Sunday, March 18, 2018

Notes: Double Dip; Buc Bats Boom 13-5; Lotsa of Stuff Happening

Today: Split squad day: Tyler Glasnow gets the call at LECOM Park against the Red Sox at 1:05, followed by young gun Mitch Keller, Dovydas Neverauskas and Kyle Crick. That game be on AT&T SportsNet. Game #2 is v the Blue Jays in Dunedin at 1:07. Steven Brault will start things off with another hot prospect, Taylor Hearn, then Richard Rodriguez and Jordan Milbrath, scheduled to be the cavalry. That game will be carried by 93.7 The Fan.

Yesterday: Buc bats stayed hot in a 13-5 win over the Twinkies. Cool Chad went 4-1/3 IP, giving up three runs, but it was an improvement over last outing and he's still keeping the faith with his changeup. Kevin Siegrist and Tyler Jones both put up zeroes in relief; Edgar Santana was tapped for the other pair of runs. Jose Osuna and Jordan Luplow each had two hits and three RBI, with J-Lupp homering. S-Rod went long, had two hits and scored three runs. Cervelli banged one out of the yard among his two raps, with two runs scored and an RBI. The Bucs used 13 hits to plate their 13 runs.

  • Old Pirate prospect Robbie Grossman went 2-for-3 for Minnesota. He's been in a dogfight for a roster spot since the Twins signed Logan Morrison, taking away Robbie's DH swings.
  • Cervy has a heavier bat, a simpler swing and a new bod per 93.7 The Fan's Jeff Hathhorn.
  • The back-ups in center for Starling Marte are S-Rod and Adam Frazier; Clint's not going to move Gregory Polanco around. 
The dude can play anywhere (image AT&T SportsNet Pgh)
  • The 2017 Altoona Curve team were given their Eastern League Championship rings in a pre-game ceremony at the ballyard yesterday. The Pirates also extended their contract with the Curve through 2022. The franchise has been a Bucco farm club since 1999, and that's the longest run of any minor league affiliate of the Pirates in franchise history.
  • Keep your eyes open - the Bucs should make their first big cut of the spring early next week. After Monday, the likely chop date after today's twinbill, there are only eight exhibitions left until Opening Day.
  • Nicholas Caporoso of Rumbunter has the story on Lolo Sanchez, an 18-year-old outfielder who's been climbing with a bullet in the Bucs system.
  • The Tigers’ Opening Day starter will be Jordan Zimmermann; he'll hook up with Ivan Nova on Thursday, March 29th. Yep, that close.
  • Transplanted Buccos: Gerrit Cole is slotted at #4 in the Astro's rotation and Charlie Morton fifth. Ground Chuck is slated to pitch Houston's home opener. 
  • The Bucs' April 7th contest with the Reds has been declared the “Brian Shaw Memorial Game” in honor of the New Kensington police officer killed in the line of duty. It's a Saturday night Zambelli fireworks date, so there should be quite a few on hand to honor the fallen officer.
  • The Pirates hosted the RISE To Vote campaign yesterday. The program enrolls pro and college athletes to vote and then encourages them to then take the register-to-vote message to their fans and communities.
  • Sean Burnett has signed a minor-league deal with the Marlins. The 35-year-old hasn't worked regularly since 2012 as he was beset by elbow problems.

