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Old 02-24-2007, 09:10 AM   #1
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Default Pirates Notebook: No extra workload for Torres


Pirates Notebook: No extra workload for Torres

Saturday, February 24, 2007
By Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Salomon Torres' plan to ensure early success in 2007 will not be nearly as complex as once thought.

Put simply, he needs to think about it.

And think hard.

Torres and manager Jim Tracy had a lengthy meeting last week to discuss Torres' new duties as closer and, more important, how he can avoid another sluggish first half. Last season, he had a 4.63 ERA before the All-Star break, 1.22 afterward. For his career, the numbers are 5.12 before the break, 3.53 afterward.

It is one thing for a setup man to start slow, quite another for a closer.

"It's just about preparing myself mentally, and that's what I told Jim Tracy," Torres said yesterday. "Maybe in the past when I came here, things were more relaxed for me. I knew what was expected, what my role would be, and that was my approach. This is different. I'm the closer now, and I know I need to be at my best at the start."

Tracy, his staff and advance scout Kent Tekulve, a former closer, had toyed with the idea of giving Torres a heavy workload in the spring. The reasoning: Torres thrives off such use, as evidenced by his 94 appearances last season that were most in Major League Baseball, and his sinker has better bite the more he pitches.

But the workload apparently will be nothing out of the norm.

"No, he's just going to pitch like he always would," Tracy said. "From listening to him, this is going to be much more about how he handles things mentally. That's how we'll go."

More rest for Nady

The expected return of outfielder Xavier Nady, hospitalized Tuesday through Thursday for a viral infection of the intestine, was delayed a day.

The Pirates loosely projected that he could return to camp yesterday and have limited activity, but the team and player opted to use the day for rest. General manager Dave Littlefield said Nady should return today.

Bayliss held back

Reliever Jonah Bayliss has been kept off the mound since Tuesday because of a strained quadriceps muscle in his left leg. He called it "no big deal" and predicted he could pitch over the weekend.

McCutchen exits early

Outfielder Andrew McCutchen, the Pirates' top prospect, left the workout because of gastritis. He also made an early exit Thursday. Littlefield described the ailment as "nothing serious" and suggested McCutchen would be back soon.

Buried treasure

Jose Castillo finally joined the major-leaguers for infield drills. He and Jose Hernandez switched off at third base, sharing the infield with Jack Wilson, Freddy Sanchez and Adam LaRoche.

Even though outfielder Jody Gerut still is not running, Littlefield said the Pirates' doctors have told him Gerut should be able to start the season. Gerut had knee surgery in late May.

Some of the Penguins' contingent had hoped to participate in batting practice with the Pirates this morning, but the plan was scrapped because of the timing and location of their practice.

Six pitchers threw to hitters, including Torres, John Grabow, Josh Sharpless and Masumi Kuwata.

Because Sanchez made contact with one of the six pitches he saw from Kuwata, he was peppered with 10 minutes of questioning by the Japanese media. "How were you able to get your bat on the ball?" one reporter asked in English.

The workout today begins at 9:50 a.m.

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Old 02-24-2007, 10:22 PM   #2
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Default Notebook: Pirates center fielder McCutchen not practicing


Notebook: Pirates center fielder McCutchen not practicing

Saturday, February 24, 2007

? Center fielder Andrew McCutchen, the Pirates' top prospect, did not practice Friday. Wearing street clothes, McCutchen showed up briefly at Pirate City before leaving to be examined by team doctors. "Stomach irritation," general manager Dave Littlefield said. "Nothing serious."

? Xavier Nady (intestinal inflammation) also skipped yesterday's workout after being released Thursday from a local hospital following a three-day stay. "We decided to give him another day (off), and he'll be back at it (today)," Littlefield said. Littlefield said Nady is taking medication, but he would not divulge specifics about the right fielder's diagnosis.

? Shortstop Javier Guzman (sore left knee) sat out practice for the second day in a row.

? After spending the past few days working with the minor leaguers, Jose Castillo worked at third base with starters Jack Wilson, Freddy Sanchez and Adam LaRoche. Jose Bautista was on Field 2, taking grounders at third with the minor leaguers.

