Results tagged ‘ Donnie Veal ’

Day 20: Pirates @ Phillies; first round of cuts

Jenifer Langosch/

The Pirates had their first cuts on Saturday morning, though none of the moves were all that surprising. Tony Sanchez, Eric Fryer, Donnie Veal and Cesar Valdez have all been reassigned to Minor League camp. None were expected to start the season in Pittsburgh.

The Pirates have not designated where each of the four will begin the season, though Sanchez is expected to be Double-A Altoona’s starting catcher.

“He used his eyes very well. He used his ears very well while he was here,” manager Clint Hurdle said of Sanchez’s time in big league camp. “That was as important as anything for me. He’s got an infectious smile. There is nothing  you can’t like about the kid.”

Veal will continue to work through his rehab program, and I imagine he will stay in Bradenton to keep throwing in extended Spring Training. Valdez is likely headed to Triple-A Indianapolis.

As for your other morning news bits…

  • As promised Hurdle is shuffling around the lineup. He’s got Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata batting one-two on Saturday, just as the pair did for most of the second half of 2010. Pedro Alvarez is slotted into the third spot, while Neil Walker is batting fifth.
  • Ronny Cedeno remains out with a bruised right middle finger. He didn’t swing a bat yesterday, but Cedeno did field groundballs without any issue, he said.
  • The following Pirates pitchers are scheduled to throw in Sunday’s game: James McDonald, Joel Hanrahan, Chris Resop, Aaron Thompson, Daniel McCutchen, Justin Wilson, Jeff Locke, Justin Thomas
  • If you opt not to tune in to the webcast of today’s game, go root on my Mizzou Tigers at noon. The Tigers have kU at home today in the big rivalry game, which is going to be televised on CBS. Mizzou hasn’t exactly lived up to expectations this season, but a victory over the Jayhawks can erase some of the sting of a less-than-stellar year.


PIRATES: A. McCutchen (CF), J. Tabata (LF), P. Alvarez (3B), L. Overbay (1B), N. Walker (2B), G. Jones (DH), R. Doumit (C), J. Bowker (RF), C. d’Arnaud (SS)

Pitchers: P. Maholm, J. Karstens, T. Watson, S. Gallagher, C. Leroux, R. Owens

PHILLIES: J. Rollins (SS), S. Victorino (CF), R. Ibanez (LF), R. Howard (1B), P. Polanco (3B), B. Francisco (DH), D. Brown (RF), D. Young (2B), B. Schneider (C)

Pitchers: R. Halladay, J.C. Ramirez, B. Lidge, J. Contreras, R. Madson

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Day 5: Daily Squeeze

Jenifer Langosch/

Prospects.jpgOfficially, the first full-squad workout isn’t scheduled until Saturday. As it turned out, though, all 62 players were here this morning and all that were healthy took the fields for workouts on Friday. The one noticeable absentee on the field was lefty Scott Olsen, who has a mild left hamstring strain. He’ll be re-evaluated daily, the Pirates said, and we expect to have an update on his status in a week.

By all indications, Olsen won’t be able to do anything until then. He had already told me that he was building his arm up a little slower-than-usual this spring given his past shoulder issues. With this setback, you now have to wonder if Olsen is going to be able to log enough innings to be ready as a starter by Opening Day.

Though Brad Lincoln, Daniel McCutchen, Jeff Karstens and Brian Burres would contend otherwise, the Pirates have been hinting for a while now that the fifth spot in the rotation would likely come down to Olsen and Charlie Morton. Now, Morton might have the leg up. This would be the time, too, where one of those other guys sneaks up and becomes a serious part of the discussion.

We should have a better grasp on Olsen’s timetable by the end of next week.

