* Hey, a couple of Buccos are extending their vacation from camp as their teams move on up in the WBC - Ian Snell, John Grabow, and Ramon Vazquez. A trio of youngsters fared well, too, even if their national nines didn't - Ray Chang, Gift Ngoepe, and Dave Davidson. (Jen Langosch of MLB.com has their tale.)
But the story today is the hellcats from Holland clawing their way to another win over the WBC darlings, the Domincan Republic, claiming a 2-1, 11 inning victory to advance to the next round of play by eliminating the Latinos. And right in the middle of the mess is old Bucco Yurendell de Caster.
You don't remember the ex-Pirate? The infielder toiled at Indy and the other Bucco outposts from 2000-2007 (de Caster is now in the Detroit organization), where he showed a decent stick and some versatility in the field. But his big league line is kinda sad. Yurendell played three games in 2006 for Pittsburgh, and got up twice. He K'ed both times.
Not that he's doing much better for the Dutch. He's hitting a whopping .091 so far in WBC competition, and when he came up with the winning run on third and two outs, he was wearing the collar with three punch-outs.
de Caster didn't exactly crush it, but he did claim a walk-off error to notch the win, when he smacked a hard grounder to first that bounced off Willy Aybar's mitt and rolled gently into right field. Put the ball in play and good things happen, hey? And a walk-off hit is a walk-off hit, whether it bounds off the wall or some leather.
Randall Simon is also on the club, playing first and hitting .200, while Bert Blyleven is the pitching coach. He must be doing something right; his charges went 11 innings against the Dominican without giving up an earned run.
* The real Bucs, meanwhile, came back from their day off with rested arms and wimpy bats, hanging on for a 2-2 tie with Toronto, called after 11 innings when both sides ran out of pitchers.
Paul Maholm was sharp, going four scoreless innings, giving up two hits and striking out four while getting eight ground outs. It took him 38 pitches, 28 for strikes, to breeze through the Jays. Jeff Karstens wasn't as sharp, staying up in the zone and surrendering a pair in two frames of work.
Matt Capps, Donnie Veal, Evan Meek, Jason Davis, and Jeff Sues all threw zeroes in their inning of work. Capps, Meek, and Sues have yet to give up an earned run.
Old Corsair teammate TJ Beam pitched a perfect eighth inning for Toronto, with a strikeout.
The Bucs scored when Nyjer Morgan singled, stole second, and came around on Adam LaRoche's single. The other run was a ninth-inning longball by Craig Monroe. The Pirates only had four hits to go with six walks, and struck out eleven times. Monroe led the pack with 3 K's.
The Pirates take on the Twins tomorrow at 1:05 p.m. at McKechnie Field. Toeing the rubber for the Pirates are Virgil Vasquez, Tyler Yates, Jesse Chavez, Chris Bootcheck, Denny Bautista and Sean Burnett. Minnesota is starting Scott Baker.
* John Perrotto features minor-league catching prospect and 40-man roster dude Steve Lerud in today's Pirate Report.
* Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune Review has a story on RHP Bryan Morris, who many consider to be the main piece of the Bay deal.
* "Dude, there's a buzz here." Dejan Kovacevic of the Post Gazette has the tale of a team that's doing more than going through the motions at camp this spring.
* The Nationals have inked a minor-league deal with ol' bud Kip Wells, according to MASN Sports. He's 65-94 with a 4.67 ERA in 256 games (205 starts) in 10 big league seasons. He was with the Bucs from 2002-06.