Results tagged ‘ Ryan Church ’

Pirates, D-backs announce five-player deal

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

With the Pirates’ Deadline deal now official.. here is the full story in advance of it going on pirates.com shortly:

The Pirates have acquired catcher Chris Snyder and Minor League shortstop Pedro Ciriaco from the D-backs in exchange for three of the team’s veterans – Ryan Church, Bobby Crosby and D.J. Carrasco.

The deal was officially announced by Pittsburgh just three hours before Saturday’s 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline. The Pirates also received $3 million from the D-backs, according to a baseball source, to help compensate for part of Snyder’s salary.

Snyder won’t be the only player joining the Pirates in St. Louis before Saturday’s game. The club has also recalled shortstop Argenis Diaz and first baseman Jeff Clement. The pair will take the roster spots left vacant by Church and Crosby. Diaz can serve as a backup middle infielder, and Clement provides some insurance at first in case the Pirates need to plug Garrett Jones into an outfield spot.

The acquisition of Snyder gives the Pirates another option behind the plate, where Ryan Doumit – currently on the 15-day disabled list with a concussion – has been the everyday starter since 2008. Snyder has filled mostly a backup role for Arizona this season behind Miguel Montero, who took over the starting job when Snyder missed time in ’09 with a back injury.

In 65 games this year, Snyder is hitting .231 with 10 homers and 32 RBIs. He is a career .233 hitter in parts of seven seasons with Arizona. Snyder has never played anywhere else, having been drafted by the organization in the second round of the 2002 First-Round Player Draft.

“Chris Snyder is a solid Major League player who will provide us with a quality catching option for this year and next year,” general manager Neal Huntington said.  “He brings leadership to the club, along with a game calling and receiving ability that will help our pitching staff mature. Additionally he will add some home run power to our lineup.”

One of the biggest questions with the acquisition is how Snyder’s arrival might affect Doumit’s future in Pittsburgh.

Snyder is under contract for $5.75 million next year with a club option for 2012 worth $6.75 million. There is a $750,000 buyout attached to that option. That means that if the Pirates hold on to both Snyder and Doumit next year, Pittsburgh would be paying $10.85 million to its catching tandem in 2011.

There are some other options, though. The Pirates could deal either catcher before next season, or there is the possibility that Pittsburgh could consider using Doumit at another position. He has played some outfield and first base in the Majors.

In Ciriaco, the Pirates receive a 25-year-old shortstop who was hitting .259 with 28 extra-base hits and 51 RBIs in 87 games with the D-backs’ Triple-A affiliate. Ciriaco, has stolen 14 bases this year after swiping a combined 78 in his last two seasons.

Ciriaco’s skill set is fairly comparable to that of the team’s current starting shortstop, Ronny Cedeno. This is the first full Triple-A season for the Dominican Republic native, who is known primarily for his defense and speed.

The fact that Pittsburgh targeted a shortstop makes perfect sense given the organization’s lack of middle infield talent at the high Minor League levels.

The Pirates did not lose any critical pieces in the deal, as none of the three players acquired by Arizona was expected to be a long-term fit in Pittsburgh. All three had been signed as free agents during the winter

Both Crosby and Church had a chance to earn more playing time either this season, but neither seized the opportunity. Church hit just .182 with 18 RBIs in 69 games, while Crosby batted .224 in 61 games.

Church was under contract for $1.5 million this season and has one more year of arbitration eligibility remaining. Crosby, who was earning $1 million, was to be a free agent again at the end of the season.

Carrasco, who was hopeful of being dealt to a contending team, has been a key piece in the Pirates’ bullpen. Used often as a long reliever, the righty accumulated 55 2/3 innings and posted a 3.88 ERA. He is under contract for $950,000 this season – with another $300,000 possible in incentives – and the D-backs can now retain his rights through 2012.

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July 1 Odds and Ends

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Catching up on some recent news….