3/18: New CBA Ends Lockout; HBD Elbie, Nixey, Brian, Dick, Marcus & The Brute

  • 1874 - Pirate skipper Jimmy “Nixey” Callahan was born in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Callahan was the Buc manager in 1916 and part of 1917, never sniffing the first division and replaced midway through his second year by Honus Wagner after compiling an 85-129 record at the helm. He was a nice ballplayer (tho he never suited up for the Pirates). In 1902, Callahan pitched the first no-hitter in American League history and is the only pitcher to have collected five hits in a game three times; he was exclusively used as an outfielder in the latter stages of his career. Nixey was a childhood nickname of undisclosed origin which Callahan himself didn’t use as an adult, although newspapers often referred to him by that moniker. 
Nixey Callahan (image via Baseball History Daily)
  • 1896 - RHP Marcus Milligan was born in Heflin, Alabama. Milligan never tossed in the majors because of WW1. In 1918, as a 21-year-old rookie, he was given a good chance at breaking camp with the big league club after being signed by Barney Dreyfuss in 1916, then having a strong year at Class A Birmingham the following season. But he had enlisted earlier in the year, was claimed from spring training in March by Uncle Sam and reported to the aviation corps. He died in a training accident in September when his biplane crashed at Barron Field in Fort Worth, Texas. 
  • 1912 - SS John “The Brute” Lyles was born in St. Louis. He played one of his seven pro black baseball seasons with the Homestead Grays in 1934 as a 22-year-old shortstop, hitting .261. He then spent three years with the semi-pro Claybrook Tigers, a powerhouse black squad known as the “Champions of the South”, then came home to the Negro League in 1938, playing through the 1942 campaign. 
  • 1916 - 1B Elbie Fletcher was born in Milton, Massachusetts. He played first for Pittsburgh for seven seasons (1939-43, 1946-47) with two years off during WW2. Elbie put together a line of .279/79/616 as a Bucco, and was an All-Star in 1943. Fletcher began his big league career in 1934 with Boston after a contest was held to determine which local high school player was most likely to reach the major leagues, with the winner receiving an invitation to the Braves' spring training camp. With the considerable help of the votes from his large family, Fletcher won, and then actually made the team on his own merit. 
Dick Littlefield 1954 Bowman
  • 1926 - LHP Dick Littlefield was born in Detroit. The workmanlike southpaw toiled from 1954-56 for some pretty sad Pirate teams and put up a 15-23 record with a 4.29 ERA. Littlefield was the poster boy for journeymen per Wikipedia - he was one of the most well-traveled and frequently-traded players prior to the free agency era, rostering on 10 of the 16 MLB franchises in existence before 1961. 
  • 1962 - RHP Brian Fisher was born in Honolulu. A second round draft pick of the Yankees, the Bucs traded for him in 1987. He was a workmanlike starter for two years, but suffered from knee problems in 1989 and was released by Pittsburgh after a Bucco slash of 19-22/4.72 ERA. He lasted in the show until 1992 when his knees finally gave out. He was a second-round draft pick by the Atlanta Braves and had a fastball that touched 97 MPH. 
  • 1990 - The suits and the MLBPA agreed on a new CBA that ended a 32-day lockout. The main points included increasing the clubs' ante to the pension fund, raising the minimum salary to $100,000 and the introduction of “Super Two” arbitration status. The lockout pushed Opening Day back a week to April 9th and the season had to be extended by three days to complete the full schedule.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Notes: Pirates Host Twins After Outlasting Atlanta 12-9; Bucco Stuff

Today: Chad Kuhl will start against the Twinkies in LECOM Park at 1:05. Edgar Santana, Kevin Siegrist and Tyler Jones are also slated to spin after him. Phil Hughes gets the ball for Minnesota. The game will be broadcast by AT&T SportsNet and 93.7 The Fan. Doc Emrick will stop by the TV booth to chat during the game.

Yesterday: The A-Team looked good. Jameson Taillon tossed three no-hit innings before being touched for a dinger in the fourth; he went five frames/59 pitches (43 strikes) and that was the lone hit, along with two walks and five whiffs. The Bucs were up 7-0 after three, keyed by a bases-juiced triple by Corey Dickerson and longs ball from J-Bell and Elias Diaz. Gregory later went deep, and so did Ozzie Albies against Josh Smoker; he had the homer off JT, too. It wasn't a great outing for Josh; he gave up another homer and left with two-on and two-out in the seventh. They both scored off Sam Street (Bradenton & the Aussie League) to further inflate Smoker's final line. Tyler Eppler gave up another long tater to make it 8-7 in the eighth, but Pablo Reyes (Altoona) and Ryan Lavarnway both answered the challenge by clearing the fences to make it 12-7. Good thing, too, as Eppler gave up a pair of bombs himself in the ninth to make the final 12-9. The Pirates hit five home runs; the Bravos clobbered six; it was a good afternoon to be a kid hanging outside the fence with a mitt.