? There are indications pitcher Serguey Linares might report to camp early next week. Linares, a Cuban defector, is in the Dominican Republic awaiting a work visa. A box full of equipment and personal items showed up two days ago at Linares' locker at McKenchnie Field. Also, Linares' name has begun popping up on the list of assignments for various drills during practice.


19 - Days Xavier Nady missed last season after undergoing an appendectomy.

.300 - Nady's batting average in 55 games with the Pirates last year.

-- Rob Biertempfel

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Old 04-28-2007, 12:51 PM   #3
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Default Pirates Notebook: Other closer options exist if 'spiral' continues


Pirates Notebook: Other closer options exist if 'spiral' continues

Saturday, April 28, 2007

By Dejan Kovacevic
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Pirates' unquestioned preference is for Salomon Torres to be their closer.

If he overcomes his recent struggles, as manager Jim Tracy made clear on the day Torres recorded a shaky seventh save, that makes for a bullpen with a reliable veteran in the anchor role, a young but highly dependable setup man in Matt Capps, and another youngster capable of late-inning work in Jonah Bayliss. With Shawn Chacon maybe working his way into the mix, too.

"It has the makings of something very special," Tracy said.

Which might best explain why Tracy is sticking by Torres despite three blown saves in 10 chances and an average of 1.9 walks and hits per inning that is third-highest among National League relievers.

At the same time, Tracy continues to qualify his support. And that might be because he is aware he has other, potentially attractive options.

"If things continue to spiral downward, you've got to look at the situation and see if there's a difference course of action we can take," Tracy said. "But we're not to that point. And I don't want to make it seem like I'm suggesting that that's where we're headed. Not today we're not."

Capps is the clear choice to replace Torres if it comes to that. He has swing-and-miss stuff and some of the best command in all of Major League Baseball. But Tracy stressed caution with Capps, 23, who is in his second full season.

"We've got to give ample time for a guy to say, 'Hey, that's my job,' or to force your hand," Tracy said. "And we've got to bear in mind that this guy who has been so successful the past couple seasons had pitched in all of four major-league games prior to 2006."

Capps and Bayliss are standing firmly behind Torres, but each also allows that he would welcome the opportunity to close someday.

Capps had 21 saves in his final season in the minors, 21 total for Class A Hickory and Class AA Altoona. Bayliss had 23 last season for Class AAA Indianapolis.

"Most guys in the bullpen, that's the role they eventually want," Capps said. "I feel like Salomon's done a good job. But, if that opportunity comes up, it's something I'll embrace."

"There's a real rush to it, something I feed off," Bayliss said. "It's something I'd love to do in the majors. But it's not even in my vision right now."

It also should not be forgotten that Chacon, another of the Pirates' best relievers so far, had 35 saves for the Colorado Rockies in 2004.

Nady out for weekend?

Outfielder Xavier Nady, still slowed by a strained left hamstring, did not return to the starting lineup last night, as had been the most optimistic projection. Tracy said he will be limited to bench duty for "a couple more days."

Nady did his first serious running yesterday, and his recent strength tests have been "very good," Tracy said.

Buried treasure

Ryan Doumit was shagging flies in right field before the game and could start there tonight against Cincinnati right-hander Matt Belisle. A catcher by trade, he spent almost all winter in the outfield in Mexico. "We're going to get him involved there," Tracy said.

Carlos Maldonado spent last September with the Pirates, but has fallen far: He was demoted yesterday from Indianapolis to Altoona, and this after disappointing management by reporting to spring training overweight. Einar Diaz and Milver Reyes are Indianapolis' catchers now.

Utilityman Don Kelly will throw out the first pitch for Brighton Heights' Little League opener at 12:25 p.m. today. The league's field was renovated by the Pirates and 84 Lumber in the offseason.

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Old 05-26-2007, 02:43 PM   #4
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Default Pirates Notebook: Weekend series looms as potential crossroads


Pirates Notebook: Weekend series looms as potential crossroads

Saturday, May 26, 2007
By Paul Meyer, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

CINCINNATI -- The Pirates arrived here early Thursday night none too fresh from having lost a fifth consecutive game in St. Louis.

They had slipped a season-low eight games under .500. They are a lot closer to last place than first in the National League Central Division.

With the Memorial Day milestone rapidly approaching, it would seem the Pirates have reached a crossroads in their season.