  • Second baseman Neil Walker has targeted Saturday as a potential return date. He went through Wednesday without any headaches or other concussion symptoms, and that cleared him to be able to play catch and take groundballs on Thursday. Walker suffered a concussion last Friday in Oakland when he collided with right fielder Ryan Church.
  • Bobby Crosby is back in the lineup and starting at short. In all, he missed just two games (and part of a third) after his collision. Manager John Russell hasn’t said as much, but I’d expect Crosby to get regular playing time like he was before the injury. Ronny Cedeno has not been impressive at all lately (six hits in his last 65 at-bats), and Crosby was doing well in the starting role over the last few weeks.
  • Russell said that his decision to move Pedro Alvarez up into the No. 2 hole was done in hopes that he’d see more pitches to hit batting in front of Andrew McCutchen. It’s also a spot where opposing managers will have to think twice before bringing in a situational lefty to face Alvarez. Why? Because hitting behind Alvarez is McCutchen, who is a career .341 hitter against lefties. So you either burn two pitchers in a span of two hitters, or you take your chances against McCutchen.
  • Left-hander Dana Eveland cleared waivers and has been sent to Triple-A Indianapolis. It remains to be seen whether Eveland will pitch in a starting or relieving role with the Indians.
  • Right-hander Chris Jakubauskas will continue his Minor League rehab work in Triple-A now. Jakubauskas last pitched for high-A Bradenton on June 27. He went 4 1/3 innings and allowed seven hits and three earned runs in that outing. He will be used in a multi-inning relief and spot starting role. The Pirates have not announced a specific timetable for a potential return yet.
  • Speaking of timetables, as I noted earlier in the week, don’t expect to see Zach Duke to be back until after the All-Star break. He’s scheduled to throw off the mound for the first time during this homestand and will likely need two side sessions before then making a Minor League rehab start.
  • Happy Anniversary to Garrett Jones, who on this day last year arrived in Pittsburgh and established himself as a key piece in this lineup not long after. In 159 games over the past year, Jones has batted .289 with 38 doubles, 31 homers and 91 RBIs. Only 10 players in the National League have more home runs during that year-long span.
  • With his save on Wednesday, seven of Octavio Dotel’s 16 saves this year have come against the Cubs. That is the most saves against any team before the start of July since saves started being officially recorded in 1969 (thanks Elias Sports Bureau for that tidbit).

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June 2: Cubs (24-29) @ Pirates (22-31)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

MLB released All-Star Game online voting totals on Tuesday, and once again, the Pirates didn’t have a player dent the Top 5 (or Top 15 with outfielders). The glaring omission, obviously, has to be center fielder Andrew McCutchen.

Consider that he entered Wednesday…

  • Ranked 2nd among all NL outfielders with a .310 batting average
  • Ranked 6th among all NL outfielders with a .385 on-base percentage
  • Ranked 2nd among all NL outfielders with 13 stolen bases
  • Ranked 2nd among all NL outfielders with 61 hits

Sure, McCutchen is not among the HR and RBI leaders, but that’s not where he is expected to be. There’s no doubt that McCutchen has caught the idea of players/coaches/managers around the league all year — I’m always getting quotes (unsolicited) about the outfielder from our MLB.com writers covering other teams — but he’s just not getting the public recognition his season deserves. Part of that likely has to do with the fact that he doesn’t play for a big-market team or for a top club. We’ll see if it changes as the month progresses.

Voting will continue online at MLB.com for another month. You can cast your vote here. Updated NL voting totals will be released weekly.

TODAY’S NEWS AND NOTES:

  • This moustache and high socks fad has caught on in the clubhouse, but I’m going to make you read more about Bobby Crosby’s initial challenge to grow out the facial hair in the Pirates Beat on the main site a little later. Don’t expect to see any razors until the team loses.
  • In case you missed it after last night’s game, lefty Jack Taschner has been activated off the DL and Steven Jackson was optioned back to Triple-A Indianapolis.
  • First baseman Steve Pearce (sprained right ankle) was cleared to hit off the tee on Wednesday for the first time. “Moving on up,” he said, smiling. He has not yet begun any sort of running. That will be last on the list.
  • Starter Chris Jakubauskas is headed to Bradenton, Fla., tomorrow to continue his throwing program. He threw two sides here and will throw at least two more sides and two sessions of batting practice down there before the Pirates continue a Minor League rehab assignment. The best news continues to be that he is feeling no more effects from being hit in the head on a line drive.
  • Outfielder Ryan Church may have come back from a bruised right wrist injury weeks ago, but he said on Wednesday that this series has marked the first time since the initial injury (May 7) that the wrist hasn’t affected him.
  • Jeff Karstens is likely to start for the Pirates on Sunday, though manager John Russell hesitated to say that was etched in stone. Newly-acquired Dana Eveland is unlikely to be ready to join the rotation by then. And Brian Burres is being skipped.
  • As for Burres, Russell said he’d be a bullpen option tonight, but the plans for him moving forward were fuzzy. That sure seems to suggest that he might be on his way out when Eveland arrives on Friday. The numbers just don’t seem to add up otherwise.
  • Pirates president Frank Coonelly held his monthly online chat on Wednesday, and here is the transcript. Coonelly discussed the Draft throughout, and to complement that, I’ll have two Draft stories coming out over the next two days to go into more detail on the Pirates’ Draft plans.
  • While we’re talking Draft, MLB.com Draft guru Jonathan Mayo made his latest first-round predictions on Wednesday. His guess at who the Pirates will take with the No. 2 pick? High school shortstop Manny Machado. Though he cautions everyone not to count out high school pitcher Jameson Taillon. Here is Mayo’s full list.
  • For those of you not close enough to get FSN Pittsburgh, MLB Network has announced that it will be telvising Stephen Strasburg’s Major League debut against the Pirates next Tuesday. You had to figure that was coming…
  • Recently benched second baseman Aki Iwamura was out taking groundballs at third base this afternoon. Iwamura played third during his time in Japan, and the Pirates are refamiliarizing him with the position so that he can be an option there off the bench.
  • How good have the Pirates been against the Cubs this year? Well, the team is 7-1 and has won five straight games against Chicago at PNC Park. That comes after the Pirates went 1-8 in their previous nine against the Cubs. Garrett Jones and McCutchen have been especially potent against Chicago pitching — the two have combined to go 27-for-53 with four homers, 17 RBIs and 17 runs scored.
  • According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Pirates’ seven wins this season while scoring three or fewer runs trails only the Padres, who have won 12 times while scoring no more than three runs.

Pirates lineup:

  1. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  2. Neil Walker (2B)
  3. Lastings Milledge (LF)
  4. Garrett Jones (1B)
  5. Ryan Church (RF)
  6. Ryan Doumit (C)
  7. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  8. Ronny Cedeno (SS)
  9. Zach Duke (LHP)

Cubs lineup:

  1. Ryan Theriot (2B)
  2. Jeff Baker (RF)
  3. Marlon Byrd (CF)
  4. Xavier Nady (1B)
  5. Aramis Ramirez (3B)
  6. Alfonso Soriano (LF)
  7. Geovany Soto (C)
  8. Starlin Castro (SS)
  9. Carlos Zambrano (RHP)

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May 18: Pirates (16-22) @ Phillies (24-13)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

It’s cold and it’s overcast, but maybe we can get this game in tonight without any significant delays. The players certainly don’t want to get home at 3-4 am. And those of us who have to wait until tomorrow morning to fly out would appreciate some sleep. So hopefully the rain cooperates.

You’d have to think, too, that if this game starts, the Phillies are not going to want there to be any sort of delay since Roy Halladay is on the mound. Worst-case scenario for them is to send Halladay out and then have a lengthy delay shortly after that takes him out of the start.

This isn’t the first time Zach Duke and Halladay have matched up. The last was a dandy one, too. You can revisit it here.

TODAY’S NEWS AND NOTES:

  • Forgot to note this yesterday, but with all the questions I get about when Pedro Alvarez, Brad Lincoln and Jose Tabata will be up, I felt it appropriate to write a story on the subject. If you missed it on Monday, here’s that piece. While I know Alvarez is the biggest name in the bunch, my guess is that he won’t be the first up. My guess is that it will be Lincoln. The right-hander is meeting the organization’s development goals consistently these days, and Brian Burres’ hold on the fifth spot in the rotation isn’t exactly firm. If Burres slips up on Wednesday or in the start after that, I can see the Pirates making the move.
  • As mentioned on Monday, the Pirates are still looking for their first winning road trip under manager John Russell. No easy task with Halladay on the mound, but Pittsburgh can clinch that with a win tonight.
  • Reliever Brendan Donnelly threw a pain-free side session indoors on Tuesday. His simulated game couldn’t happen because of the crummy weather. All went well, Donnelly said, and the Pirates plan to activate him off the DL on Thursday or Friday.
  • Who is the most likely to go when Donnelly returns? My guess is it would be either Jeff Karstens or Burres. If the Pirates want to make a change in the rotation, Burres could be sent out and the club would have a few extra days before making a decision about the rotation. That might be why the Pirates aren’t planning on activating Donnelly until after Burres’ start on Wednesday. Just thinking outloud here…
  • Delwyn Young is back in the leadoff spot on Tuesday for the second straight night. And why not? He had as much success last night as anyone. And again, the Pirates really don’t have a prototypical leadoff-type hitter with Aki Iwamura out.
  • Take away his absence with a bruised wrist, and Ryan Church has now started 10 straight games. I asked Russell if Church is going to be a regular in the lineup moving forward. Russell said it won’t necessarily be every day, but he does like having Church flexible to play in left and right so Russell can play the best matchups with everyone else.
  • Third baseman Andy LaRoche has just three hits in his last 34 at-bats. This comes after a 20-for-53 stretch he had right before.
  • The Pirates announced the signings of six Latin American players on Tuesday. Those players include LHP Angel Sanchez, OF Willy Garcia, RHP Oderman Rocha, RHP Brayan Almonte, RHP Jose Luis Acosta and 1B Jose Roman.
  • The Pirates announced that OF Starling Marte had successful surgery on Tuesday to remove the hamate bone in his left hand. No tendon damage was found, so Marte should be ready to return in 8-10 weeks.