  • The Pirates had 15 hits, drew four walks, got aboard twice via wayward throws and had a bopped batter. 
  • Jaff Decker went 2-for-2 with a homer against his old mateys. 
  • RHP Tyler Eppler was re-assigned to minor league camp. 
  • Sneak preview: hot prospects Mitch Keller and Taylor Hearn will pitch as the Bucs have a split squad set tomorrow.
  • The Rangers have released Jon Niese, who was on a minor-league contract.

3/17: Sure and Begorrhah - Smiley Trade; Latin Roots; HBD John, Rod, Raul, Pete & Ralph; RIP Charley

  • 1894 - 2B/OF Ralph Shafer was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. Ralph is the Pirates version of Moonlight Graham - he got into one game on July 25th, 1914, as a pinch runner during a 4-2 loss to the NY Giants at the Polo Grounds, dying on base. Shafer apparently couldn’t make up his mind about the pro ball thing. He played five minor league seasons for five teams, with a four year hiatus between 1917-20. 
Pete Reiser 1951 Bowman
  • 1919 - OF Pete Reiser was born in St. Louis. The veteran outfielder spent one season (1951) of his 10-year MLB stint in Pittsburgh, batting .271. He spent the next campaign with the Cleveland Indians before retiring. Pete then managed in the Dodger organization and coached at the MLB level for LA, the Cubs and the Angels before passing away at age 62. 
  •  1956 - LHP Rod Scurry was born in Sacramento. Scurry tossed for the Bucs for six years (1980-85) featuring a nasty curveball, going 17-28-34 with a 3.15 ERA before closing out his career with the Yankees and Mariners. The first round pick of 1974, like many players in the eighties, was a nose-candy fan during his playing days, and never could kick the habit even after undergoing rehab in 1984. He died in 1992 of cocaine-induced heart failure at age 36. 
  • 1965 - LHP John Smiley was born in Phoenixville, near Valley Forge. He spent his first six seasons (1986-91) in Pittsburgh with a 60-42/3.57 line. 1991 was his best season, going 20-9 with a 3.08 ERA and All-Star selection. In the off season, he was traded to Minnesota for Denny Neagle, and went on to win 126 games in his 12 year career. John retired after breaking his arm while warming up in 1997; the injury effectively ended his career. 
Vitico 1972 Topps
  • 1972 - The Bucs watered their Latin roots by playing and sweeping a three game pre-season series against the Reds in Caracas, Venezuela. The final game was delayed when kids hopped the fence to get Vic Davillo’s autograph during the action. It took about ten minutes for play to resume. Beloved in his homeland, “Vitico” (Little Victor) played in the Venezuelan League before turning pro and returned when his MLB career was done, playing until he was 50 years old. 
  • 1973 - C Raul Chavez was born in Valencia, Venezuela. Raul was a backup catcher who played for six teams, including a stop in Pittsburgh in 2008 as a 35-year-old. He started 31 games behind the dish and hit .259, but refused a minor league assignment the following season, and signed on for one more big league campaign with Toronto in 2009 before retiring. 
  • 1992 - The Pirates traded LHP John Smiley (on his birthday!) after a 20-8 All-Star season to the Twins in exchange for LHP Denny Neagle and OF Midre Cummings, sweetening the pot for Minnesota by tossing in $800,000. Smiley told Bob Hertzel of the Pittsburgh Press that “I’m extremely shocked. My contract had to play a little part in this” and was probably right. He had agreed to a guaranteed $3.44M deal, a $2M raise over his 1991 pay, on February 18th, just hours ahead of his arbitration hearing and was a year from free agency. GM Ted Simmons said no way, telling the paper that “Salary was a non-issue,” and it was just a “daring and aggressive” deal. Smiley, who had been a Pirate since being drafted in 1983, went on to toss eight more seasons, mostly with the Reds, while Neagle won 43 games in his 4-1/2 year Bucco stint and would pitch until 2003. Hot prospect Cummings ended up a bench player who posted parts of 11 MLB seasons on his resume. 
John Smiley 1989 Panini
  • 2014 - Long time (1966-86) Post Gazette Pirates beat writer Charley Feeney, known for calling everyone “Pally” (he didn’t have a good memory for names) passed away at the age of 89. He was inducted into the writer’s wing of the Hall of Fame in 1996. After his selection, he told fellow sportswriter Ron Cook that “I'm in and Bill Mazeroski isn't. It's unbelievable." Maz joined him in Cooperstown five years later.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Notes: Bucs v Braves; Pinstripers Pound Pirates; Camp Battles & Kids 'R' Us.