As for the rest of your daily notes:

  • Many of the pitchers were called in for early work this morning, and they broke up into groups to focus on a number of specific things — delivery, side steps, pick off moves and bunt plays. This all happened before the 10 am workout.
  • Ronny Cedeno and Brian Friday arrived at Pirate City and participated in workouts for the first time. They were the only two position players that hadn’t yet reported.
  • Cedeno talked at length with reporters about his desire to prove he is an everyday shortstop at the Major League level. Clint Hurdle and Nick Leyva (infield instructor) also spoke about what they hope to see from Cedeno this spring. You can find all this in today’s feature on the main site.
  • Speaking of Cedeno, he’ll be wearing No. 5 this year. He gave Hurdle No. 13 and goes back to a number that he wore with the Cubs.
  • Leyva has done his homework on Cedeno and the rest of the infield group he has inherited. He has spoken extensively with Carlos Garcia, who was the Pirates’ infield instructor last year. He has also spoken to Perry Hill, who was with the Pirates in 2009. Leyva said he will be incorporating many of the same defensive drills that Hill introduced here during his one-year stay.
  • Jose Ascanio (28 pitches) appeared in camp, as those visa issues have now been fixed. He began his work to catch up to the rest of the pitchers by throwing his first side session.
  • Lefty Donnie Veal (34 pitches) also took the mound to throw on Friday. Remember, he’s on a more limited throwing program this spring as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.
  • The rest of the pitchers had the day off from throwing and worked mostly on defensive drills. The first group of pitchers will throw live batting practice to the hitters on Saturday, with the second group then scheduled to go on Sunday.
  • Steve Pearce spent the day working with the outfielders. Before today, I had only seen Pearce doing defensive drills at first base. He is going to get extensive work at both spots all spring.
  • Three spectators stood out on the Pirate City grounds. Jameson Taillon, Stetson Allie and Luis Heredia — your big three pitching prospects — wandered around watching the morning workouts. You can see the three in the photo above, which was taken by team photographer Dave Arrigo. All three pitchers are participating in the Pirates’ early Minor League camp.
  • Position players ended workouts by working on situational bunting and hitting. A coach would give them a play (squeeze, slap bunt, drag bunt, hit-and-run, etc.) and each hitter had to execute. Not that it’s fair to make firm evaluations this early in spring, but Pedro Alvarez was definitely off with his timing during the drill. A lot of swings and misses. I didn’t see everyone hit, but of those who did, Neil Walker and Ryan Doumit looked pretty sharp.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Day 2: Daily Squeeze

Jenifer Langosch/

Hart, Kevin.jpgLet me start off today’s post-workout recap with a question for you: What’s the biggest challenge facing Clint Hurdle as he begins the task as this team’s next manager?

That was the question posed to me recently and the subject of a story I wrote for the main site today. You can find my answer to that inquiry here. And, of course, I would love to hear your thoughts as well, if you so desire to share.

Plenty else to run through at the end of another workout day, so let’s get rolling:

  • First baseman Lyle Overbay arrived in Bradenton last night and made his first appearance at Pirate City on Tuesday. Overbay helped out during the pitchers’ fielding practice, and he took some cuts during batting practice. With Overbay in uniform, the Pirates are now just missing seven of their 62 players.
  • Right-hander Kevin Hart was out on the field before workouts going through his long toss program. Hart had been shut down for 10 days and given a cortisone shot to help reduce inflammation in his surgically-repaired shoulder. All went well on Tuesday as he got to throwing again. The Pirates aren’t going to rush Hart’s progression, though, so it will be a while before he takes the mound again.
  • Congratulations are in order for Manny Sanguillen, who was recently inducted into the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame. He was part of the second class of inductees and was joined by Edgar Martinez, Luis Tiant, Andres Galarraga, Rico Carty, Dennis Martinez and Fernando Valenzuela. The ceremony was held this past Saturday in the Dominican Republic.
  • I had the opportunity to meet pitching prospect Luis Heredia today, as he spent the morning watching the Major League Spring Training workouts. He asked to leave the Pirate City dorms and watch. Heredia also threw a long toss session in the afternoon. He is scheduled to throw off the mound on Thursday. My first impression: very cordial kid, and very tall! And to think that he is already 6-foot-6 and only 16, with time to continue growing.
  • The following 16 players threw their scheduled bullpen sessions on Tuesday: Charlie Morton, Brian Burres, Fernando Nieve, Chris Resop, Sean Gallagher, Tony Watson, Cesar Valdez, Tyler Yates, Jeff Karstens, Justin Thomas, Brad Lincoln, Chris Leroux, Daniel McCutchen, Ramon Aguero, Daniel Moskos and Bryan Morris.
  • The final number of side session was then pushed to 17 when Donnie Veal took the mound for a short side after the rest of the group had finished. Veal is on a different track than the rest of the pitchers, since he is recovering from Tommy John surgery.
  • Pitching coach Ray Searage (unsolicited) specifically praised three pitchers for looking particularly sharp in their first official bullpen session — Yates, Evan Meek, and Michael Crotta. Speaking of Meek, Searage said: “That was the best ‘pen I’ve ever seen out of Meek. Good gosh, it was solid.”
  • You can find more about this in the lengthy Pirates Beat that will be posted on the main site later this afternoon, but lefty Scott Olsen is being particularly cautious in his Spring Training progression this year. The goal is to ensure that the left shoulder, which has caused him injury issues over the past two years, does not flare up. A slower progression won’t affect his ability to compete for a rotation spot.
  • You won’t be seeing any strings during the side sessions any more. The strings that former pitching coach Joe Kerrigan used to put across home plate as a marker for pitch location are gone. The dummies are still around, but they will not be used all that much anymore, either.
  • Right-hander Brad Lincoln has reported to camp a few pounds lighter after some tough offseason conditioning work. His breaking ball isn’t all that sharp yet, though that’s obviously common at this point in the spring. As for his mechanics — which were badly tinkered with last season — Searage said they are back to where they need to be. Searage also promised that he would not be forcing any new mechancial changes on Lincoln moving forward.
  • Don’t expect the Pirates to name an Opening Day starter until at least midway through the Grapefruit League schedule. Hurdle said he already has some candidates, but he wants to see these starters pitch in games before a final schedule is mapped out.
  • Congratulations are also in order for James McDonald, who got engaged down here on Monday night.
  • The Pirates remain mum on their closer decision. It should be made this week, though.
  • Outfielder Matt Diaz is looking for 120 volunteers to help him build a playground for the Winter Haven Boys and Girls club on March 15. If you want more information, go here.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Day 1: Daily Squeeze

Jenifer Langosch/