Pirates lineup:

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

Phillies lineup:

  1. Shane Victorino (CF)
  2. Placido Polanco (3B)
  3. Jimmy Rollins (SS)
  4. Ryan Howard (1B)
  5. Jayson Werth (RF)
  6. Ben Francisco (LF)
  7. Carlos Ruiz (C)
  8. Juan Castro (2B)
  9. Roy Halladay (RHP)

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May 14: Pirates (14-20) @ Cubs (15-20)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Friday’s game begins a stretch of 20 games in 20 days, which will take the team into June. Depending on how things go — particularly if it’s to one extreme or the other — this three-week period could also set the season on its final course.

The Pirates enter this series on the heels of four straight losses, the last three to a Cincinnati team that gave up just one earned run. The Pirates haven’t scored since Monday, and they’ve had just 10 hits since Sunday’s game ended.

The numbers are not pretty. And since I feel like I’ve rehashed them enough already, I’ll stop there. Maybe the only bit of good news is that the wind is currently blowing out of Wrigley Field.

TODAY’S NEWS AND NOTES:

  • You’ll notice that shortstop Ronny Cedeno is back in the lineup after nursing a sore wrist these last few days.
  • Ryan Church’s wrist is improving, too, enough to where Russell said the outfielder could likely have started today if needed. Plan on seeing Church start Saturday’s game.
  • Right-hander Brendan Donnelly threw 25 pitches off the Wrigley Field mound on Friday as he works his way back from an oblique strain. Donnelly is scheduled to throw another side session on Sunday and then pitch a simulated game in Philadelphia early next week. That has him on target to come off the DL when the Pirates return home next week, as expected.
  • You heard it here first: Pirates broadcaster John Wehner has predicted home runs from Lastings Milledge and Andy LaRoche today. The fact that the two have a combined three all season makes me a bit skeptical, but I wanted to make sure to document the prediction so Wehner can get credit if he’s right.
  • Here’s another one of those not-so-pretty notes from Elias: Three times this season a team has been outhit by 14 hits. Two times the Pirates have been involved. They were outhit, 25-8, by the Brewers on April 22. The Reds then outhit the Pirates, 15-1, on Tuesday.
  • Second baseman Aki Iwamura remains atop the Pirates’ lineup despite his .169 average and .267 on-base percentage. Even worse, Iwamura has gone 2-for-35 since the beginning of May. Still, the struggling infielder is going to stay in the lineup for now — which you can read more about on pirates.com in a bit. I know that many of you (since I have heard from you) disagree, but you can find manager John Russell’s explanation for sticking with Iwamura in today’s story.
  • Left-hander Brian Burres enters Friday having pitched 13 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings. Only Evan Meek, who didn’t allow a run during a 15-inning stretch from April 15 to May 7, has gone longer for the Pirates this season.
  • A Pirates alumni update: Former closer Matt Capps has as many saves for Washington as the Pirates have wins (14).
  • Another former Pittsburgh pitcher, Tom Gorzelanny, makes the start against the Pirates on Friday. He has allowed one earned run on three hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings against Pittsburgh since being traded to Chicago.

Pirates lineup:

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

Cubs lineup:

  1. Ryan Theriot (2B)
  2. Marlon Byrd (CF)
  3. Derrek Lee (1B)
  4. Xavier Nady (RF)
  5. Aramis Ramirez (3B)
  6. Alfonso Soriano (LF)
  7. Geovany Soto (C)
  8. Starlin Castro (SS)
  9. Tom Gorzelanny (LHP)

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May 11: Reds (17-15) @ Pirates (14-18)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

April showers bring May flowers… except in Pittsburgh, apparently. It’s cold. It’s rainy. It’s gloomy. And we’ll see if we have baseball.

