Results tagged ‘ Matt Capps ’

All-Star Media Day

Jenifer Langosch/

Checking back in from Anaheim, where just hours ago all National League and American League players were made available to the media. Right now, AL hitters are out on the Angel Stadium Field taking batting practice. The NL bunch will follow shortly.

Here are a few images I snapped earlier today…

ASG - Meek.jpgThat’s obviously Pirates All-Star Evan Meek as he was meeting with various reporters. Most of the reporters visiting with Meek were those who cover the previous organizations he was affiliated with (Twins, Padres, Rays), as they were interested in his journey from then until now.

I’ve written a handful of stories about Meek since he received this All-Star invite, so I decided to focus today’s largely on his 2008 season. Meek freely talks about how the events of that year put his career on course and has led to what he is experiencing this week. Here is that story if you are interested.

During his session on Monday, Meek shared one additional story that I found humorous. He was asked if in his contract there was any clause that triggered a bonus if invited to an All-Star Game. Not yet being arbitration eligible, Meek said he was given a list of awards before the season with the option of choosing one. If he wins that award then he’d get a bonus.

So Meek looked at the list this spring and started crossing items off, with All-Star Game being the first items he eliminated. Gold Glove and Silver Slugger followed. Eventually, Meek chose the Rolaids Relief Man award, thinking that was the only logical one.

When Meek learned that he’d be headed to Anaheim he phoned his agent and jokingly asked, “Is there any way we can switch?” Of course, no such luck.

ASG - Capps.jpg

Sorry that the photo isn’t spectacular, but hopefully it’s good enough for you to recognize Matt Capps, the Nationals’ All-Star rep. It was good catching up with Capps briefly — he had plenty of eager reporters waiting to talk with him, so I couldn’t monopolize the time. Capps seems genuinely content with where his career has taken him, and he reiterated that he has only good memories of his time with the Pirates’ organization. He has never expressed any hard feelings about the way things ended, either.

Interestingly enough, Capps and Meek were seated next to each other in the Marriott ballroom where all the NL players gathered. You could tell that seating arrangement had both a little more comfortable.

ASG - Bautista.jpg
Look really closely and see if you can figure out who’s taking cuts in the batting cage. OK, so maybe my vantage point wasn’t ideal, but anyways, it’s Toronto All-Star and former Pirates third baseman Jose Bautista. He was a part of the final group of AL hitters to take cuts this afternoon.


It’s not Pirates-specific, but if you’re interested in learning more about your 2010 Home Run Derby participants, this is your link. The Derby begins at 8 p.m. ET.

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Capps close to signing; return to Pittsburgh unlikely

Jenifer Langosch/

Closer Matt Capps wouldn’t go so far as to say a return to Pittsburgh is out of the question, but it certainly doesn’t sound likely as the former Pirates stopper moves closer to signing a contract for 2010.

Both Capps and Pirates general manager Neal Huntington expressed a mutual interest in the 26-year-old reliever returning next season despite the Pirates’ decision not to offer him a contract prior to the non-tender deadline. The caveat in that mutual interest, however, remains the money.

Pittsburgh’s decision to let Capps become a free agent 10 days ago was dictated by the organization’s unwillingness to potentially pay Capps the salary that he was seeking, which was substantially more than the $2.4 million he made in 2009.

At least one team has offered more to Capps than the Pirates initially did, meaning that Pittsburgh would seemingly have to increase its bid if it wanted to make a serious run at re-signing its closer. The Pirates, who firmly believe in the initial value they assigned to Capps, are unlikely to do that.

“The ball is still in their court,” Capps said. “They have to make an offer and do what they think is best. I’ve done a lot of good things for that organization and I would like to continue doing it, but unfortunately we didn’t see eye to eye on [a contract before the non-tender deadline].

“There has been a little bit of conversation back and forth,” he continued. “They have a lot more on their plate. I understand that. There has been conversation. There has been talk. I don’t know the full extent of it.”

Even so, the Pirates might be out of time. Though Capps’ agent, Paul Kinzer, was contacted by more than a dozen teams shortly after Capps became a free agent, that list has been whittled down to two, according to Kinzer. The agent told that Capps will sign with either the Nationals or Cubs by the end of the day on Wednesday.

When asked if that was a firm deadline, Capps remained a bit more non-committal.

“We are just waiting to hear a few more offers,” Capps said. “We want to feel out the other interest that is out there. I’m not in a hurry to get something done, but in the same respect, I don’t want this going into January or February. We’ve kind of narrowed it down to the teams that are the most interested and hope to have something settled soon.”

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Capps non-tendered, becomes free agent

Already short on bullpen help, the Pirates are now in the market for more.