Hurdle, Clint.jpgThe Daily Squeeze (aka: round-up following each workout day) is back for another year, and there are plenty of items of interest to report on this Valentine’s Day. I must say that the weather made for the perfect baseball setting, as we’re getting spoiled on that front already. No complaints in that department.

Spent part of the morning catching up with Ryan Doumit, who was one of the first people I wanted to target given what transpired this offseason. You can read what Doumit had to say here. I will add that while he was plenty careful in the words he chose and the delivery he used, Doumit is not content being a backup catcher. And know that the Pirates continue to pursue trade opportunities. This story isn’t about to die anytime soon.

As for the rest of your daily squeeze:

  • As of last count, the Pirates have 54 of 62 players checked in to Pirate City already. Position players aren’t required to be here until the end of the day on Friday. However, only seven are still missing. Certainly, those who are fighting for jobs have plenty of incentive to show up early. But other early arrivals include guys with firm grasp on starting roles, including Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker, Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata.
  • Speaking of Alvarez, GM Neal Huntington noted that the third baseman is stronger than he has ever been. Huntington adamently refuted a recent report that Alvarez had gained 15 pounds over the winter, though Huntington didn’t deny that Alvarez had gained some weight. I’ll look more in depth at this weight issue later in the week. But know that for now, Alvarez is sticking at third base.
  • The winner of the closer’s job should be known soon. Huntington indicated a decision is forthcoming (maybe already made) and that we will know after the players are informed. The Pirates are not, Hurdle said, going to use a co-closer model. My guess is that the job goes to Joel Hanrahan. But that’s only a guess.
  • Jose Ascanio was the only no show among the pitchers/catchers bunch that took the field on Monday. Ascanio is tied up in Venezuela with visa issues. Huntington said that Ascanio expected to get his visa today and, assuming he does, that means the righty will arrive in Bradenton on Tuesday.
  • A total of fifteen pitchers took the mound for side sessions during the afternoon. That group included Paul Maholm, Kevin Correia, Hanrahan, Jose VerasJoe Beimel, Aaron Thompson, Justin Wilson, Ross Ohlendorf, James McDonald, Evan Meek, Scott Olsen, Kyle McPherson, Rudy Owens, Michael Crotta and Jeff Locke. “Good one huh?” Doumit said to Maholm, after Maholm’s session.
  • In addition to side sessions, there was plenty of PFPs (pitchers fielding practice) going on this afternoon. There was also bunting practice and conditioning. This is the norm for these first two weeks.
  • Hitters who had arrived early took batting practice and also did fielding drills of their own.
  • Right-hander Tyler Yates is recovered from Tommy John surgery and is going through the same spring program as all the other pitchers. While there is still some unknown about how he will throw after such a long layoff, Yates is in competition for an Opening Day bullpen spot.
  • The only two pitchers who are really limited early are Kevin Hart and Donnie Veal. Both had arm surgeries last year and neither is ready to throw. There is still a chance that Hart could be ready by Opening Day. But each day that goes by lessens the chances of that. Veal, who will do little on-field work this spring, is targeting a May or June return. Neither has had any setbacks to this point.
  • I’ve already spotted Manny Sanguillen and Bill Virdon here as extra coaches. I was told that Bill Mazeroski will be making his first appearance later this week. It’s always a blast having the old timers around.
  • caught up with 2010 first-round pick Jameson Taillon recently. If you want to look at the interview, you can find it here.
  • Though the players didn’t take the field until about 12:20 p.m. on Monday, workouts will begin earlier in the coming days. Pitchers and catchers had their physicals this morning and there was a short team meeting at noon during which Huntington and Hurdle addressed the group.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Veal signs Minors deal