"I hadn't thought about it that way," left fielder Jason Bay said. "Our saving grace [previously] was that we were always close record-wise. It wasn't life and death [at the Memorial Day milestone]. There were still a ton of games to be played. But we're getting to the point now where we need to still be in striking distance and these four games are a part of that.

"It's tough to put that much pressure on one four-game series out of 162 games, but the offense was coming around and we were playing good and now we've kind of [slipped]."

Shortstop Jack Wilson took another tack.

"I'm the optimist around here," he said. "There's a lot of baseball left. We just finished the quarter mark [at 19-22]. If you have three good quarters out of four, you're going to be in good shape.

"Obviously, we don't want to put ourselves in too deep a hole like we did last year, but, at any time, this could turn around for the better. We're not close to where we believe we should be, but, at the same time, there is a lot of baseball left, so there's plenty of time to get back into it."

Gorzelanny says he is OK

Left-hander Tom Gorzelanny, struck on his left thumb by a line drive Thursday, believes he will be able to take his next turn Tuesday night against San Diego.

"I don't see any reason why I won't," he said yesterday.

"[The medical staff] did a very good job of keeping the swelling down," said manager Jim Tracy, who feared initially the ball hit by Aaron Miles had broken Gorzelanny's thumb. "We were very lucky."

Gorzelanny played catch yesterday and probably will throw his usual between-starts bullpen session tomorrow.

Chacon on pitch count

Shawn Chacon makes his first start of the season tonight as he replaces Tony Armas as the Pirates' fifth starter.

"I think he'll go out there and be very competitive," Tracy said.

Chacon's pitch limit will "probably be in the neighborhood of about 90 -- somewhere around in there," according to Tracy.

Pearce makes a hit

First baseman Steve Pearce, promoted from Class A Lynchburg to Class AA Altoona almost a month ago, seems to be fitting in nicely with the Curve.

"He's probably one of the goofiest guys I've ever met," third baseman Neil Walker said. "He's fun to play with. He keeps it light."

"He's funny, quirky," Altoona manager Tim Leiper said.

Also pretty good. Through Thursday night, Pearce had a .280 batting average with six doubles, two home runs and 10 RBIs in 75 at-bats.

"He's awesome," Leiper said.

"He has no fear. He attacks the ball. He's absolutely ready to pounce on every pitch. He's a gamer. He wants to win. He wants to be great out there every single day."

Delaney makes improvement

It would seem Lynchburg's Jason Delaney has put himself in the position of perhaps earning a promotion to Altoona.

"He's definitely in a position to be considered a prospect," said Brian Graham, the Pirates' senior player development director.

Delaney, 24, was drafted as an outfielder out of Boston College in the 12th round of the 2005 draft. He's added first base to his resume after Pearce's promotion Altoona.

Delaney had a rough time transitioning to a wood bat with Williamsport in 2005, batting just .213 in 55 games.

But he hit .300 with Class A Hickory last season. This season, helped by a recent 13-for-25 surge, he leads the Carolina League with a .358 batting average. In 42 games, Delaney has 10 doubles, five home runs and 28 RBIs.

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Old 06-08-2007, 06:44 AM   #5
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Default Pirates Notebook: Nady healthy enough to DH


Pirates Notebook: Nady healthy enough to DH

Friday, June 08, 2007
By Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

WASHINGTON -- Xavier Nady is well enough that he could be the Pirates' designated hitter for the three-game set that opens tonight in Yankee Stadium.

Or he could do more.

Manager Jim Tracy said yesterday that the team's athletic trainers were encouraged enough by Nady's recovery from a tight left hamstring -- he was removed in the second inning Wednesday night after feeling what he described as a "burning sensation" running the bases -- that he was made available for pinch-hitting yesterday.

He did not pinch-hit, but he did some running before the game -- by his estimate, "60-70 percent speed" -- and reported little difficulty.

"It's not anything like the last time," Nady said, referring to missing 10 starts to the same injury in late April and early May. "It's already feeling better."

More tests today in New York will determine if Nady can return to right field, something Tracy did not rule out for this weekend. If he cannot, he probably will be the designated hitter rather than Ryan Doumit.

Another dead duck

The Pirates had their 14th runner thrown out at home yesterday, the second time it happened without a slide.

