day disabled list could be backdated until then and he would miss only an additional week.

"It's just not any better," Tracy said of the hamstring. "It's still not up to even 90 percent."

Nady's running tests involved various types of movements to simulate baseball situations. He completed all of them, but he never appeared able to take it full tilt.

The Pirates now are playing with a three-man bench, essentially, so a roster move could be imminent. First baseman-outfielder Brad Eldred, the only healthy minor-league position player on the 40-man roster, hit two home runs for Class AAA Indianapolis Wednesday.

Bautista back in outfield


Jose Bautista, the Pirates' third baseman most of the season, was in the outfield for the second time in three starts, this time in center. But Tracy cautioned against reading anything into that, saying he simply wanted to stack a right-handed lineup against Arizona left-hander Doug Davis.

"The last thing I want to do is feel like I'm bouncing Jose all over the place," Tracy said. "This is an isolated case."

Buried treasure


The Pirates signed their 35th-round draft pick, pitcher Tom Boleska. They have 27 of their 50 picks under contract and until Wednesday to sign anyone else.

Five State College players were named to the Class A New York-Penn League All-Star Game, to be played Tuesday. That includes left-handed starter Anthony Watson, 6-1 with a 2.77 ERA. The rest are first baseman Justin Byler, outfielders Austin McClune and Keanon Simon and catcher Nick Stillwagon.
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Old 08-11-2007, 03:02 PM   #46
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Default Re: 2007 Season Editions of Pirates Notebook

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07223/808709-63.stm

Pirates Notebook: Bonds doubts he will play in Pittsburgh

Saturday, August 11, 2007
By Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds probably will not play in Pittsburgh next week.

Major League Baseball's new home run king declined to do formal interviews yesterday before facing the Pirates, but he did say he thought it was unlikely he will appear in either game of the San Francisco Giants' doubleheader Monday at PNC Park.

The reason: Bonds is not expected to start this afternoon, but he should play tomorrow. After that, the Giants must make the five-hour flight to Pittsburgh, and that travel might prompt a full day off for Bonds.

The doubleheader Monday, a makeup of two April rainouts, is being squeezed into what had been an off-day for San Francisco, which has a game Tuesday night in Atlanta.

Despite what Bonds said, there is a chance he could play one of the two games in Pittsburgh, as the Giants are down to a three-man bench.

Bonds' absence would be bad news for the Pirates, who had been selling tickets for the doubleheader at a brisk pace because of his pending arrival. The team also has planned a video tribute to Bonds, to be shown a few minutes before the second game, and that doubtless would proceed whether or not he is in attendance.

Maholm, Youman fly early


There is ample precedent for pitchers missing games to fly to the next city a day early, and that is what the Pirates will do for Paul Maholm and Shane Youman, their pitchers in the doubleheader Monday.

Youman, who had been considered a long reliever the past few days despite not being used, pitched a lengthy bullpen session yesterday that ruled him out of any action until the Monday start. He will have been idle 10 days.

Nady makes appearance


Outfielder Xavier Nady appeared in the game last night as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning, effectively eliminating the chance the Pirates will place him on the 15-day disabled list because of his strained left hamstring.

He had been held out since a pinch-hit appearance last Saturday in an attempt to ensure he could be backdated to that point, if necessary.

Nady, still discouraged about the progress of the hamstring, expects to have it examined when the Pirates return to Pittsburgh next week.

Buried treasure


It seems far from certain that the Pirates will stay with Tony Armas in the rotation. With him pitching tonight and Youman Monday, those performances could loom large in deciding who is in or out.

The Pirates signed starter Victor Zambrano to a minor-league contract and had him pitch immediately for Class AAA Indianapolis last night. Zambrano, 33, went 0-2 with a 10.97 ERA in eight appearances with Toronto. The Blue Jays released him July 9.

Josh Phelps, a first baseman and catcher by trade, has been taking grounders at third base.
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Old 08-26-2007, 06:31 PM   #47
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Default Re: 2007 Season Editions of Pirates Notebook

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Pirates Notebook: Struggling Moskos taken out of game action
Sunday, August 26, 2007
By Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


HOUSTON -- The Pirates have taken reliever Danny Moskos, their first-round draft pick in June, out of game action in State College to address mechanical issues.

"It's not a big deal, and it's not a health issue at all," director of player development Brian Graham said. "He's rushing his delivery, and Wilson Alvarez wants to work on it with him, so he's just going to throw on the side for a few days."

Alvarez is the pitching coach at State College, the Pirates' short-season Class A affiliate.

Moskos has struggled in five relief appearances since being promoted to the Spikes from the rookie-level Gulf Coast League, posting a 5.68 ERA, with 11 hits and two walks in 61/3 innings. In his most recent outing Monday, he was replaced in mid-inning.

Torres back to disabled list

Reliever Salomon Torres was placed on the 15-day disabled list -- retroactive to Wednesday -- because of inflammation in the medial collateral ligament of his right elbow, the same injury that cost him a month in June and July.

He will see doctors tomorrow.

"I don't think it's as bad as before," Torres said.

To replace Torres, the Pirates promoted hard-throwing reliever Romulo Sanchez from Class AA Altoona for his first venture into Major League Baseball.

Sanchez, 23, had a 2.81 ERA in 40 appearances with the Curve, with 52 strikeouts and 17 walks.

Sanchez already was on the 40-man roster, but so were three other right-handed relievers at Class AAA Indianapolis -- Josh Sharpless, Jonah Bayliss and Brian Rogers -- all of whom were bypassed after performing poorly in Pittsburgh earlier this season.

Phelps trying outfield


Manager Jim Tracy, eager to get Josh Phelps' big bat into the lineup, has had him shagging flies in the outfield.

He considered using him there last night, as Jason Bay was being rested, but a talk between Tracy and Phelps revealed that "he once played a game in the outfield 11 years ago in Billings, Mont."

Still ...

"We want to get him involved, and we're working on it," Tracy said.

Phelps sounded cautiously excited about it after belting yet another home run last night.

"The one thing I understand is that I'm excelling in the role I'm in right now, and I can't lose sight of that," he said. "What I have to make sure is that, wherever they put me on the field, the pitcher on the mound has to have trust in me. That's only fair to the pitcher. I'll work very hard to do whatever they ask."

Buried treasure

Shane Youman's extended use Friday -- a 40-pitch side session and an unexpected two innings of relief -- cost him his start Tuesday in the doubleheader against the Cincinnati Reds. Instead, the Pirates will use Paul Maholm in the second game and bump up the rest of the rotation the next two days. The pitcher Friday night in Milwaukee is "to be announced," Tracy said.

Outfielder Xavier Nady ran yesterday and felt "a little better," Tracy said, and might start one of the games Tuesday.
Although the Pirates are touting Sanchez as a product of their Latin American scouting and development system, he originally was signed out of Venezuela by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2002 and spent two years at that team's Venezuelan academy before being released. The Pirates signed him later that year. The Pirates' most recent Latin American amateur signing to reach their major-league roster was Jose Castillo, signed in 1997.
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Old 08-26-2007, 06:31 PM   #48
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Default Re: 2007 Season Editions of Pirates Notebook

Nice move guys. He's already on the DL!!!!!
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