Jenifer Langosch/

The Pirates have re-signed Donnie Veal to a Minor League contract that includes an invitation to Spring Training.

The left-hander was non-tendered by the club back on Dec. 2, in order to clear space on the 40-man roster. However, general manager Neal Huntington made it clear at the time that the team was hopeful of coming to an agreement with Veal that would keep him with the organization. As it turns out, it didn’t take long to do so.

Veal, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, isn’t expected to be ready to pitch at the start of the season, but the Pirates are hopeful that he can still log a substantial amount of innings off the mound next year. In 49 2/3 innings with Triple-A Indianapolis last season, Veal went 3-2 with a 4.35 ERA and struck out 41.

The 26-year-old made 19 relief appearances for Pittsburgh in 2009, as he stuck on the roster as a Rule 5 pick. He is the seventh non-roster player the Pirates have invited to Spring Training.

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Huntington on Day 2 of Winter Meetings

Jenifer Langosch/

Some thoughts coming out of GM Neal Huntington’s afternoon session with the members of the Pittsburgh media:

  • On whether the Pirates continue to pursue additional starters: “We’ll always continue to try and find a way to upgrade. Maybe it takes one of our established pitchers and making them available in a trade and we can acquire some prospects or acquire some other pieces for our Major League club. Maybe we can add something to our club via Major League free agency. Maybe we can add via trade.”
  • On what the team is looking for as it targets starters: “At this point, we’d like to find some stability in the rotation. We need a guy who we feel comfortable with, who is going to take the ball every fifth day. You never know with pitchers. But we’ve looked at track records. And maybe there is a guy out there that’s got some upside that is coming back from injury in the last couple of years that may be a fit or maybe we have two stabilizers. We need to eat some innings. We need to lighten the load on our bullpen. We need to get deeper into the games as a rotation. We need to give ourselves some options.”
  • On how he is looking to build the bullpen: “A little bit of everything. We’re exploring the free agent market. We’re exploring the trade market. We’re looking at the 4-A free agent market. We’ve got a lot of internal options as well. If we add more starters than we need, we’ve got some additional bullpen options. Maybe then that pushes a guy who has had some success as a starter, maybe it pushes him back in the bullpen again and we deepen our bullpen. Maybe it pushes some of our internal options to come into camp in a little bit better shape. Too many options is never a bad thing, and that’s where we’re trying to go. We’re trying to add depth. We’re trying to give ourselves choices to make. We love power with strikeouts, but short of that, sometimes a variety of looks and a variety of stuff can help give a manager options.”
  • On whether he expects to come out of Winter Meetings with upgrade at short: “Maybe not out of the Winter Meetings. We have laid some groundwork on some things that we can improve upon defensively.”
  • On Ronny Cedeno and his future: “Ronny is still the guy, but at some point you have to stop talking about potential and you have to talk about performance. We’re getting to that point with Ronny. The consistency was there for a good portion of the year. He struggled at the end, no question.”
  • On whether there is still interest in re-signing Chan Ho Park: “We’re leaving the door open. There hasn’t been a ton of dialogue. Chan Ho, I think, is exploring his options. We’re exploring potential fits. With the quality of person that he is and what he did with us, absolutely have to keep an open mind to it. But I’d say things are not imminent at all.”
  • On rehab status of Jose Ascanio, Jeff Clement, Steve Pearce and Kevin Hart: “Everybody is on schedule. Nobody has had any significant setback. Everyone is on schedule for where we thought they would be. As we sit here today, yes, [all will be ready for Spring Training].”
  • On internal bullpen options: “I think a lot of people are beating up our bullpen because of the unknown. There is some power there. There is also some risk. It makes us feel like we don’t have to go seek an upgrade. But if there is one there that makes sense for us, we’ll certainly look.”
  • On whether Sean Gallagher is projected to be a potential starter next season: “In a strange way, being able to outright Sean may actually help his career. We’d love to see him start. But he was caught in that no-man’s land of being out of options and not wanting to lose him so you keep him on the Major League club. In Sean’s case, this may actually help. We’d love to get him stretched back out. We love the arm. He started in winter ball. He wants to start. He’s going to be given every chance in the world to make our club. There is open mindset to him being  a starter.”
  • On Kevin Hart’s best fit being in bullpen: “Given Kevin coming off the injury, it looks that way. It would be awfully hard to stretch him back out and expect him to eat 200 innings. We want to see where he is physically. We want to see where he is as his rehab continues to progress. Sitting here today, it’s a lot harder to envision him as a 200-inning starter next year. Maybe somewhere back down the road, but his quickest path back may be as a reliever. He’s also out of options, and that’s going to be the other challenge.”
  • On discussions to re-sign Donnie Veal and Brian Burres: “Continuing good  dialogue and continuing to remain optimistic on both fronts. Nothing tangible at this point.”

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Bucs re-sign two; non-tender four

Jenifer Langosch/

Tonight’s roster moves:

  • Ronny Cedeno agreed to a one-year contract with a club option for 2012
  • Jeff Karstens agreed to a one-year contract
  • Joel Hanrahan and Ross Ohlendorf were tendered contracts
  • Lastings Milledge, Argenis Diaz, Brian Burres and Donnie Veal were not tendered contracts; they become free agents

From GM Neal Huntington:

On Milledge: We spent a lot of time analyzing Lastings Milledge as compared with the potential alternatives for the expected role and determined it was worth further exploration of the alternatives.  We remain open to continuing dialogue with Lastings.”

On Veal: “Everything is on schedule with Donnie’s rehabilitation.  We made a tough business decision, but we are optimistic we will be able to re-sign Donnie.”

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Veal to undergo Tommy John

Jenifer Langosch/

Left-hander Donnie Veal will undergo Tommy John surgery on Friday after being diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow. The diagnosis was given by Dr. James Andrews after Veal visited the orthopedist on Thursday.

The procedure will cost Veal the rest of the 2010 season, and the recovery time for this type of surgery is typically 12-18 months. Veal, who pitched out of the Pirates’ bullpen as a Rule 5 pick in ’09, was one of the organization’s best starting pitching prospects in Triple-A.

Veal was 3-2 with a 4.35 ERA in nine starts for Indianapolis before the injury. He had struck out 41 and walked 23 in 49 2/3 innings.

The left-hander is now the second member of Indianapolis’ rotation to undergo season-ending surgery already this year. Dr. Andrews performed surgery on Kevin Hart at the beginning of May to repair a torn labrum in Hart’s right shoulder.

A statement from a club spokesman on Thursday said that the Pirates will provide further information on the injury and procedure on Friday.

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May 31: Cubs (24-27) @ Pirates (20-31)

Jenifer Langosch/

The blog is back, as am I after a much-welcomed getaway to Europe over the past two weeks. And as Lastings Milledge informed me in the clubhouse this morning, there will not be any more European adventures in my future since the team didn’t do so well during my absence. We’ll see about that…

Let’s jump right back in, but not before I thank all the men and women serving this country in the military. Thank you for what you do. And a special shout out to all you Pirates fans overseas who stay connected by reading this blog. I know there some of you since I have received notes from you. Thank you.