In a much surprising move, the Pirates did not tender a contract to closer Matt Capps, thereby making him a free agent and able to negotiate with any club this offseason. The Pirates also opted not to offer a contract to lefty Phil Dumatrait. Starter Zach Duke was tendered a contract, and shortstop Ronny Cedeno has already come to an agreement on a one-year deal with the club.

All teams had until 11:59 p.m. ET to tender contracts to players eligible for arbitration.

As late as Wednesday, general manager Neal Huntington said that the Pirates’ plans were to offer Capps a contract for next year. And on that same day in a session with reporters at the Winter Meetings, manager John Russell emphasized that despite Capps’ struggles last season, the righty would come into 2010 as the team’s closer once again.

Ultimately, however, the Pirates were concerned that Capps’ price tag for 2010 could be too high a cost to pay for a reliever that digressed significantly last year.

In the final year of a two-year contract that bought out his first year of arbitration eligibility, Capps went 4-8 with a 5.80 ERA. He record 27 saves, but he also blew five in addition to those eight losses. Had the Pirates tendered Capps a contract, he would have been due a raise on the $2.3 million he made in 2009.

“We attempted to reach agreement with both Matt and Phil prior to the deadline,” Huntington said. “Each player preferred to explore free agency. We have not closed any doors but will begin immediately to explore other opportunities to improve our bullpen.”

While Capps can still choose to negotiate with the Pirates, it’s most likely that his career in Pittsburgh is now over. Despite his struggles last season, multiple teams have shown interest in the 25-year-old right-hander, believing that he can bounce back and be a successful pitcher in the back end of a bullpen again.

In the meantime, the Pirates now have even more work to do to construct a bullpen that had already lost Jesse Chavez in an offseason trade. One thing the Pirates do seem confident in, though, is that their next closer could come in-house, as both Joel Hanrahan and Evan Meek are likely to garner consideration for the role.

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Bucs to tender contracts to Capps, Cedeno and Duke

Jenifer Langosch/

Pirates general manager Neal Huntington confirmed that the club has plans to tender contracts to closer Matt Capps, shortstop Ronny Cedeno and left-hander Zach Duke before Saturday’s midnight deadline.

Those three represent the Pirates’ only arbitration-eligible players.

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Huntington's Day 1 thoughts

Jenifer Langosch/

The three members of the press that cover the Pirates regularly just finished a session with GM Neal Huntington. Here are a few of the highlights…

  • On whether other clubs have called about Matt Capps and Ryan Doumit: “We’ve had conversations on a number of players, where clubs have asked us if we would consider moving them.”
  • On whether clubs have been inquiring about the availability of lefty starters Zach Duke and Paul Maholm: “Given the need for starting pitching in the industry, it’s safe to assume that those guys have been asked about.”
  • On whether the Pirates anticipate tendering contracts to the club’s three arbitration-eligible players (Capps, Ronny Cedeno, Duke) by the Saturday night deadline: “It’s a good question. It’s a good question.” Though he left his answer open there, it’s still expected that all three players are tendered contracts.
  • On how serious a need it is to add another shortstop to the big-league club this offseason: “Shortstop is an area where we feel like we can thicken our options and provide ourselves with depth in case of injury, in case of substandard performance. To sit here and to say that we have somebody that if something were to happen to Ronny Cedeno that we feel comfortable running out there for two months… it’s an area where we are looking to see if we can deepen and provide a challenge.”
  • On whether the team anticipates making a selection in Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft: “There are a handful of names that we are seriously considering. I don’t think it means that we will definitely take somebody. But there are guys that interest us and that will warrant further discussion.”
  • One other note worth mentioning: Huntington lauded the offseason conditioning work of third baseman Pedro Alvarez and outfielder Lastings Milledge.

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Arbitration-eligible players

Jenifer Langosch/

I know this list has surfaced in other stories on the site, but so you have it in a concise form, here are the Pirates players eligible for arbitration, along with their service time:

  • Zach Duke (4.094)
  • Ronny Cedeno (4.029)
  • Matt Capps (4.017)
  • Jeff Karstens (2.144)

The cut-off for “Super Two” players becoming arbitration eligble was at two years, 139 days. You’ll notice that Karstens made that cut-off by five days.

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Pirates Charities teams with Rays in Bradenton

Jenifer Langosch/

The Pirates announced on Thursday that Pirates Charities has teamed up with the Rays Baseball Foundation to renovate two youth baseball fields in Bradenton, Fla., where the Pirates hold Spring Training. The two fields — one named “Rays Field” and the other named “Pirates Field” — will be used by Bradenton’s Jr. RBI Program.

Pirates closer Matt Capps contributed $50,000 to the renovation project, and Pirates Charities will donate another $40,000. The Rays will also give $90,000, with some of that coming from Rays pitcher James Shields.

