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Old 07-08-2007, 10:43 PM   #21
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Default Re: 2007 Season Editions of Pirates Notebook

http://post-gazette.com/pg/07189/800175-63.stm

Pirates Notebook: Paulino defends his defense

Sunday, July 08, 2007
By Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Perhaps no one on the Pirates' roster could benefit more than Ronny Paulino from the fresh-start feel that follows the All-Star break.

His average has plummeted from the .310 of his rookie year to .237 now, even after his first three-hit game of the season last night in the 7-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs. He has one home run in his past 50 games, he has four RBIs in the past six weeks, and his defense has, in the eyes of most observers, regressed.

Small wonder that, when asked yesterday to assess his first half, Paulino replied flatly, "I'm hoping to be better in the second."

He quickly amended that, though.

"It's just about the hitting, I think. Defensively, I feel like I'm doing much better than what I did last year. Hitting? That's been difficult. I feel like, with every at-bat, there's so much more pressure. It's like I'm trying to get three hits in one at-bat."

Paulino's view that he has improved behind the plate might be jarring to some, particularly those who have noticed his frequent drops on throws from the outfield. But he stood by it firmly when that specific subject was raised.

"The plays I've been getting have been bang-bang," Paulino said. "I know there have been some plays, but they've been close and, some of those times, I've been hit before I got the ball."

He maintained that his other facets all are upgraded.

"Everything," he said.

Paulino has five passed balls, on pace to match his 10 from last year. He has five errors, also on pace to match his 11 from last year. And he has thrown out 15 of 43 runners, a 35 percent rate that is slightly up from his 32 percent of last year.

His game-calling remains an apparent strength, the primary evidence for that being that pitchers have a 4.15 ERA when he catches, 5.75 when it is anyone else.

Paulino pointed to the team's 33-28 record when he catches.

"When I see that, I feel like I'm doing my job."

Manager Jim Tracy yesterday reiterated his fervent backing of Paulino.

"What that man did a year ago ... I'm sorry, but that wasn't an accident," Tracy said. "He's capable of revisiting that, and he's capable of being a very, very good catcher in the major leagues. It's his second year. You don't quit on people like that."

He expressed hope, too, that Paulino's output last night could resonate.

"I saw a lot better swings from Ronny tonight."

LaRoche a late scratch


First baseman Adam LaRoche was scratched shortly before the game because of lingering pain in his left knee, a problem he has had since the June 26-28 series in Miami.

He pushed himself through the afternoon batting practice to try to play, but he and Tracy agreed it was not a good idea.

"Adam gave it everything he had," Tracy said.

Tracy said no decision about today would be made until shortly before the game. One factor surely will be this: If LaRoche is off, he would have six consecutive days of rest -- including the All-Star break -- before the next series in Atlanta.

Asked last night if he might play today, LaRoche said, "We'll see then."

Duffy improving

Center fielder Chris Duffy, rehabilitating his sprained left ankle in Bradenton, Fla., has made good progress. The inflammation and bruising has gone down, and he has begun range-of-motion exercises.

He has no timetable to play in a minor-league game, so it still seems quite unlikely he will be able to come off the 15-day disabled list July 14, the first day he is eligible.

Pearce's big stage

First baseman Steve Pearce left the Class AA Altoona Curve yesterday to prepare for the Futures Game, 4 p.m. today at San Francisco's AT&T Park.

His final pre-break numbers: .334 average, .401 on-base percentage, 22 home runs, 24 doubles and 75 RBIs.

"Every year, there are one or two players who just jump up out of the pack, and Steve Pearce has done that," director of player development Brian Graham said.

The game will air on ESPN.

Buried treasure

Reliever Salomon Torres will make his second rehabilitation appearance today for Bradenton of the Gulf Coast League. He is scheduled to pitch one inning, but it could be two if he is efficient.

Xavier Nady was shifted to center field, largely to keep Ryan Doumit's hot bat in the lineup, Tracy said. Tracy added that he wants to see more of the switch-hitting Doumit from the right side. Doumit is batting .312 vs. left-handers, .292 vs. right-handers. All six of his home runs have come left-handed.

