Saturday, February 28, 2009

Bucs Hammer Four Homers, Hold Off 'Stros

* Hey, the Pirates played longball (well, it was windy) against the Astros today, and it was just enough to edge the Texans, 6-5.

Brandon Moss, Robinzon Diaz, Craig Monroe, and Jeff Salazar went deep, and in typical Bucco style, three were solo shots. The Bucs also added a little giddy-up to their game with Andrew McCutchen and Nyjer Morgan swiping sacks, though Ramon Vazquez got caught. The Astro's stole three bases of their own.

Paul Maholm was sharp, getting the win after two innings of one-hit ball with a couple of K's. Jeff Karstens got tagged for a run on a Brian Bixler boot (talk about your broken record!), and Matt Capps, Evan Meek and Craig Hansen each added a scoreless inning with a K to the cause.

Denny Bautista and Jesse Chavez didn't fare so well, each giving up a deuce. Both of Chavez's runs came with two down (that third out is so hard to get sometimes), but Bautista's outing was just plain bad.

If you want the inning-by-inning, blow-by-blow rundown, Eron of the North Shore Notch live-blogged the contest.

The 3-1 Bucs will host the Tigers tomorrow afternoon. Jimmy Barthmaier is expected to go for the Bucs, against Detroit's Justin Verlander. We'll see what words of wisdom Jimmy Leyland has to impart to his still loyal Pittsburgh fan base.

* On the aches and pains front, Eric Hinske's bruised ribs could take anywhere from a couple of days to a week to recover. Luis Cruz is about 100%; he should be ready to play tomorrow or Monday. And Phil Dumatrait will pitch BP next week; he may be a couple of weeks away from throwing in a game, according to the Post Gazette.

* The Pirate minor league camp will start March 6th, and the young uns' are reporting already. The positions for the lower levels are starting to fall in place after last year's infield-loaded class got their feet wet, according to's Jen Langosch.

Jarek Cunningham, the Pirates' 18th-round pick, played 11 games at short and 26 games at third in the GCL last summer. He raked at Bradenton, and the Bucs want to keep him in the everyday lineup.

Both Chase d'Arnaud (fourth round) and Jordy Mercer (third round) are slotted to be everyday shortstops at the Class A levels. Third base is taken up by Jeremy Farrell (eighth round) and Matthew Hague (ninth round). We imagine there will be a spot at the hot corner for Pedro, too, probably at Lynchburg or Altoona.

So to unblock the high school whiz, Cunningham is making a move to second. It's a good idea; there's not much behind Shelby Ford and Jim Negrych, the assumed AAA and AA starters this season.

Kyle Stark added that the jury is still out on Daniel Moskos starting or working out of the pen. "We've got to decide throughout Spring Training if it's better for him to get more opportunities or more innings," he explained.

* The Post Gazette and Tribune Review both did a piece on Canadian minor-leaguer Dave Davidson, who joins Nyjer Morgan as a hockey player turned baseballer. "I was a goon," Davidson told them, with a laugh. "I led the league in scoring and in penalty minutes. I'd score two goals, get in a fight and go home."

* How low has baseball's reputation sunk thanks to its steroid scandal? Associated Press' Fred Frummer reports that softball, trying to get reinstated as an Olympic sport in 2016, rejected making a joint presentation with baseball. Why?

The IOC voted to drop baseball and softball in 2005, and softball officials have said their sport was hurt by baseball's doping scandals.

The president of the International Softball Federation, Don Porter, made this announcement Friday: "We have offered the IOC a doping-free, universal team sport that reflects the values of Olympism all over the world."


* You think Scott Boras drove the Pirate suits nuts? How about his wheelin' and dealin' with Manny and the Dodgers? Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors has all the weirdness. Post Gazette blogmeister Bob Smizik even took note of the craziness in la-la land.

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