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August 7: Cardinals (59-51) @ Pirates (45-63)

Before we get going on baseball-related news, I’d like to revisit some items from after last night’s long game. It was reported — and accurately so, based on the information members of the media were provided after Thursday’s game — on and by others who cover the team regularly that two Pirates players did not speak to the media Thursday night.

Kevin Hart, who made the start in his Pirates debut, left the clubhouse before we were allowed in. And we were told by a Pirates spokesperson that reliever Steven Jackson, who took the loss in the game and was sent down to Triple-A minutes after, would not speak either. That is why you did not see quotes from either of the two pitchers.

On Friday, we (the media that cover the team daily) were given some clarification on the circumstances behind last night’s events.

Hart was waiting for us when we entered the clubhouse this afternoon to apologize for not being around after the game. Because the Pirates made multiple roster moves after the game, the media was held out longer than normal and Hart, not knowing why the media wasn’t being allowed in, waited for about 15 minutes and then left thinking no one wanted to talk with him. He had not been told to wait around to speak, nor was he informed why the media was not in the clubhouse as expected.

He sincerely apologized to the media, fans and his teammates for how things happened last night and wanted everyone to know his intention was not to be disrespectful. I can tell you that in my other dealings with Hart so far, he has been nothing but extremely accomodating, respectful and pleasant to deal with. That said, chalk Thursday’s incident to pure miscommunication.

As for Jackson, Pirates media relations director Jim Trdinich took responsibility for telling Jackson that he did not have to speak with reporters after the game, hence Jackson’s decision not to. We were unaware on Thursday that Jackson had been given the option.

Wanted to get all of that out there, since I know there were some harsh words directed at both players afterward for what, at the time, appeared to be deliberate avoidance of the media.

Now on to baseball… with today’s news, notes and randomness… 

  • Right-handed relievers Chris Bootcheck and Jose Ascanio have arrived and will be two fresh arms for the Pirates’ bullpen. Bootcheck was called up when Donnie Veal went on the DL with a sprained left index finger. Ascanio takes the roster spot that belonged to Jackson. Bootcheck and Ascanio will both be used in middle relief.
  • Manager John Russell said that though Ascanio will be used as a reliever, that does not rule out returning him to a starting role later in the year. That could be by sending him down to Triple-A Indianapolis later this month, or by giving him spot starts with the Pirates in September. Basically, the Pirates were in dire need of a fresh arm and Ascanio gives them someone who can throw multiple innings.
  • The decision to put Veal back on the DL seems to be another “aggressive” one by the organization, which continues to be hesitant to use Veal in situations where the game is close. According to Russell, Veal was throwing earlier this week and said that that his finger did not feel right. He has been diagnosed with a sprained left index finger. If the Pirates want, they have the ability to keep Veal on the DL for the rest of the month and reinstate him in September when they can freely call up bullpen reinforcement.
  • Heading into Friday’s contest against the Cardinals, the Pirates have been outscored 24-4 in the seventh inning and later on this homestand. That helps to explain why the club has lost five straight.
  • As reported by Jonathan Mayo, the Pirates’ eighth-round Draft pick, Colton Cain, is close to signing with the Pirates for a seven-figure bonus. That announcement could be made official as early as later this afternoon.
  • Brian Bixler, who is being converted to a utility player at Triple-A Indianapolis, was named the Triple-A Player of the Month for July. Bixler hit .343 with 17 runs scored, six doubles, three triples and six home runs. He drove in 20 and stole six bases.
  • Right-hander Jean Machi was promoted from Double-A Altoona to Triple-A to take Bootcheck’s spot in the Indianapolis bullpen.
  • Third base coach Tony Beasley is expected to rejoin the team on Sunday. He has been gone for about two and a half weeks due to the death of his father and aunt.
  • Lost in last night’s loss was Matt Capps brilliant relief work. While the rest of the ‘pen struggled, Capps pitched two scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out four. That marked Capps’ first two-inning appearance since Sept. 13, 2008. He is 4-0 with a 0.26 ERA in games where he has pitched two or more innings. Try to explain that one…
  • The Pirates have been one-hit twice this year, with one of those coming against St. Louis’ Chris Carpenter, who makes the start for the Cardinals tonight. In 12 career games against the Pirates, Carpenter is 10-1 with a 2.06 ERA.
  • With 45 wins in the team’s first 108 games, the Pirates are on pace for a 68-win season. This club has won 67 or 68 games in each of the last four seasons.