Yet another golden Saturday passed without a sellout, this crowd ending up at 33,293. There has been one sellout since the home opener, that coming June 16.
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Old 07-09-2007, 05:29 PM   #22
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Pirates Notebook: Sanchez rediscovers All-Star form in field

Monday, July 09, 2007
By Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


When Freddy Sanchez boarded a private plane last night to fly to San Francisco for the All-Star Game, he took along a bat that has delivered an inclining .296 average and a glove going in the same direction.

As Sanchez put it, "All around, I think things have gotten better."

That has been most evident with his offense.

His average was at .206 on April 29, but it has hovered steadily in the .280s or .290s since mid-May, largely because he has hit safely in 53 of his past 62 games.

Not the stuff of National League batting titles, but not bad.

The glove has been slower.

A sprained ligament in Sanchez's right knee, the result of a collision in spring training, cost him the opening week of the season and plenty of aches and limitations in his first month back. That, combined with being moved from third base to second for the first time in his career, brought a visible lack of range and fluidity in the field.

Now, as might have been best evidenced Thursday with his excellent stop of a grounder well to his left by the Milwaukee Brewers' Tony Graffanino, those issues seldom come up.

"No question, Freddy looks a lot more comfortable," manager Jim Tracy said. "He looks more sure of himself in going after the ball, in fielding the tough hops, even in going after those popups that are between him and the outfielder. And there's no question our double plays have been better."

The Pirates lead the National League with 99 double plays.

"Obviously, I wasn't able to get a lot of reps in the spring, so those reps came in the first month or two of the actual season," Sanchez said. "I feel like I've still got a lot of work to do at second base, but I also like the way our whole infield is coming together."

Doumit's hamstring ailing


Catcher Ryan Doumit was scratched yesterday because of discomfort in his left hamstring, the same one that cost him two-thirds of last season.

He was injured Saturday in the seventh inning while running from first to second base on a Ronny Paulino single. He wound up scoring on Jack Wilson's double and stayed in the game, but he later complained to the athletic trainers.

Yesterday morning, Tracy said, it was decided he should stay out for precautionary reasons.

"With it being the same hamstring, that sends up kind of a red flag," Tracy said. "We can't take a chance on damaging that thing again."

Doumit missed three stretches of last season because of the hamstring, including most of June, July and August when it was torn.

LaRoche's knee to linger?


First baseman Adam LaRoche was back in the lineup after his left knee "felt better," Tracy said, than when he was scratched Saturday night.

Tracy said the Pirates' medical staff has told him the knee trouble -- infrequent fluid buildup that began with the June 26-28 series in Miami -- has a chance to linger, but little chance to worsen.

"It's just something we've got to manage day to day," Tracy said.

Buried treasure

Reliever Salomon Torres pitched two scoreless innings -- one hit, three strikeouts -- in his second rehabilitation appearance for Bradenton of the Gulf Coast League. He will pitch a side session Wednesday at PNC Park. After that, general manager Dave Littlefield said, he will begin a rehabilitation assignment with Class AAA Indianapolis.

Littlefield said he is "getting closer" to contract terms with pitchers Daniel Moskos and Brian Friday, the Pirates' first- and third-round draft picks.

Altoona first baseman Steve Pearce, the top player in the Pirates' minor-league system this season, was 0 for 1 with a walk in two plate appearances in the Futures Game yesterday at San Francisco's AT&T Park. The Pirates' other representative, Class A Lynchburg pitcher Serguey Linares, did not play.
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Old 07-16-2007, 02:14 PM   #23
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Default Re: 2007 Season Editions of Pirates Notebook

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Pirates Notebook: Burnett avoids surgery

Friday, July 13, 2007
By Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Sean Burnett will avoid another surgery.

For now.

Burnett, the Pirates' first-round draft pick in 2000, and several doctors decided yesterday against a minor procedure to relieve some nerve discomfort in his once-again ailing left elbow. He will get a cortisone shot next week, then begin a throwing program in Bradenton, Fla., with an eye toward a return to Class AAA Indianapolis' rotation later this month.

"We'll see how it goes," Burnett said yesterday. "In the best case, everything will be just fine. The worst case is that I have surgery and still would be ready for spring training next year."

Burnett was examined Monday by Dr. James Andrews, the noted orthopedist, in Birmingham, Ala. Andrews backed the Pirates' medical opinion that there was no damage to the elbow ligament that was reconstructed in 2004.

But Andrews did find issues related to Burnett's radial nerve in that elbow and recommended that a nerve specialist examine him, which happened Wednesday.

