Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pre-Game Notes

-- Steve Pearce is back up and, according to GM Neal Huntington's chats with the beat reporters, has earned the opportunity to step in as the Pirates' everyday first baseman immediately. In fact, he's starting tonight and hitting fifth against All-Star Dan Haren, who's been red-hot from the hill of late.

We thought he might start out platooning with Garrett Jones at first, but apparently the Bucs are willing to give him a two-month audition to see if he can provide an internal replacement for Adam LaRoche.

They probably feel that they can evaluate Jones from the OF; Pearce is more of an X factor. It won't cost Jones any at-bats, but keeps the platoon status quo of Brandon Moss and Delwyn Young intact, with moves and opportunities to come, depending on the trade winds.

-- Jack Splat will sit out tonight with a tweaked hammy for the third straight game. He can pinch-hit, but hasn't been cleared to field yet.

-- Maybe the logjam is breaking up. The Pirates signed 6-6 RHP Trent Stevenson, the seventh-round selection from Phoenix's Brophy Jesuit Prep. He was a 7-2 with a 3.91 ERA, striking out 59 in 48-1/3 innings, and passed up a scholarship to the University of Arizona. Stevenson's bonus is reported to be $350,000.

They also signed 34th-round pick Zac Fuesser, a 6-2 LHP from Walters State C.C. in Morristown, Tenn. He was 5-2 with 4 saves, a 4.35 ERA, and 60 Ks in 49-2/3 innings, and gave up a free ride to the U of Tennessee. His bonus was reported to be $125,000.

Both signed at above-slot for their draft rounds.

The Bucs now have 17 picks safely signed; they hope to end up with a half dozen more. Some contracts are thought to be stuck in the Commissioner's Office because of over-slot bonus issues.

-- Mark Buehrle hurled a perfect game for the White Sox in their 5-0 win over Tampa Bay at U.S. Cellular Field this afternoon. It was the first perfect game since the Big Unit, Randy Johnson, did it on May 18, 2004 against the Atlanta Braves, and the 18th in MLB history.

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