Stay tuned.

TODAY’S NEWS AND NOTES:

  • Ryan Church took some swings this afternoon and is available to pinch hit. His wrist is still too sore to allow him to take a game’s worth of at-bats, but he is progressing.
  • Delwyn Young makes his second start of the season in right field tonight. It’s still quite interesting how Young seems to have much better success as a pinch hitter than he does starting. That was the case last year, and it’s shaping up to be the case again in 2010. He has five hits in his last six pinch-hit at-bats and six altogether this season. As a starter, Young is 6-for-28.
  • Hayden Penn, who was being stretched out in extended Spring Training, has been officially placed on Triple-A Indianapolis’ roster and is scheduled to start tonight.
  • So, we all made it through the G20 Summit here in Pittsburgh last September, but interestingly enough, Toronto has decided not to try. You’ll remember pictures of tanks and armed military personnel and helicopters during last year’s series against the Dodgers while the G20 took place across the river. Well, Toronto is hosting the Summit in June and has announced that it is moving its home series against the Phillies to Philadelphia instead of dealing with the same security issues.
  • The Pirates have brought back the “You Score as the Bucs Score” promotion. For every run the team scores in Chicago from Friday-Sunday, that’s $1 off a $24 left or right field box seat during the team’s home series against the Braves (May 21-23). There will be 2,500 tickets for each game set aside for this promotion. More information can be found here.
  • The Pirates’ recent offensive production doesn’t bode well for this promotion, though. Outside of the 11 runs scored last Thursday, the Pirates have totaled 17 runs in the other six games combined during this homestand. The offense ranks 14th in th league with a .240 batting average. The Pirates rank 15th with 114 total runs scored.
  • Pittsburgh pitchers have not allowed a home run in the last 57 innings pitched. Even still, the staff’s 38 home runs allowed this season is the league’s third-highest total.
  • Triple-A outfielder Jose Tabata now has 17 stolen bases in 28 games this year. He is also leading the International League with 42 total hits.

Pirates lineup:

  1. Aki Iwamura (2B)
  2. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  3. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  4. Garrett Jones (1B)
  5. Ryan Doumit (C)
  6. Lastings Milledge (LF)
  7. Delwyn Young (RF)
  8. Ronny Cedeno (SS)
  9. Charlie Morton (RHP)

Reds lineup:

  1. Chris Heisey (CF)
  2. Brandon Phillips (2B)
  3. Joey Votto (1B)
  4. Scott Rolen (3B)
  5. Jay Bruce (RF)
  6. Jonny Gomes (LF)
  7. Ramon Hernandez (C)
  8. Paul Janish (SS)
  9. Johnny Cueto (RHP)

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May 7: Cardinals (18-11) @ Pirates (13-15)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

It’s good to be back in the press box if for no other reason that I was getting really antsy being stuck in bed all day yesterday. Yes, my “day off” on Thursday was not planned. That flu that was going around the clubhouse… I got it. I’ll be sure to thank Ryan Church later.

I’ve got a trusty box of kleenex at my side to help get me through tonight. Let’s hope.

The good news is that I appear to be the last of the flu-stricken around here, so nine healthy players should be taking the field tonight for Pittsburgh.

PREGAME NEWS AND NOTES:

  • Jeff Clement is out of the lineup for the third straight game and fourth time in the last five games. He has been working on simplifying his approach at the plate (less movement, not so defined a rotation in his swing) and the plan ahead of time was not to have Clement play while he made the adjustments. Manager John Russell estimated that after another two or three days of Clement working on these changes, he’d be ready to get back into the lineup.
  • Clement’s absence has benefited Church, who is in the lineup for the seventh straight game. Church has reached base safely in all nine games he’s played at PNC Park. He comes in, too, with homers in two of his last three games.
  • It might not matter what Jeff Karstens does in his start tomorrow because it sounds like the Pirates are going to stick with Brian Burres as their fifth starter once Ross Ohlendorf returns. Said Russell: “In my opinion, I think he deserves an opportunity to continue to pitch.” Because Ohlendorf will step into Burres’ spot in the rotation, that would likely push Burres’ next start until next Friday. Russell mentioned the possibility of Burres making a relief appearance during that layoff to stay fresh.
  • One more notable item about Burres’ performance on Thursday… Burres became just the second Pirates pitcher over the last five seasons to win consecutive games while making a scoreless appearance of at least five innings. The other? Karstens, in August 2008.
  • Triple-A right-hander Brad Lincoln made a strong start for Indianapolis last night. In six innings, he allowed one earned run on six hits and two walks. Lincoln struck out seven. Pedro Alvarez had a three-run homer in the 9-2 win.
  • The Cardinals come to town having lost three straight (to the Phillies), though a look up and down their lineup is a reminder of how much success some of these St. Louis hitters have had recently against Pittsburgh. Seven current hitters batted .300 or better against the Pirates last season: Albert Pujols (.463), Matt Holliday (.455). Skip Schumaker (.395). Khalil Greene (.375), Ryan Ludwick (.349), Jason LaRue (.333), David Freese (.333).
  • Ludwick has hit safely in 21 of his last 25 games against the Pirates. Pujols has 23 career home runs and a .389 average at PNC Park,
  • On the pitching end, Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter has a 10-game winning streak against the Pirates, dating back to June 29, 2004. In all, he is 11-1 with a 2.27 ERA in 13 career starts against Pittsburgh.
  • Mound opponent Zach Duke is 3-1 with a 3.05 ERA in seven career home starts against St. Louis. The key for Duke to break out of his recent funk? “I think more consistent with his sinker, more consistent with his spots,” said Russell. “I think the last few games he’s gotten away from that a little bit. He has lost some of his consistency down. I think he’s ready to make that adjustment.”
  • Before tonight’s game, Ohlendorf and reliever Joel Hanrahan will honor eight area high school students who are Captains of the Pittsburgh Action Team. This team has raised awareness about the importance of community service and volunteering.
  • While I was out on Thursday, the Pirates announced that they had signed LHP Wilson Lee (Australia). The 18-year-old will play in the Major League Baseball Australian Academy this year.

Pirates lineup:

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

Cardinals lineup:

  1. Skip Schumaker (2B)
  2. Ryan Ludwick (RF)
  3. Albert Pujols (1B)
  4. Matt Holliday (LF)
  5. David Freese (3B)
  6. Yadier Molina (C)
  7. Colby Rasmus (CF)
  8. Chris Carpenter (RHP)
  9. Brendan Ryan (SS)

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May 5: Cubs (13-14) @ Pirates (11-15)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

For all the terms laced upon baseball players these days — hero, superstar, larger than life, etc. — sometimes it is nice to be reminded that at the core, these guys are just like anyone else. Being around them so much, I see that. But I know that the public has a tendency to put athletes on a pedestal.

Maybe that’s why I felt inclined to share something Octavio Dotel told reporters after Tuesday’s win. After Dotel was asked a few baseball-related questions, someone asked the closer about his new baby boy, Eduardo, who was born on Sunday. Dotel lit up as any proud papa would do:  

“It’s been great,” he said. “Every hour that I wake up, I see my little one and it makes me really excited and happy. Now I live for someone who needs me. That’s really nice to see my boy every morning when I wake up.”

Baseball isn’t everything to these guys, so maybe we should all make sure not to define them solely by that. Just my thought for the day.

Onto your news and notes for Wednesday…

  • Center fielder Andrew McCutchen is back in the lineup (insert collective sigh here) after missing Tuesday’s game with a mild right ankle sprain. He tested the ankle out this afternoon and was cleared to return. Watching him from this vantage point, McCutchen seemed to be running just fine.
  • Expected to be an everyday player coming into the season, Lastings Milledge has been given his fair share of days off to this point. He’s not in the lineup on Wednesday, marking the fifth time he’s been out of the starting lineup. Manager John Russell’s explanation continues to be that he wants his bench guys (i.e. outfielder Ryan Church) to stay active. But with Milledge hitting just .171 since April 21, Milledge is going to have to start proving that he belongs as a regular.
  • Recently recalled first baseman Steve Pearce will get his first start tonight. As I mentioned yesterday, don’t be surprised if you slowly see a platoon situation develop between the right-handed hitting Pearce and the left-handed hitting Jeff Clement, assuming Pearce fares well. Pearce is 3-for-7 lifetime against Cubs starter Ted Lilly.
  • Clement is hitless in his last 19 at-bats.
  • In case you missed it, Double-A lefty Rudy Owens tossed six no-hit innings and notched 11 strikeouts on Tuesday. You can read his thoughts on the outing here.
  • Ross Ohlendorf will make his Minor League rehab start with Double-A Altoona tonight. First pitch is at 7:05 pm. There will be an update on the outing later tonight, but obviously it wouldn’t be until much later. The club is still hopeful that Ohlendorf will be ready to make a May 10 start in Pittsburgh.
  • Andy LaRoche spent a good part of BP visiting with two local children as a part of his Down Syndrome initiative. LaRoche is involved in all sorts of outreach to local children with Down Syndrome and that includes 6-7 visits that he has set up where he invites kids with Down Syndrome to the ballpark. This was the first of those visits.