The nerve was found to be slightly out of place, and minor surgery to relocate it was discussed. That would have kept Burnett out for two months and ended his season. But all concerned, including Burnett, agreed there was no point in taking that route now.

Burnett, 24, is 4-5 with a 4.48 ERA in 15 starts for Indianapolis.

Torres to return Monday


Reliever Salomon Torres flew to Rochester, N.Y., yesterday, where he will join Indianapolis for a rehabilitation stint tonight. If all goes well in two appearances over the weekend, he will rejoin the Pirates Monday for their home game against the Colorado Rockies.

Torres' side session Wednesday at PNC Park went "very, very well," according to manager Jim Tracy, and reminded pitching coach Jim Colborn of the dominant way Torres was throwing late last season.

Back in the groove


All of the Pirates except second baseman Freddy Sanchez -- given an extra day off after the All-Star Game -- participated in a light workout at PNC Park last night in advance of their game tonight in Atlanta.

Tracy spoke optimistically of extending that 9-4 run they took into the break.

"What makes that stretch of 13 games much more intriguing is the fact that we beat some very good clubs in the process," Tracy said.

The Pirates had not taken a series from a winning team until ending that run with victories against the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs.

"You just hope that we can get on the same kind of roll right away. And, given the manner in which we've been playing, I'm hopeful that can happen."

Buried treasure

Catcher/outfielder Ryan Doumit, who missed the final game before the break because of a sore left hamstring, participated in all drills last night. Tracy said more would be known about his playing status today.

The Pirates signed right-handed reliever Jose Paniagua to a minor-league contract. Paniagua, 34, made 270 appearances in the majors in 1996-2003 -- 4.49 ERA, 13 saves -- but he has played in Mexico the past three seasons.

Justin Vaclavik, a pitching prospect at Class AA Altoona, was placed on the minor-league disabled list because of a hyperextended left knee.

Bill Mazeroski and Ralph Kiner will be part of the ensemble on hand for the Pirates' retirement of Paul Waner's No. 11 July 21 at PNC Park. Mazeroski and Kiner are among the eight players already honored that way.
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Old 07-16-2007, 02:18 PM   #24
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Pirates Notebook: Francoeur's forecast for LaRoche looking fine

Saturday, July 14, 2007
By Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


ATLANTA -- When Adam LaRoche's offensive production was awful in April and miserable in May, the list of his doubters could have filled a scroll the height of Mount Washington.

Jeff Francoeur, his good friend, fishing partner and former teammate with Atlanta, most assuredly was not among them.

He had predicted great things for LaRoche back in spring training and, even when the Braves visited PNC Park in early May and the boos were mounting for the Pirates' first baseman, Francoeur told this to a reporter: "He will end up hitting .270 here with 25-30 bombs. I still swear by it. Adam's a heck of a player, and this city's lucky to have him."

Now that LaRoche's recent eruption has those numbers looking eminently attainable, Francoeur's smile was wider even than usual when the subject was raised yesterday during the Braves' batting practice.

"What did I say?" Francouer said. "And trust me: He's just getting started. You know you see some guys go hot-cold-hot-cold? Not Adam. When he gets locked in, he stays that way for a good bit."

The two speak often, and they did so again yesterday.

"I'm so happy for him right now," Francoeur said. "He's relaxed finally. He's enjoying playing in Pittsburgh. Not that he wasn't before, but he's really enjoying it now. I think he realizes that, hopefully, that city has some confidence in him now. When I was up there, people were saying stuff like, 'Y'all can have him back.' I guarantee you they're not saying that right now."

His painful first-inning error aside, LaRoche went 1 for 3 at the plate last night to raise his average to a season-high .240. He has 13 home runs and 51 RBIs.

Doumit out two more

Catcher/outfielder Ryan Doumit, still limited by a sore left hamstring, will not rejoin the Pirates' lineup until tomorrow at the earliest, manager Jim Tracy said yesterday.

Tracy described the hamstring as progressing but said the team continues to be "a little guarded," given that the same hamstring cost Doumit two-thirds of last season. Doumit is running at about three-quarters strength and, until that improves, he will not catch, play right field or run the bases.

He was available to pinch-hit, though.