In the second inning of the 3-2 victory against the Washington Nationals, Ronny Paulino was on first base when Jack Wilson doubled to left. Although Paulino clearly was going less than full tilt from first to third, third base coach Jeff Cox waved him home.

Tracy praised Cox for the decision, pointing out that pitcher Ian Snell was on deck with two outs.

Left fielder Ryan Church's throw to catcher Brian Schneider was on target, and Paulino was tagged without a slide. Why no slide?

"I never got a signal," Paulino said.

That was because Snell was back at the on-deck circle rather than close to the box to give Paulino the slide sign.

Tracy took no issue with any aspect of the play, including the non-slide.

"It didn't look to me like he had a chance to score," Tracy said.

Un-American attitude

The Pirates tonight begin a stretch of 15 interleague games, and that never is a good thing.

They are 52-84 overall since the leagues began crisscrossing in 1997, and that includes 10 opposition sweeps in 46 series and a 19-46 mark in American League parks.

And they bottomed out last year, going 3-12 and getting outscored, 93-71.

"It hasn't been very kind to us," Tracy said. "There are some good teams in the American League, I'll tell you that."

Few would dispute that, given the American's continuing dominance of the National across the board. Still, the Pirates' negative numbers are staggering, and they might be traced to a massive disparity in designated hitters when playing on the road: Opponents send to the plate sluggers whose careers are built around the bat, while the Pirates' designated hitters for the past decade have batted .254 with nine home runs in 240 at-bats.

Doumit, the main DH the past two years, batted .182 -- 6 for 33 -- with no home runs and four RBIs.

"Those teams have their lineups and don't have to change a thing when we come into their place," Tracy said. "But that will be different next week, when they come to Pittsburgh and their pitchers have to hit."

The Pirates are 9-23 against the five teams -- Yankees, Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox, Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Angels -- they face in this stretch.

Capps hearing today

Closer Matt Capps' appeal of his four-game suspension for hitting the Milwaukee Brewers' Prince Fielder with a pitch May 5 finally will be heard this morning in New York.

The case will be heard by Bob Watson, vice president of on-field operations for Major League Baseball, and a ruling is expected before the game tonight.

Capps spent part of yesterday morning on the phone preparing for the hearing.

Asked if he remembers anything about the incident, now five weeks old, he laughed and replied, "We'll see."

Buried treasure

Salomon Torres will be the closer in Capps' absence, and Tracy reiterated -- passionately -- his support for Torres despite monster struggles of late: "We need him. We need him! You can't manage around Salomon Torres. He has to be a part of what we do."

Rajai Davis made his third start in a row since being promoted from Class AAA Indianapolis, and he should get a fourth tonight against left-hander Andy Pettitte.

Josh Shortslef, a left-handed starter for Class AA Altoona and member of the Pirates' 40-man roster, yesterday avoided opening his season 0-7, which would have matched a Curve record. Shortslef, 1-6 despite a respectable 3.88 ERA, went six innings in a 13-6 rout of New Britain.

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Old 06-09-2007, 10:48 AM   #6
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Default Pirates Notebook: Torre would rather be at PNC

I like these comments by Torre.


Pirates Notebook: Torre would rather be at PNC

Saturday, June 09, 2007
By Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

NEW YORK --The oddity of the Pirates visiting Yankee Stadium for the second time in the past three years, while the Yankees have not been to Pittsburgh since 1960, apparently was not lost on New York manager Joe Torre.

"This series probably made more sense being played in Pittsburgh," Torre said before the game last night. "We probably would have helped to sell out their ballpark. This is the second time now that we've played them here. ... But I'm not the schedule-maker."

Major League Baseball makes the schedule, of course, and the one for 2008 likely will include the Yankees visiting PNC Park, though that is not official.

Torre admitted knowing little about the Pirates, whom the Yankees see only in Grapefruit League exhibitions.

"That's the extent of it," Torre said. "You watch them from time to time on TV but, to be honest, you spend more time scouting the American League. This is one reason I'm not a real fan of interleague play, because you don't know a lot about your opposition. It's uncomfortable."

He did offer a word of praise for Pirates manager Jim Tracy.

