Matt Capps is continuing to progress in his throwing program and is still on schedule to return to the club within eight weeks. Circle September 2.
> It's probably safe to head to your car after the eighth inning tonight. The Padres are 1-54 when trailing after eight innings, and the Pirates are 5-49. Of course, that means they're pretty dang good when up after eight. Trevor Hoffman, Matt Capps and Damaso Marte have a lot to do with that.
> Goose Gossage is getting ready to enter the hallowed HOF. He pitched in an era when relievers routinely were given the ball in the seventh inning and asked to close out the game.
"When we went out to play we honestly thought it was a six-inning game," Padre teammate Tony Gwynn said. "If you didn't do much damage against us in the first six innings, Goose was going to come in and shut the door. I saw him do it a lot."
52 of his 310 saves were in games in which he recorded seven or more outs, so 17% of his saves were earned working 2-1/3 innings or more. That's some arm. The Pirate starters are lucky to average that many innings most days.
> Not much new on the rumor front. The Mets are supposedly looking at lower priced OF's, cooling on Xavier Nady, whom the Braves have scouted while they decide if they're gonna be bears or bulls at the deadline. The Phils are looking for left-handed bullpen help and seem out of the Nady bidding, too. The Rays and Yankees seem the hottest to trot after the X Man. Otherwise, same old, same old.
> Pittsburgh's favorite wanna-be owner is a step closer to getting his paws on the Cubs. Internet billionaire and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is one of three finalists in the Cubbie sweepstakes.
The others are the Ricketts family, which founded the brokerage that is now TD Ameritrade Holding Corp., and a group led by Sports Acquisition Holding Corp. that includes Henry Aaron and Jack Kemp.
On the minor league front: Indy won behind some strong pitching last night, 3-1. LHP Corey Hamman (1-1, 3.45) allowed one run and four hits in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out one and walked four.
RHP Evan Meek (2.86) pitched 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief for his first save. He struck out four with no free passes. Meek's starting to get it; in 22 innings, he's K'ed 17 and walked just 5.
The pride of Pine-Richland, 3B Neil Walker (.234), was 2 for 4, with a double and RBI. SS Brian Bixler (.283) finished with two hits and a run scored.
According to farm director Kyle Stark, C Ronny Paulino remains in Bradenton, where he is rehabbing a sprained right ankle. He's working through a running program and is near the point where he can return to action. The plan is for Paulino to play a few GCL games before returning to Indy.
> The Curve won 6-3 behind the bats of RF Brad Corley (.289), who went 3 for 4 with three doubles, and 2B Angel Gonzalez (.412), who went 3 for 4. C Steven Lerud (.215) hit a two-run home run in the sixth, with three RBI, two runs scored and a walk.
> Lynchburg romped, 9-3. RHP Brad Lincoln (1-1, 8.00), in his second Hillcat start, allowed three runs and six hits in five innings, striking out three. LF Jared Keel (.212) hit his 11th and 12th home runs and went 2 for 3 with five RBIs.
> Hickory was shut out 3-0. The hard-luck loser was RHP Matt McSwain (3-4, 2.03), who yielded one run and four hits in five innings. He struck out six and walked two.
> State College's game was suspended due to rain last night. SS Silvio Pena (.296) went 3 for 5 with an RBI and CF Ciro Rosero (.208) added two doubles and scored.
> Bradenton won in the GCL, and 2B Adenson Chourio (.326) kept the hot wand going. He was 3 for 4 with a walk and an RBI. 3B Andury Acevedo (.178) was 2 for 3 with two RBI, two runs scored and a walk and 1B Alex Vargas (.299) went 2-4.
On the draft front: The Pirate suits are chafing at the bit waiting for Pedro to sign on the dotted line. They wanted him in the minors ASAP; he made it plain he was finishing school.
We think he'll sign by deadline day. It'd take a heck of a gap in the bonus money to make him give up those paychecks for a year.
Tim Beckham, the top overall pick, signed with Tampa Bay for a $6.15 million bonus. Pitcher David Price, the No. 1 overall pick in 2007, inked a six-year, $8.5 million contract with a $5.6 million signing bonus. So the Pirate's assumed signing bonus of $6M is certainly in the ballpark.
> Tanner Scheppers should be in town this weekend to take an exam and toss the pill around in front of the Bucco honchos.