Pirates lineup:

  1. Bobby Crosby (2B)
  2. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  3. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  4. Garrett Jones (RF)
  5. Ryan Doumit (C)
  6. Ryan Church (LF)
  7. Steve Pearce (1B)
  8. Ronny Cedeno (SS)
  9. Charlie Morton (RHP)

Cubs lineup:

  1. Ryan Theriot (SS)
  2. Kosuke Fukudome (RF)
  3. Derrek Lee (1B)
  4. Marlon Byrd (CF)
  5. Alfonso Soriano (LF)
  6. Aramis Ramirez (3B)
  7. Mike Fontenot (2B)
  8. Koyie Hill (C)
  9. Ted Lilly (LHP)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

May 2: Pirates (10-14) @ Dodgers (10-14)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Garrett Jones spoke about his food-stuck-in-the-esophagus ordeal this morning, and you can read more about that on pirates.com in a bit. In short, it was a piece of beef that got stuck where the esophagus meets the stomach. Doctors had to administer anesthesia to Jones at the hospital yesterday, and while Jones was under, the doctors went down his throat with tubes to dislodge the piece of meat. The procedure lasted about 30-45 minutes.

Jones is back in the lineup today, though he is still battling a sore throat. He said he slept pretty well last night, unlike on Friday.

Now that I’m done playing doctor, here’s the rest of your news…

  • With Jones’ throat now cleared, the larger concern is his production at the plate. Jones’ batting average has dropped to .207 since going 9-for-51 in his last 15 games.
  • Octavio Dotel has left the team to fly to Pittsburgh and be with his wife, who is about to give birth with their first child.
  • Manager John Russell said that closing duties would likely fall to either Joel Hanrahan or Evan Meek today if need be. He said it won’t be Brendan Donnelly, who hasn’t pitched since Tuesday. 
  • Speaking of Donnelly, he was somewhat under the weather this morning. Apparently he wasn’t the only one in the clubhouse not feeling great either as he said something was going around.
  • For the first time this season, the Pirates are hitting their pitcher in the ninth spot. You’ll remember that Russell had the pitcher hitting eighth early this season in order to get two hitters in front of No. 2 hitter Andrew McCutchen. Well, with McCutchen now hitting third, that’s accomplished even with a more traditional batting order.
  • Today wraps up the team’s only 10-game road trip of the season. The only other three-city trip the club will make the season comes in late June when they jump from Texas to Oakland to Chicago.
  • This is also the final game that the Dodgers and Pirates will play in 2010. The season series is 3-3 so far, and with a win on Sunday, Pittsburgh would have its first winning season against LA since 2000.
  • Ryan Church is back in the lineup, with struggling first baseman Jeff Clement getting the day off. The move makes obvious sense, too. Church is 27-for-69 lifetime at Dodger Stadium in 20 games. Clement, on the other hand, is hitless in his last 15 at-bats. He has struck out eight times in that span.

Pirates lineup:

  1. Lastings Milledge (LF)
  2. Aki Iwamura (2B)
  3. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  4. Garrett Jones (1B)
  5. Ryan Church (RF)
  6. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  7. Bobby Crosby (SS)
  8. Jason Jaramillo (C)
  9. Jeff Karstens (RHP)

Dodgers lineup:

  1. Xavier Paul (LF)
  2. Russell Martin (C)
  3. Andre Ethier (RF)
  4. Matt Kemp (CF)
  5. James Loney (1B)
  6. Ronnie Belliard (3B)
  7. Blake DeWitt (2B)
  8. Jamey Carroll (SS)
  9. Hiroki Kuroda (RHP)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

April 30: Pirates (10-12) @ Dodgers (8-14)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Dodger Stadium is proving to be a much more pleasant work setting today than it was yesterday. In addition to having issues with the blog software on Thursday (sorry, that’s why there was no usual pregame blog), the wind here yesterday was brutal. With winds apparently close to 40 mph, even laptops were being moved by the biggest gusts. It’s always a challenge when you’re trying to hold down your scorebook, notebooks, notes and media guide while typing.