"I do know this: Mr. Tracy does a real good job of getting his players' attention," Torre said. "I've had a lot of respect for him for a long time."

Capps' ruling is delayed

No ruling will be made on Pirates closer Matt Capps' appeal of a four-game suspension until Monday or Tuesday, making him available to pitch all weekend.

"Music to my ears," Capps said.

Capps was suspended for hitting the Milwaukee Brewers' Prince Fielder with a pitch May 5. He argued then, and again yesterday in meeting with MLB vice president Bob Watson, that he did not intend to throw at Fielder.

"Thought I did pretty well," Capps said.

Clemens debut today

Roger Clemens' 2007 debut this afternoon will draw media from across the country, as well as a throbbing sellout crowd to Yankee Stadium. And that is sure to have an intangible impact on the game, given Clemens' history of feeding off such environs.

As Torre put it, "He should have an advantage, emotionally, over the other team, though you certainly don't take for granted a victory."

Ask some of the Pirates, though, and they will point out that facing Clemens eight times in the three previous years -- they were 3-5 against him while he pitched for the Houston Astros --will nullify some of that.

"This would have been a much bigger deal for us if we'd never faced him," center fielder Chris Duffy said. "I mean, it's still going to be crazy. But that makes it a little easier."

Torre said that Clemens, slowed in recent days by a sore groin, likely will go no deeper than four or five innings.

Kuwata has famous fan

Count Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui among those pulling for the Pirates to promote reliever Masumi Kuwata from Class AAA Indianapolis.

"He's very close, I know," Matsui said in a brief and rare English-only interview yesterday.

"He's a good pitcher, friend and teammate. He will do very well."

Matsui and Kuwata were teammates for a decade on Japan's Yomiuri Giants, one the team's slugger, the other its star pitcher.

Their other difference?

"His English is much better," Matsui said, laughing.

Matsui ended the interview by saying, "When he comes to Pittsburgh, tell him I said hello."

Buried treasure

Xavier Nady, whose left hamstring was reinjured Wednesday in Washington, was cleared to be the designated hitter after an afternoon running test. He probably will remain in the role for the weekend, as Tracy deemed his hamstring "about 80 percent."

Pirates owners Bob Nutting and Kevin McClatchy are in New York for the series.

The Texas Rangers' rotation for the series next week at PNC Park -- Kevin Millwood, Kameron Loe and Robinson Tejada -- each has an ERA above 6.00.

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Old 06-11-2007, 07:39 PM   #7
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Default Pirates Notebook: Kuwata gets rude welcome


Pirates Notebook: Kuwata gets rude welcome

Monday, June 11, 2007
By Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

NEW YORK -- Masumi Kuwata took a long time to pitch in a Major League Baseball game.

And it surely will be a lot longer before he forgets it, for good reasons and bad.

Kuwata, so joyous yesterday morning upon finally joining the Pirates after being promoted from Class AAA Indianapolis, so fired up after a 1-2-3 debut inning against the New York Yankees, experienced his true welcome-to-the-majors moment when Alex Rodriguez took him deep for a two-run home run in the sixth.

It was a first-pitch fastball that was intended to go inside but ended up over the plate, and Rodriguez drove it high above the right-field fence for a 10-6 New York lead.

"The first inning was OK," Kuwata said. "The second inning was not. A walk after two outs. Not good, you know?"

Kuwata described himself as "very nervous" when he entered in the fifth, but he zipped through it on 11 pitches. He got two quick outs in the sixth, too, before Bobby Abreu drew a seven-pitch walk to bring up Rodriguez.

"He did fine," manager Jim Tracy said of Kuwata. "We saw strikes. We saw know-how. And the guy who homered off him can do it anywhere."

Kuwata, at 39 years, 70 days, became the oldest player to make his major-league debut since Sept. 5, 1960, when Diomedes Olivo debuted with the Pirates at age 41.

Before the game, Kuwata was interviewed by about 40 members of the Japanese media.

"Playing in America became a dream of mine when I was 20 years old," he said. "I'm very happy to be able to pitch in the major leagues. I'm glad to finally realize my dream. I can't believe this, you know?"

Bullington has setback

Bryan Bullington was pulled after one inning of his start for Class AAA Indianapolis yesterday in Charlotte, N.C., because of what the Pirates described as discomfort in his right shoulder. The team called the move precautionary.