Pirates lineup:

  1. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  2. Lastings Milledge (LF)
  3. Garrett Jones (RF)
  4. Ryan Doumit (1B)
  5. Delwyn Young (2B)
  6. Steve Pearce (1B)
  7. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  8. Ronny Cedeno (SS)
  9. Paul Maholm (LHP)

Cardinals lineup:

  1. Julio Lugo (SS) (2B)
  2. Rick Ankiel (CF)
  3. Albert Pujols (1B)
  4. Matt Holliday (LF)
  5. Ryan Ludwick (RF)
  6. Mark DeRosa (3B)
  7. Yadier Molina (C)
  8. Skip Schumaker (2B) Brendan Ryan (SS)
  9. Chris Carpenter (RHP)

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June 9: Pirates (26-31) @ Braves (28-28)

I’m on Draft duty the rest of the evening (and yes, I’m still sticking with my projection of C Tony Sanchez as being the Pirates’ guy), but here’s the quick lowdown from the clubhouse…

  • Jeff Karstens, who threw 18 pitches in Monday’s 15-inning loss, will still make his scheduled start on Wednesday. Karstens will not do any sidework today and will not be limited in pitch count on Wednesday.
  • Manager John Russell said that everyone is available if needed in the ‘pen on Tuesday. And yes, that includes Evan Meek, who tossed three innings on Monday. The only one of the seven relievers not to get into the game yesterday was closer Matt Capps, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t throw. Capps estimated that he warmed up eight different times in the ‘pen during the course of the game.
  • No injury to second baseman Freddy Sanchez; just another off day. Russell said he had planned to let Sanchez sit last Sunday, but then opted against it when Jack Wilson was out with a sore shoulder.

Pirates lineup:

  1. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  2. Nyjer Morgan (LF)
  3. Delwyn Young (2B)
  4. Adam LaRoche (1B)
  5. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  6. Eric Hinske (RF)
  7. Robinzon Diaz (C)
  8. Jack Wilson (SS)
  9. Ross Ohlendorf (RHP)

Braves lineup:

  1. Nate McLouth (CF)
  2. Yunel Escobar (SS)
  3. Chipper Jones (3B)
  4. Brian McCann (C)
  5. Garret Anderson (LF)
  6. Greg Norton (1B)
  7. Matt Diaz (RF)
  8. Kelly Johnson (2B)
  9. Derek Lowe (RHP)

May 31: Astros (19-28) @ Pirates (22-27); Veal goes on DL

The Pirates have placed RHP Donnie Veal on the disabled list with a right groin strain. Veal suffered the injury during his two-inning stint on Friday, specifically on the 3-2 pitch he threw to Hunter Pence in the 7th. Veal said he had been slipping on the mound a bit, but slipped a little further on that pitch and felt a little tightness.

As a result, Pittsburgh will be one man short in the bullpen this afternoon. The Pirates will call up a reliever on Monday to take Veal’s place on the 25-man roster. 

As has been well-documented all season, the Pirates have been hiding Veal (a Rule 5 pick) in the bullpen all season, so not having his availability isn’t a significant loss. In fact, with another reliever in tow beginning on Monday, manager John Russell will have a little more flexibility in how he uses his relievers.

Chris Bootcheck and Steven Jackson, who is already on the Pirates’ 40-man roster, would seem the most likely candidates to be called up from Triple-A.

Boy, is this Pirates bullpen is battered and brusied all around. Tyler Yates and Craig Hansen are both on the DL indefinitely. Matt Capps is just coming back from a scary incident last Monday. This probably also means that Tom Gorzelanny, who the Pirates would like to get back into the Triple-A rotation, is here to stay a while longer.


Houston wraps up its season series here at PNC Park with Sunday’s rubber game. The ‘Stros took a series, 2-1, against the Pirates back in early April.  Russell is sticking with Andy LaRoche in the No. 2 spot in the lineup again on Sunday. LaRoche reached base three times from that spot on Saturday, which marked the first time this season that LaRoche had hit higher than fifth. It makes sense, though, right? LaRoche is the team’s hottest hitter at the moment, so why not maximize the number of plate apperances he’s going to get.

Nyjer Morgan gets the day off, as both Craig Monroe and Brandon Moss earned starts. While Monroe went 1-for-5 on Saturday, Moss’ pinch-hit RBI double in the eighth gave the Pirates six pinch-hit RBIs this season.


Pirates lineup:

  1. Nate McLouth (CF)
  2. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  3. Freddy Sanchez (2B)
  4. Craig Monroe (LF)
  5. Adam LaRoche (1B)
  6. Robinzon Diaz (C)
  7. Brandon Moss (RF)
  8. Jack Wilson (SS)
  9. Paul Maholm (LHP)

Astros lineup:

  1. Edwin Maysonet (2B)
  2. Miguel Tejada (SS)
  3. Hunter Pence (RF)
  4. Carlos Lee (LF)
  5. Lance Berkman (1B)
  6. Jason Michaels (CF)
  7. Jeff Keppinger (3B)
  8. Humberto Quintero (C)
  9. Mike Hampton (LHP)