Buried treasure

Reliever Salomon Torres pitched 11/3 scoreless innings -- one hit, three strikeouts, 14 of 21 pitches for strikes -- in his first rehabilitation appearance with Class AAA Indianapolis last night in Rochester, N.Y. He entered with two men on and two out in the sixth inning and got a groundout, then returned for the seventh. Torres is expected to make one more outing this weekend, then rejoin the Pirates on Monday.

The Pirates signed shortstop Brian Friday, their third-round draft pick, raising their total of signees to 25.

The Pirates were one of seven teams in Major League Baseball with three 50-RBI players at the break: LaRoche, Jason Bay, Xavier Nady. The Pirates' media relations staff determined that the team has not had that many since 1960, when the trio was Roberto Clemente, Bob Skinner and Dick Stuart.

The Colorado Rockies' rotation for the next series: Taylor Buchholz, Josh Fogg and Jeff Francis. It will be Fogg's first game appearance in Pittsburgh since the Pirates cut him loose in 2005.
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Old 07-16-2007, 02:19 PM   #25
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Default Re: 2007 Season Editions of Pirates Notebook

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Pirates Notebook: Maholm tilts starters' scale

Sunday, July 15, 2007
By Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


ATLANTA -- Look at Paul Maholm as the swing vote.

When he pitches as well as he has in his past nine starts, the Pirates' rotation goes from having two steady contributors in Ian Snell and Tom Gorzelanny to a majority of three.

And if those three guys win more often than they lose ...

"It makes a big difference," manager Jim Tracy said. "A huge difference."

"It gives our whole team a better chance to be more successful," Maholm said. "For me to go out there and give the team seven or eight innings, I think it's kind of solidified the rotation a little more."

Maholm, the starter in the series finale today with the Atlanta Braves, was 2-6 with a 5.82 ERA through his first nine starts.

In the next nine, he has gone a still unflattering 3-5, but he has averaged seven innings per outing with a 3.84 ERA.

And the key, according to all concerned, has been a simple steadying of his delivery, with an emphasis on not leaning toward the batter when releasing his pitch.

"If you looked at my film before and after, I don't think you'd see a lot," Maholm said. "It's more a matter of comfort and rhythm. Initially, when things weren't going well, I kept trying to tweak stuff and figure out what I was doing before. Now, I'm just working a little quicker, throwing sinkers for strikes and watching the defense make the plays. It feels good and, honestly, this is what I expected from myself all along."

Part of the challenge was ignoring the statistics that show him on a 20-loss pace.

"I think the record's a little deceiving," Maholm said of being 5-11.

"I feel like I've had some great starts where the results just weren't there, or where there was maybe one pitch that could have made it be a totally different game. I just tried to keep competing."

Maybe this number will mean something: Maholm's career record after the All-Star break is 8-3.

Doumit back today

Ryan Doumit will catch today, marking his first start since his left hamstring was tweaked eight days ago at PNC Park.

"I'm good," he said of his health. "Really good."

Lincoln eyeing spring

Starter Brad Lincoln, the Pirates' first-round draft pick in 2006 who had reconstructive elbow surgery in April, has had no rehabilitation setbacks and remains on pace to take the mound for the first time in spring training and pitch next summer. Lincoln will not begin throwing until this fall.

Buried treasure

The Pirates have yet to respond to reliever Shawn Chacon's request to discuss a contract extension.

Atlanta management would seek nothing less than an impact-caliber young pitcher in exchange for promising catcher/first baseman Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The Pirates are among several teams to have inquired about him in the past month.

Bizarre moment of the day: As the Pirates were taking batting practice, the Turner Field sound system was blaring Donnie Iris' "Ah Leah."

First baseman Adam LaRoche might want to watch his stuff today. When the Pirates faced the Braves in a spring exhibition March 2 in Orlando, Fla., LaRoche allegedly took scissors to some of his former teammates' clothing. And speculation is swirling through the Atlanta clubhouse that revenge is in order.
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Old 07-16-2007, 02:22 PM   #26
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Default Re: 2007 Season Editions of Pirates Notebook

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Pirates Notebook: Bautista's gash lands him on DL

Monday, July 16, 2007
By Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


ATLANTA -- When Jose Bautista tried to steal third base Saturday night at Turner Field, his left palm caught the cleats of Atlanta's Chipper Jones, causing a deep, wide gash and heavy bleeding.

It brought a highly unusual sensation, too.

"I could feel the wind in my hand," Bautista said. "That's not a good feeling."