  • Manager John Russell announced that Neil Walker will be the team’s regular second baseman moving forward. Walker has hit safely in four of his first six games since being promoted last Tuesday. And with Aki Iwamura never finding his footing this season, the switch has been made. Iwamura, who is the highest paid player on the club, will be moved into a bench role after having nearly two months to get back on track.
  • Walker might also spell Andy LaRoche some time at third base if LaRoche continues to have any back issues. But the goal is to have Walker get comfortable at second, a position that he began playing only in Spring Training.
  • With Iwamura out of the lineup, the Pirates will use Andrew McCutchen as their primary leadoff hitter. Russell liked what McCutchen offered out of the No. 3 spot, but they have little other choice than to use him at the top of the lineup. For now, Walker is hitting second. Russell would not commit to him staying there, but said noted that it’s been a good fit thus far.
  • While I was gone, lefty Donnie Veal was placed on the Triple-A DL with soreness above the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow. He is scheduled to visit with Dr. James Andrews later this week. A visit to Dr. Andrews often isn’t a good thing, as Kevin Hart was reminded of earlier this month.
  • The Pirates reacquired Jonathan Van Every from the Red Sox in exchange for infield Josue Peley. Pittsburgh had dealt Van Every to Boston on April 24. Van Every will join Triple-A Indianapolis on Monday.
  • Spoke with Chris Jakubauskas this morning, and he remains encouraged with his progress. He threw 30 pitches (all fastballs) on Saturday and is scheduled to throw 40-45 in his next session on Tuesday. He’ll likely mis in some sinkers and changeups this time.
  • Steve Pearce (sprained right ankle) has had his protective boot removed and is walking with hardly a limp. Pearce said the ankle is still sensative in spots, but that it is improving.
  • Lefty Jack Taschner will make his second Minor League rehab appearance with Double-A Altoona later tonight. Taschner is eligible to come off the DL later this week.
  • Former Pirates reliever John Grabow has been placed on the DL with a left MCL sprain on Monday. That means the Cubs lefty won’t be facing his former team in this series.
  • A reminder to women interested: Milledge will host a “Bats Against Breast Cancer” baseball clinic from 7:45 am – 1:35 pm before the team’s game against the Giants on Sunday. For those interested in more details, go here.

Pirates lineup:

  1. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  2. Neil Walker (2B)
  3. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  4. Garrett Jones (RF)
  5. Ryan Church (LF)
  6. Ryan Doumit (C)
  7. Jeff Clement (1B)
  8. Ronny Cedeno (SS)
  9. Ross Ohlendorf (RHP)

Cubs lineup:

  1. Kosuke Fukudome (RF)
  2. Marlon Byrd (CF)
  3. Derrek Lee (1B)
  4. Aramis Ramirez (3B)
  5. Mike Fontenot (2B)
  6. Alfonso Soriano (LF)
  7. Geovany Soto (C)
  8. Starlin Castro (SS)
  9. Randy Wells (RHP)

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04/12: Pirates (3-3) @ Giants (5-1)

Jenifer Langosch/

I’m back on the beat for those who were temporarily worried — meant to mention this on Thursday, but I had a family wedding to attend this past weekend, which was why I was not with the team in Arizona. Seems like I got back just in time for all sorts of news.

Obviously, this is the first time that the Pirates have been San Francisco since last July, and none of us who were here (and most of those Pirate fans who weren’t) will never forget that trip. July 29 was probably one of the draining day I’ve had on this beat.

It started with an early day game after a night game, which is always tiring enough especially with the time change element. I remember setting up the computer that morning only to find out Jack Wilson had just been traded. After getting reaction from him and other members of the club, I started writing. In the middle of the game, I spent time on the phone talking to Ian Snell, who had also been traded. I also started hearing that Freddy Sanchez was soon to be next.

I don’t think I watched a single pitch during the game, which if I remember right featured a terrific start by Zach Duke. Sure enough, after the game Sanchez was dealt, and all of us were ushered down to the press conference room at AT&T Park to watch him put on a Giants uniform. Absolutely surreal experience there.

