Raul Chavez must read the local sports pages. After an article that mentioned he's being considered for the backup catcher's spot when Ryan Doumit returns, he went out and drove in three runs with a two-out single and a sac fly, and coaxed Zach Duke through another very creditable outing, a 5-2 Bucco win.
Chavez has started 6 of the last 7 games, and the staff has responded to him. If memory serves, except for Ian Snell's game, they've all ended up good starts for the beleaguered rotation.
Zachster is now 3-4, tossing a 7 hitter over 7-2/3 innings, and his ERA is down to 4.19. It's about time, too - the starting five have been in a slump longer than Adam LaRoche.
With the draft tomorrow, the brass should be ready to hit trade mode in a couple of weeks or so. We expect to see some movement early this year, certainly before the deadline. The new Bucs are just around the bend.
On the minor league front: RHP Jimmy Barthmaier (6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K) retired the first 13 batters he faced, but settled for a no-decision in his second Triple-A start at Indy. The suits must like what they saw; he was supposed to be returned to Altoona after a spot start last week.
Andrew McCutcheon had three hits and is now batting .290.
On the ex-Pirate front: Experts still stay Kenny Lofton will be back in July or August - but only if he drops his $6M price tag way down.
>ESPN reports that Esteban Loaiza is back with the White Sox, this time as a reliever. Loaiza, 36, pitched in seven games for the Dodgers this year before being DFA'd to make room for Clayton Kershaw. He's back with pitching coach Don Cooper, who helped him win 21 games in '03.