Thunder, lightning, rain...they'll try to do it again July 10th.
RHP Jimmy Barthmaier makes his major league debut tonight against Tampa Bay and LHP Scott Kazmir, who is 6-3 with a 2.03 ERA. Good luck, kid.
On the Pirate front: OK, they DL'ed Ian Snell for fifteen days. He comes back on July 8th. That cleared roster space for newcomer Denny Bautista.
Jimmy Barthmaier, who could get two starts, tomorrow against Tampa Bay and then against the Reds on July 2nd, will be the next addition to the team. They have to drop someone - likely TJ Beam - to make room for him.
Barthmaier, 24, has a good arm, with a 91-93 MPH fastball, a nice curve ball, and a decent change. He was highly regarded as a prospect in the Astro's organization until 2007, when the wheels fell off and they cut him. Barthmaier looked mediocre at Altoona, but picked it up in Indy to punch his ticket to PNC.
There's an open date on July 3rd, so they can get away with a spot start Saturday, since Phil Dumatrait comes back on the 5th. They have a lot of options for that slot, so we'll see what they come up with. They should announce that starter after tonight's game or sometime tomorrow.
GM Neal Huntington wouldn't rule out JVB, who pitched four innings on Tuesday, from getting the nod to make Saturday's start.
He was reported to have no further problems with his right shoulder or the blister that bothered him in his previous start, so we have to include him in the mix of possible pitchers. In fact, he's probably the front runner.
If they bring up an extra arm from the minors on Saturday, and the guy they send down is either Sean Burnett or Franquelis Osoria, the Pirates risk losing him.
Burnett can declare free agency if the Pirates designate him, and Osoria is out of options, so he would have to clear waivers. Right now, Osario should be the odd man out based on performance, but John Russell just loves him, sooo...
Then again, if Barthmaier doesn't impress in his start, he could go back down and make it all academic. We're unsure about the options, so he could get yoyoed back and forth either way, which would be the cleanest way to handle the roster.
> From the noise the Pirate brass is making, they look at Denny Bautista as a bullpen guy. They'll start him out as the long man - maybe manager Russell will use him, who knows? - and if they can control his wild thing, they hope for another Tyler Yates type back-end reliever.
On the hot stove front: From Jayson Stark of ESPN - "For weeks, the Braves have focused on adding starting pitching. But in recent days, they've shifted their M.O. to adding a bat, who would almost certainly land in left field.
Clubs that have spoken with the Braves report that they're targeting only guys who could represent another "certified threat" in their lineup. So given the dearth of that sort of creature, three to keep your eye on are Raul Ibanez, Jason Bay and Xavier Nady."
On the minor league front: CF Andrew McCutchen, the Pirates' top gun at Indy, has been selected to play in the 2008 Futures Game. He's batting .283 with 8 homers, 31 RBI and 21 stolen bases. McCutch has a .363 OBP and .423 slugging percentage.
The Futures Game will be played July 13 at Yankee Stadium as part of the All-Star festivities.
> Indy RF Steve Pearce hit his 10th and 11th home runs and went 3 for 4. His batting average is a healthy .270 now. 3B Neil Walker smacked his 12th home run. It's HR or no count for him - he's hitting a sickly .223.
> CF Chris Duffy got two more hits for Altoona, and is batting .313.
On the ex-Pirate front: AP reports that the Houston Astros have released Shawn Chacon, opting to cut the right-hander a day after he reportedly grabbed GM Ed Wade by the neck and threw him to the ground.
The team requested waivers on Chacon on Thursday for the purpose of giving him his unconditional release. If he isn't claimed by another major league team by Monday, waivers will expire and his contract will be terminated without pay.