Many more stories later, I finally boarded a red eye flight to Missouri, where I was to be in a wedding the next day.

Needless to say, let’s hope this visit to San Francisco goes a bit smoother. As for today’s news, and there is plenty…

  • As reported earlier, the Pirates made a handful of roster moves this afternoon. Ross Ohlendorf has been scratched from Monday’s start due to back spasms. He started feeling tightness in his lower back on Friday and he’s still not able to throw. The Pirates remain optimistic that Ohlendorf will be ready to go on Saturday, but realistically, he’d need to be able to throw a side session on Wednesday to be able to do so. We’ll see how the next 48 hours go. Not sure I’m as optimstic as the team is, but I’m no back expert either.
  • Pitching in Ohlendorf’s place tonight will be lefty Brian Burres. He was the call-up candidate primarily for two reasons. First, Monday was already his scheduled night to pitch so Burres doesn’t get messed up there. This was to be his first start of the season. Second, without placing someone on the disabled list, teams are not allowed to call up a player already on the 40-man roster until after April 14. The Pirates are not ready to DL Ohlendorf, which means starters Donnie Veal, Brad Lincoln, Kevin Hart and Chris Jakubauskas couldn’t have even come up if the Pirates had wanted.
  • In order to make a roster spot for Burres, the Pirates designated Hayden Penn for assignment. The Penn experiment failed miserably for now, though the Pirates hope they can continue working with him in the Minors. As manager John Russell noted again on Monday, the club sees potential there. Penn just needs much more work in a less pressurized setting.
  • The Pirates have 10 days to trade, release or waive Penn. If he can clear waivers, Penn could be outrighted to Triple-A. He is out of options.
  • Righty Joel Hanrahan is back with the team after spending an extra week getting ready for the season. Hanrahan made two Minor League rehab appearances (Thursday and Saturday) and is now set to be a fixture in the back end of the Pirates’ bullpen.
  • Daniel McCutchen has been optioned to Triple-A (clearing a 25-man roster spot for Hanrahan). The Pirates don’t plan on needing a fifth starter until April 24, so there was no need to have McCutchen remain with the club idle. He’ll stay on a normal pitching schedule in Indianapolis.
  • However, McCutchen was still with the Major League club in San Fran on Monday and he is the Plan B if Ohlendorf is unable to go on Saturday. As mentioned earlier, the Pirates should know by Wednesday if Ohlendorf can pitch this weekend. If not, the Pirates will hold off on having McCutchen start in the Minors and have him spot start in Pittsburgh.
  • Russell didn’t rule reliever Jack Taschner out on Monday, though I’m sure that would be the preference. The former Giant pitched on both Saturday and Sunday and logged 2 1/3 innings yesterday.
  • Hart has been suspended three games for throwing behind a batter in his start last Thursday. He was ejected after doing so. Teammate Brian Friday had already been plunked twice earlier in the night. The suspension began on Sunday, meaning that Hart will not be able to make his scheduled start on Tuesday. He’s now expected to make his second start of the season on Wednesday instead.
  • In other Triple-A news… Jeremy Powell is making the spot start for the Tribe tonight because of the need for Burres here in San Francisco. … If you missed it, third baseman Pedro Alvarez went deep three times in his first two games with Indianapolis. … Steve Pearce went deep for the first time this season in the fourth inning on Monday. That brought his average up to .500.
  • For those of you keeping an eye on what’s going on in Indy (and you should), Indians broadcaster Scott McCauley keeps a great blog. It’s a great source of information and quotes, and I recommend making it a daily stop for Pirates news.

Pirates lineup:

  1. Aki Iwamura (2B)
  2. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  3. Lastings Milledge (LF)
  4. Garrett Jones (RF)
  5. Ryan Doumit (C)
  6. Jeff Clement (1B)
  7. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  8. Brian Burres (LHP)
  9. Ronny Cedeno (SS)

Giants lineup:

  1. Aaron Rowand (CF)
  2. Edgar Renteria (SS)
  3. Pablo Sandoval (3B)
  4. Aubrey Huff (1B)
  5. Mark DeRosa (LF)
  6. Bengie Molina (C)
  7. Juan Uribe (2B)
  8. Andres Torres (RF)
  9. Barry Zito (LHP)

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