> According to Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors.com, Derrick Turnbow has three teams kicking his tires - Pittsburgh, Colorado, and San Francisco. He'll audition for them in January.
Turnbow throws in the mid-to-upper 90s, but hasn't been effective since 2005. He's been a victim of the dread Steve Blass disease, walking 13 in 6-1/3 innings for the Brew Crew last year, and issuing 41 free passes in 18 innings at AAA Nashville while uncorking 10 wild pitches. We guess hope does spring eternal.
> Dejan Kovacevic of the Post Gazette confirmed that the Pirates have contacted David Eckstein, verified by his agent Ryan Gliechowski.
He also says that Atlanta has asked Pittsburgh about Nate McLouth and Paul Maholm, according to his sources. DK warns that although his grapevine says the interest is real, the price the Pirates will seek may be prohibitive, even for the talent-deep Braves.
> Rob Beirtempfel of the Tribune Review adds that at least four teams other than the Bucs, including the Baltimore Orioles and San Diego Padres, reportedly are after Eckstein, too.
He also writes that the Pirates have not yet signed minor-league free agent Chi-Hung Cheng, as reported. However, a Pittsburgh official confirmed that negotiations are under way with the left-hander.
Cheng, 22, spent the past five seasons in the Toronto Blue Jays' system. He went 5-9 with a 4.88 ERA in 25 games (14 starts) last season for Class A Lansing.
> John Perrotto of the Beaver County Times reports that "Minnesota and Baltimore have some interest in Wilson but there doesn’t appear to be anything imminent. The Orioles are willing to offer right-hander Daniel Cabrera, who led the American League in walks last season, but it is unclear if the Twins would trade left-handed hitting outfielder Delmon Young for a one-year rental at shortstop."
He thinks LA is out of the mix.
Perrotto also adds that "Atlanta has interest in a couple of Pirates starting pitchers, left-hander Paul Maholm and right-hander Ian Snell, but won’t give up top pitching prospect Tommy Hanson in a trade. Washington also has interest in Snell."
> The Mark Loretta to Pittsburgh rumors bit the dust. He signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract with the Dodgers in the wee hours this morning.
> The Mets are interested in keeping Pedro Martinez and plan to meet with the Dominican's agent soon, GM Omar Minaya informed Enrique Rojas of ESPNdeportes.com. today. Dejan Kovacevic of the Post Gazette has Pedro on the Buc's shopping list, too.
> Phil Dumatrait hasn't begun his pitching program yet after surgery, and may start the year in the pen or on the DL, says Jennifer Langosch of MLB.com.
She adds that Brandon Moss is on schedule for camp, but will be babied by the Bucs until they're sure his bum wheel can take a MLB pounding.
> Pirates' pitchers and catchers will report to Bradenton on February 13th, and position players will be reporting on the 16th. The pre-season schedule will be 35 games this year, reflecting an extra week of scrimmaging because of the World Baseball Classic. The season starts on April 6th at St. Louis, and the home opener will be on the 13th against the Astros.
> 73-year old Tony Kubek, the All-Star shortstop of the Yankees who was the voice of NBC's "Game of the Week" telecasts for over two decades, won the Hall of Fame's Ford C. Frick Award on Tuesday. Long-time Pirate broadcaster Lanny Frattare, who just recently announced his retirement, was one of the 10 finalists for the honor.
Frattare spent 33 years as Pittsburgh's play-by-play man, leaving as the team's longest tenured broadcaster. He passed the Gunner, Bob Prince, in 2004 when Lanny rang up his 29th year in the Buc booth.
John Mehno of the Altoona Mirror says that Frattare is looking at some options for the future. He's expressed an interest in the unfilled AD job at Upper St. Clair High School, left vacant when Ted Peterson took a college job.
Frattare is also checking out openings in the Atlanta Braves' broadcast booth, and made his interest to get behind a mike again known to the new MLB network that launches next month.