Bullington, in his first full year back from 2005 surgery on that shoulder, is an International League-best 9-2 with a 2.83 ERA.

Relief on the way?

General manager Dave Littlefield confirmed he is considering bringing up help from Indianapolis to keep the bullpen at full strength, given that Matt Capps' suspension should begin tomorrow and Salomon Torres is on the disabled list. To do that, a position player must be demoted.

"We'll consider a few different things," Littlefield said.

Littlefield cited Franquelis Osoria, Dan Kolb and Juan Perez as the relievers being considered. Osoria, owner of a 2.35 ERA, is the most likely choice.

It also is possible, given the miserable performance of the bullpen on this trip, that more than one reliever could be recalled and someone sent down.

Wilson, Paulino sit

The day after shortstop Jack Wilson and catcher Ronny Paulino contributed to a poor overall defensive showing by the Pirates, neither was in the lineup. Jose Castillo was at short, Ryan Doumit behind the plate.

Tracy was adamant that the moves were "not at all" influenced by the defense Saturday.

After the game, Tracy was effusive in his praise of Castillo, who went 2 for 3 with a walk and two gems in the field. The best of those came in the fifth, when he ranged deep in the hole on a Wil Nieves grounder for one of the Pirates' finest plays of the season.

"Tremendous game," Tracy said of Castillo. "Two highlight-reel plays, and another routine ground ball that he fielded ... you know, like you like to see a player field a routine ground ball."

Buried treasure

Tracy said his closer in Capps' absence would be by "a couple of people." Jonah Bayliss, who had 23 saves for Indianapolis last season, will be the primary. But, if a left-hander is needed, he would use Damaso Marte, who had 21 saves for the Chicago White Sox in 2002-03.

Littlefield said catcher Humberto Cota, whose period of being designated for assignment expires Thursday, will not be released. He will be traded or outrighted to the minors.

Kuwata did not have a chance to speak with New York left fielder Hideki Matsui, his decade-long teammate in Japan, but he faced him in the sixth inning. Matsui drew a five-pitch walk. "He was confused by my pitches," Kuwata said. "I think I was confused, too."

The Pirates are 0-6 against the Yankees in interleague play.

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Old 06-12-2007, 01:30 PM   #8
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Default Pirates Notebook: Torres gets good news; Kolb coming up


Pirates Notebook: Torres gets good news; Kolb coming up

Tuesday, June 12, 2007
By Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pirates reliever Salomon Torres experienced quite a relief yesterday, learning that his ailing elbow will not require surgery.

An MRI taken yesterday morning at Allegheny General Hospital showed that the medial collateral ligament in his right elbow is inflamed but not torn. That means the injury should heal with some rest, though it was not immediately known how much.

"I'm hoping to come back as soon as possible," Torres said yesterday.

He is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list June 24.

Torres, 35, initially informed management of elbow discomfort in spring training, but he pitched through off-and-on pain as the Pirates' closer until complaining of pain Saturday night at Yankee Stadium.

Kolb to be promoted

Reliever Dan Kolb will be promoted today by the Pirates from Class AAA Indianapolis.

Kolb, a 32-year-old right-hander, had a 3.15 ERA in 18 appearances, along with 16 strikeouts and nine walks in his 20 innings. He missed the final three weeks of May to a hamstring injury but pitched five times after that.

Kolb's promotion, which will become official this morning, will require two other moves: One, a player -- likely a position player -- must be demoted off the 25-man roster. Two, a space must be cleared on the full 40-man roster.

Management also was weighing the possibility of bringing up reliever Franquelis Osoria. If he joins Kolb, a current reliever would be returned to Indianapolis.

Bullington's arm tired

Indianapolis starter Bryan Bullington, removed after one inning Sunday because of shoulder discomfort, is being described as having little more than arm fatigue and probably will miss just one turn in the rotation. In his first year back from shoulder surgery, he has averaged 61/3 innings in his 13 starts.

Sean Burnett, another ailing starter at Indianapolis, performed his scheduled long-tossing session Sunday and is with the team in Charlotte, N.C.

Buried treasure

There was no announcement on reliever Matt Capps' appeal of his four-game suspension. That is expected today.