And no, there were no windows to shield us from the element.

The winds are just mild today, so Charlie Morton won’t get the same benefit that Brian Burres did on Thursday when home runs were going to be near impossible to get through the wind tunnel. I feel like you could have labeled each of Morton’s last three starts as “critical” given his poor start, and this is yet another.

At some point — and the Pirates need it to be soon — Morton is going to have to prove that having great “stuff” can also make himself an effective big-league pitcher. As Morton told me yesterday, it all starts with his head. He hasn’t made any huge changes to his game plan. He simply wants to be aggressive and execute.

While we wait for Morton to take the mound, here is your news…

  • In case you missed it earlier, Kevin Hart was diagnosed with a torn labrum in his right shoulder on Friday. Pirates medical director Patrick DeMeo has recommended that Hart undergo season-ending surgery. Hart will seek a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews next week, but even he sounded resigned to the fact that his season is over when speaking by phone on Friday.
  • The Indianapolis rotation continues to be a merry-go-round of pitchers. The Pirates have already borrowed Chris Jakubauskas, Jeff Karstens and Burres. Now Hart is out for the season. Jakubauskas is recovering from a head injury, too. In order to fill Hart’s spot in the Triple-A rotation, the Pirates have promoted RHP Michael Crotta from Double-A Altoona.
  • Ross Ohlendorf gave the Pirates some good news on Friday with a 43-pitch start in an extended Spring Training game. Ohlendorf reported no issues with his back afterward. He was throwing consistently between 88-93 mph and reached 94 a few times with his fastball.
  • Ohlendorf will make a second rehab start on May 5 (location: TBD). If that goes well, he will make his return to the Pirates’ rotation on May 10.
  • That means that the Pirates will need to plug his spot in the rotation one more time. Burres is the most likely candidate to get that final spot start, though the Pirates haven’t written his name in pen yet.
  • Speaking of Triple-A starters, Brad Lincoln had a rocky outing with Indianapolis on Friday. He allowed six earned runs on seven hits in six innings against Pawtucket. He walked four and struck out three.
  • For those who didn’t stay up late last night, Evan Meek recorded his first Major League save on Thursday. Now, that does not mean the Pirates have a closer controversy going on. It was predetermined that Octavio Dotel would have the night off (he pitched two innings the day before), and Meek was simply the freshest arm. That said, you have to like what you saw from Meek in a 1-2-3 inning. He sure does seem to possess the skills — physically and mentally — to be a closer down the road.
  • Aki Iwamura is back in the leadoff spot after sitting with a cold on Thursday. He is 6-for-39 in his last 10 games.
  • Manager John Russell called it “just a day off” for left fielder Lastings Milledge on Friday. Russell has made it a point to keep his bench players active, especially Ryan Church. Russell noted he liked the matchup with Church against Chad Billingsley, though Church is just 2-for-14 against the right-hander. Church has had success at Dodger Stadium, however. Here he is 24-for-62 lifetime.
  • The Pirates’ shutout last night was their first at Dodger Stadium since 9/5/2000 when Jose Silva, Rich Loiselle and Marc Wilkins combined for one.
  • Though the Pirates have endured their share of blowout losses this season, the club is 7-1 in games decided by two runs or less. They’re 8-0 when leading after four innings, which is another sign of how dependant they are on decent starting pitching.
  • If the Pirates can win on Friday, it would mark the team’s first four-game road winning streak since 2007.

Pirates lineup:

  1. Aki Iwamura (2B)
  2. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  3. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  4. Garrett Jones (RF)
  5. Ryan Church (LF)
  6. Ryan Doumit (C)
  7. Jeff Clement (1B)
  8. Charlie Morton (RHP)
  9. Bobby Crosby (SS)

Dodgers lineup:

  1. Xavier Paul (LF)
  2. Russell Martin (C)
  3. Andre Ethier (RF)
  4. Matt Kemp (CF)
  5. James Loney (1B)
  6. Casey Blake (3B)
  7. Blake DeWitt (2B)
  8. Jamey Carroll (SS)
  9. Chad Billingsley (RHP)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

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