He might have felt worse yesterday upon learning that his cut was serious enough for the Pirates to place him on the 15-day disabled list. And he surely will feel worse still if, as expected, he is not ready to return until early August rather than when he is eligible July 31.

Bautista's stitches must remain in place for 10 days, and he is forbidden any activity with the hand for the first five of those days. From there, he must show he can swing a bat through a minor-league rehabilitation, and the positioning of the cut could make that a challenge.

"That's my bottom hand on the swing, so it's going to take some stress," Bautista said.

There were three other roster moves on the day: Reliever Salomon Torres was reinstated from the 15-day disabled list, the contract of utilityman Don Kelly of Mt. Lebanon was purchased from Class AAA Indianapolis, and reliever John Wasdin was designated for assignment.

Jose Castillo, who has languished on the bench most of the season, will take Bautista's place at third base.

"This is his opportunity," manager Jim Tracy said. "This is what he's here for."

Tracy apparently gave no consideration to switching his infield as it was last season, with Castillo at second base and Freddy Sanchez at third.

"There's no question he can play the position," Tracy said of Castillo. "He's shown us that more than once this year."

Castillo made one throwing error yesterday that led to an Atlanta run, but he also turned in a superb diving stop on a Jarrod Saltalamacchia bouncer down the line.

Torres a 'good soldier'

Torres, who recently demanded a trade and accused general manager Dave Littlefield of deceiving him in contract talks, sounded eager to set all that aside upon rejoining the team yesterday.

"I'm going to be a good soldier right now," Torres said. "If they treat me fairly, I'm going to do the same with them. Let's see how it goes."

Torres spoke by phone with Littlefield during his rehabilitation time in Bradenton, Fla., and that apparently was enough for now.

"I just want to focus on being here, having my arm feel great and helping my team," he said. "I was going crazy on that rehab, and I'm so happy to be back. I'm not here to start controversy."

Torres was placed on the disabled list June 9 because of severe inflammation in a right elbow ligament. Management mapped out a rehabilitation plan that could have taken until the end of July, but he made three exemplary minor-league appearances, and a fourth that was scheduled with Indianapolis yesterday was scrapped.

He pitched for the first time since June 8 yesterday, giving up a run in the seventh inning. He retired his first two batters, but two walks and a Jeff Francouer single followed. Only nine of his 21 pitches were strikes.

Buyer or seller?


Littlefield put the onus on the players, as he invariably does, in determining whether he will be a buyer or seller at the July 31 trade deadline.

"We've got to have the current players achieve more," he said. "I think that's really what's going to drive us, for those players to show us what direction we're going. We've played much better the past couple of weeks, but we've got to do more to get closer to the playoff hunt. I think that will give us the direction we'll go."

Buried treasure


The Pirates have 10 days to trade, waive or release Wasdin. He had a 5.95 ERA in 12 appearances, and opponents were batting .381 against him.

Kelly, back for a second stint, was removed from the 40-man roster June 12 before being demoted to Indianapolis. He batted .218 -- 12 for 55 -- in 18 games there, but he was summoned for his defense and versatility.

The 40-man roster remained full.
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Old 07-17-2007, 10:58 PM   #27
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Pirates Notebook: McLouth capitalizes on chances

Tuesday, July 17, 2007
By Paul Meyer, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


One upside to center fielder Chris Duffy being on the disabled list is that Nate McLouth is getting more playing time.

"He's getting an opportunity to lock himself in [at the plate] a little bit," manager Jim Tracy said.

And it seems McLouth is capitalizing on this.

Entering the game last night, McLouth had a .300 batting average in 14 games hitting in the leadoff spot.

"When he does get on first base, things happen for the middle of our order," Tracy said. "He's not afraid to steal a base."

McLouth also has been the Pirates' most-used pinch-hitter. In that role, he's 6 for 37 with a home run and two RBIs.

That's a tough job for a relatively young player who's in just his second full major-league season.

"I don't care if you're a young player or an old player, it's a difficult role," McLouth said. "The mentality's totally different [than starting]. If you're starting, it's a lot easier to be more comfortable because if you don't get it done your first at-bat, you have three or four more after that to get it done."

The key to pinch-hitting successfully is to not necessarily think about getting a hit.

"But to try to get a good pitch to hit," McLouth said. "You're not going to get a hit every time. You're not even going to get a hit most of the time. The biggest thing I've learned is to not go up there with the mentality that I have to get a hit because this is my only chance.