No fewer than 20 Japanese journalists -- likely more -- will be at PNC Park tonight for reliever Masumi Kuwata's first home game. And several of those plan on sticking with the team for the foreseeable future.

The Pirates signed the first seven of their 2007 draft class: catcher Juan Garcia (seventh round), left-hander Anthony Watson (ninth), infielder Erik Huber (12th), right-hander Harrison Bishop (17th), infielder Matt Cavagnaro (21st), right-hander Taylor Cameron (31st) and right-hander Gary Amato (48th).

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Default Pirates Notebook: Castillo starts in Wilson's spot again


Pirates Notebook: Castillo starts in Wilson's spot again

Wednesday, June 13, 2007
By Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Jack Wilson, the Pirates' everyday shortstop for seven years, was benched a second consecutive game last night in favor of Jose Castillo.

Still, as was the case Sunday at Yankee Stadium, manager Jim Tracy was adamant yesterday that his decision was no reflection on Wilson.

"It has absolutely nothing to do with Jack," Tracy said. "You'll see Jack much sooner rather than later."

He did not get more specific with that timetable, but he did make abundantly clear his view that Castillo deserved another start after a strong showing Sunday in New York. He went 2 for 4 with a walk and made two defensive gems at shortstop.

"When a player goes out and performs in that manner, it would be very difficult for Jose to come into this clubhouse, sit down at his locker and see that his name is not in the lineup," Tracy said. "Not with the game he played."

Tracy was asked if such a move sends a positive message to the clubhouse that good performance will be rewarded.

"You know something? With teams that perform well, the individuals who are in the lineup, they perform."

Kelly's future uncertain

Utilityman Don Kelly, the Mt. Lebanon native and Point Park College graduate who was the greatest surprise out of spring training, was designated for assignment yesterday to clear roster space for reliever Dan Kolb.

A team has 10 days after making such a designation to trade, release or demote a player if he clears waivers.

"Who knows what can happen?" Kelly said.

Kelly batted .154 -- 4 for 26 --without an extra-base hit or RBI.

"It's a tough deal to go out there two or three times a week and take an at-bat," he said. "If I end up in Indianapolis and get consistent at-bats, that will be a positive out of this."

Kolb's contract was purchased from Class AAA Indianapolis, and he arrived about two hours before the game.

Tracy said Kolb will be used in middle relief and will not be a closer option if Matt Capps is suspended.

Torres to Bradenton

Reliever Salomon Torres, who will fly soon to Bradenton, Fla., to rehabilitate his ailing right elbow, will not resume throwing until the middle of next week.

Given that he surely will need to make some minor-league rehabilitation outings after that, it seems highly unlikely he will come off the 15-day disabled list June 25, his first day eligible. A more realistic target would appear to be during the June 29-July 8 homestand.

Torres has what he described yesterday as a "severely inflamed" medial collateral ligament.

Buried treasure

Capps had been told by Major League Baseball he would have a ruling on his appeal of that four-game suspension no later than yesterday, but it passed with no word.

Xavier Nady's seamless running tests before the game convinced management he was well enough to play right field. Nady's strained left hamstring limited him to designated hitter duty over the weekend in New York.

The Pirates issued more than 40 credentials to Japanese media for reliever Masumi Kuwata's first game in Pittsburgh. That group also had a chance to gather around Texas closer Akinori Otsuka, who knows of Kuwata but never played in the same Japanese league with him.

The Pirates signed six more draft picks, including Tracy's son, right-hander Brian Tracy, their 20th-rounder. The rest were right-handers Matthew Foust (sixth) and Kyle McPherson (14th), outfielder Marcus Davis (18th), shortstop Chad Rice (24th) and left-hander Daniel Forrer (32nd).

The 40-man roster remains full, as Kolb took Kelly's place.

Kolb's addition adds $1.25 million to the payroll. He and starter Tony Armas were the Pirates' only free-agent signings in the offseason.

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Old 06-16-2007, 08:11 AM   #10
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Default Re: Pirates Notebook: Castillo starts in Wilson's spot again

Castillo is a bum! Jim Tracy must be just about the dumbest manager in major league baseball. The infield he runs out there every night is far and away the worst one in baseball and he's the only person who doesn't seem to notice.
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