Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Ax Falls...And May Not Be Done

-- Chop chop: RHPs Virgil Vasquez, Chris Bootcheck, Denny Bautista and Jason Davis, OF Jeff Salazar, IF Andy Phillips, 1B Garrett Jones, and C Erik Kratz were trimmed from the roster today.

RHP Romulo Sanchez was lopped from the 40-man roster to make way for OF Craig Monroe.

That leaves one to go, among Sean Burnett, who's probably safe, Evan Meek and Jesse Chavez. The trio are the finalists for the final two bullpen spots.

In addition, John Paul Morosi of the Detroit Free Press says that OF Brent Clevlen, out of options and unlikely to make the cut, is on the Buc's radar.

The 25-year old RH is considered a good corner OF, and had a line of .279/22/82 at AAA Toledo last year. But he struck out 166 times in 476 at-bats.

So the possibility exists that someone could get plucked from the waiver wires or in a last-minute deal, too. The suits claim that they don't have any irons in the fire; we'll see.

-- The Bucs lost to Boston this afternoon 4-3, as Paul Maholm finally had a shaky start; we hope it's out of his system now. The lefty gave up three runs in four innings, with all the damage coming as a result of a wind blown homer.

Nyjer Morgan was the hitting star - first time we got to write that! - going 3-for-4 with two doubles and a run scored. Nate McLouth hit his fourth homer of the spring, a two run shot off of Josh Beckett.

The Pirates will have two games on Thursday. The big club will tackle the Reds in the main bout. Ian Snell is scheduled to start, health allowing (he has the flu, too), against Edinson Volquez.

The Pirates also play Manatee Community College at McKechnie Field in their annual charity exhibition. Virgil Vasquez will go for the Pirates, with a minor-league crew behind him.

-- One player the Pirates were supposed to be in on, IF Robert Andino, was traded to the Orioles by Florida today for Hayden Penn, a pitcher that was hot a couple of years ago but has run on hard times since. So you can take Andino off the hot stove.

-- Where are they now: Jason Michaels is the bench OF for the Astros.

Ronny Paulino is sitting pretty as the back-up receiver at Florida. His .355 lifetime average against lefties makes him the perfect partner for LH Scott Baker, the Fish' everyday backstop.

Toronto has stockpiled ex-Pirates, but utility infielder Jose Bautista is the only one that will break camp with them. Raul Chavez, TJ Beam and Bryan Bullington were all sent to AAA Las Vegas.

Doug Meintkiewicz is still in the running for a reserve role in LA, as is Chris Gomez in Baltimore, although he looks to get a visit from the Turk now that Andino has joined the club.

Chris Duffy and Tony Gwynn Jr. are in a battle for the last outfield position in Milwaukee; Gwynn is probably the favorite, as he's out of options. The Nat's Jose Castillo, the Cub's Luis Rivas, and the White Sox' John Van Benschoten were all sent to minor league camp for assignment.

-- Once-upon-a-time Pirate farm hand, infielder Jeff Keppinger, was traded to the Astros by the Reds late yesterday.

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