"With more experience comes a better comfort level."

Duffy in Florida


Duffy, on the disabled list because of a sprained left ankle, continues to rehab in Bradenton, Fla. He's doing some throwing but no running. It appears he won't return until at least early August.

"It's going to take a while," Tracy said.

Fogg's foursome


Josh Fogg, scheduled to start for Colorado tonight, doesn't have impressive stats -- 4-6 record, 5.36 earned run average. But he has picked up his four victories against the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and New York Mets (twice).

Morgan to speak at PNC Park


Hall of Famer Joe Morgan will be the guest speaker at the Pirates' African American Heritage Day luncheon Aug. 3. The event, held in the Lexus Club at PNC Park, begins at 11:30 a.m.

No fear


The Rockies have no fear of Friday the 13th. They won in Milwaukee Friday night to stretch their winning streak on Friday the 13ths to six consecutive games.

Uneven Keel

Jared Keel, the Pirates' 31st-round pick in the 2006 draft, has been on a tear with Class A Hickory.

In the past 10 games, Keel has hit .351 with four home runs and nine RBIs. That raised his season marks to .293, 14 and 45.

"He was intriguing in spring training," said Tony Beasley, the Pirates' minor-league infielder coordinator. "He swung the bat well in spring training. He needs some work defensively. There's no doubt about that. He's got some bad habits that he's kind of grown into. Those are things through repetition we can break."

Keel, who played third base last season, has been used at first base, in the outfield and as a designated hitter this season. He has 17 errors.

"I think now that he's swinging the bat well, he'll be more open to defensive stuff," Beasley said. "Now he feels that, 'I'm somebody. I'm swinging the bat. If I can get the other side right, then I might have a chance to really do something in the organization."'

Taking a seat


Highly regarded shortstop Angel Gonzalez, who began this season with Hickory, was promoted to high Class A Lynchburg in early June, but he hasn't played much for the Hillcats.

Gonzalez has a sore shoulder and has played in only one game since June 16.

Need for speed


Lynchburg outfielder Pedro Powell continues to lead the Carolina League in stolen bases with 42 (in 53 attempts). Powell led the league with 63 stolen bases last season and is trying to become just the second player in league history to lead the league in back-to-back seasons. Jack Mitchell led the league in 1952-53.
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Old 07-21-2007, 12:07 AM   #28
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Pirates Notebook: Snell calls Rockies to apologize

Saturday, July 21, 2007
By Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Ian Snell, with no apparent push from the Pirates, phoned Colorado manager Clint Hurdle to apologize for publicly threatening retaliation against the Rockies for stealing signs Wednesday at PNC Park.

But that might not be enough.

Bob Watson, Major League Baseball's vice president responsible for discipline, has recommended a punishment -- a suspension or fine -- for Snell. That could be announced this weekend.

"The whole thing got out of hand," Snell said yesterday. "And that's what I told Hurdle. Someone told me something after the game, and I reacted. I wanted him to tell his whole team that I'm sorry. ... It's good. It's over with."

After that 5-3 loss, Snell accused one of the Rockies -- he never gave a name -- of stealing signs before one of their two home runs. He mentioned Brad Hawpe's home run that day, but it turns out the one in question was hit later by Todd Helton with Kazuo Matsui on second base.

Among Snell's comments after that game: "Hopefully, I won't pitch in Colorado because I know who it is, and I will get them."

That was a reference to the Pirates' Aug. 20-23 series in Denver.

Snell also said, referring to the player he was accusing, that he would "kill that dude."

Snell heard from his father the next day about the matter, and it was then that he arranged a call to Hurdle at the Rockies' hotel in Washington.

Of Snell's apology, Hurdle told reporters in Washington, "I thought it was very appropriate."

Van Benschoten skipped


Manager Jim Tracy announced that John Van Benschoten will skip his next scheduled start, Sunday, and get pushed back to Friday in Philadelphia. Shane Youman will be bumped forward a day to pitch Sunday.

That move, Tracy said, will afford Van Benschoten three side sessions under pitching coach Jim Colborn to address a mechanical flaw in the movement of his hips that has contributed to his erratic command, as well as an 0-4 record and 8.17 ERA.

"I've been leaning too far forward," Van Benschoten said.

Buried treasure

Pitcher John Wasdin, designated for assignment Sunday, cleared waivers and started for Class AAA Indianapolis last night.

The ceremony to retire Paul Waner's No. 11 will begin at 7 p.m., and participants will include two others to have their numbers retired by the Pirates: Ralph Kiner and Bill Mazeroski. It will be the first number retired since 1987, the 10th overall.

Matt Kata's start at third base was his first at any position since the Pirates purchased his contract from Class AAA Indianapolis June 30.
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Old 07-23-2007, 11:29 PM   #29
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Default Re: 2007 Season Editions of Pirates Notebook

http://post-gazette.com/pg/07204/803756-63.stm

Pirates Notebook: Inquiry about Glaus spurned

Monday, July 23, 2007
By Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Talk about aiming high.

The Pirates, in preliminary talks with Toronto regarding shortstop Jack Wilson, inquired about the Blue Jays' power-hitting third baseman, Troy Glaus, according to two sources intimately familiar with the matter.

Yes, the same Troy Glaus who is due $12.75 million next year -- plus an $11.25 million player option for 2009 -- and has a universal no-trade clause that was included in his contract largely because of his long-standing wish to play on the West Coast.

The Pirates' inquiry was rejected, one of those sources said.

Toronto remains in playoff contention and, as previously revealed, its management is interested in Wilson as an offseason acquisition rather than in the short period leading up to Major League Baseball's July 31 trading deadline.

The Blue Jays are entertaining offers for Glaus, but only with the approach that they would have to be upgraded immediately.

Glaus, 30, has 272 home runs, including 15 this season in 74 games. He is batting .284 with 47 RBIs and a .382 on-base percentage.

Pirates general manager Dave Littlefield said yesterday that any trade he might make before the deadline likely would be akin to the Adam LaRoche-Mike Gonzalez deal, with neither a buyer nor seller component to it.

"It would be more like an offseason trade, where it's needs fitting needs," Littlefield said.

Asked what he saw as being his team's needs, he replied, "We need to score more runs, and we need better quality from the starting pitching. Now, we have internal candidates for the starting pitching, but we need better performance."

Torres' suitors shop Pena


The Boston Red Sox, the team seen as most interested in reliever Salomon Torres, is actively shopping enigmatic outfielder Wily Mo Pena.

Pena has exceptional power, with 66 career home runs at age 25, but is batting .202 and has struck out 12 times in his past 17 at-bats. He is making $1.8 million.

Mets unlikely for Castillo

Even though the New York Mets have lost second baseman Jose Valentin to a major injury, and even though the Pirates apparently have little use for Jose Castillo, the teams do not appear to be lining up for a trade.

Omar Minaya, New York's general manager, said his team will stick with youngster Ruben Gotay for now.

"I'm pretty sure teams are going to call me. I'm going to listen," Minaya told reporters in Los Angeles. "But we're comfortable with Gotay."

Kata over Castillo again


Castillo remained on the Pirates' bench in favor of Matt Kata at third base for a third consecutive game.

Manager Jim Tracy said Kata had earned the playing time after going 3 for 9 with two doubles and an RBI Friday and Saturday. He was 2 for 4 yesterday.

"Based on what he's done the past couple of days, he seems like a pretty good guy to put over there," Tracy said. "He's got a very professional air to him, carries himself like a big-league player."

Castillo was 4 for 18 after taking injured Jose Bautista's place at third in the past week.

Buried treasure


Cesar Izturis finally made his Pirates debut, spelling Wilson at shortstop and going 1 for 3 with a sixth-inning fielding gem in which he ranged to the right side of the infield for a putout. Tracy said Wilson will be back at shortstop tomorrow in New York.

Littlefield clarified that the player to be named later in the Izturis trade cannot be on the current 25-man roster or disabled list. The reason, he explained, is that such a player cannot have accrued any major-league service time from the time of the trade until that season ends. Being on the disabled list counts as service time.

Houston center fielder Hunter Pence, a favorite for National League rookie of the year with a .330 average, left the game after batting in the fourth inning because of a sprained right wrist.
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Old 07-23-2007, 11:35 PM   #30
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Default Re: 2007 Season Editions of Pirates Notebook

I'm liking Kata in relief of Bautista during his DL spell.

I'd like to see some more moves before the deadline, but I doubt we can get the starter relief we are looking for for Castillo...
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