Today: The Bucs entertain the Braves at LECOM Field, first pitch at 1:05. Jameson Taillon will start for Pittsburgh, with Josh Smoker and Tyler Eppler also booked. It's the big boy lineup today as the season approaches. The game will be aired by AT&T SportsNet and MLB Network with audio coverage via (via

Yesterday: Joe Musgrove showed his good and bad in his first outing. He gave up a first inning run on a walk/double combo, struck out the side in the second (he had five whiffs), then walked two-of-three to open the third (he walked three during the outing), earning a pitch count hook. Brett McKinney came in and a bopped batter/homer later, the Yankees were off and running. They piled it on Felipe Rivero in the next frame; he was given the hook after three walks (one forcing in a run) and an error; Sean Keselica was beat around a little more as NY jumped up 8-3 on the way to a 9-5 win. Kyle Crick (two IP) and Kevin Siegrist shut the door; Dovy Neverauskas gave up a ninth inning homer. It was four errors Wednesday followed by nine walks yesterday, not a great look with the season approaching. Cervy and Jose Osuna smacked two-run, two-out homers for the Pirates, who only had six hits.

  • William Boor of picks out 25 prospects who have impressed him this spring - the Bucs have Colin Moran in the "break camp" category and Austin Meadows part of the "ETA - later this year" group.
  • The camp battles to date are shaking out some, per WTM of Bucs Dugout
  • How young is the Pirates pitching staff? All these guys were born in 1991 or later - Steven Brault, Kyle Crick, Michael Feliz, Tyler Glasnow, Chad Kuhl, Joe Musgrove, Felipe Rivero, Jameson Taillon and Trevor Williams, along with eight other pitchers currently on the 40-man roster. The only pitchers born in the eighties are Ivan Nova, George Kontos, AJ Schugel and Josh Smoker.  Among the bubble NRI's only Bo Schultz ('85) has some gray - Kevin Siegrist, Tyler Jones and John Stilson were 1989-90 babies. The 40-man position players are split a little more evenly, with 10 from the nineties and nine from the eighties.

3/16: Honus Quits; Look Into the Crystal Ball; HBD Lloyd, Patsy & Abraham; RIP Pie

  • 1865 - OF Patrick “Patsy” Donovan was born in Queenstown, Ireland. He played for the Pirates from 1892-99, hitting .307, and spent 17 years in the big leagues with a lifetime .301 BA. He put up six consecutive .300+ seasons and served as player-manager from 1897-99. Patsy managed in the show for 11 seasons, became a minor league skipper and eventually a high school coach at Phillips Academy in Andover, where he coached the future 41st President, George HW Bush. 
Patsy Donovan Badge 1898 Pepsin Gum
  • 1906 - OF Lloyd “Little Poison” Waner was born in Harrah, Oklahoma. The Hall-of-Fame OF had a .319 BA over 17 seasons with Pittsburgh. He batted .316 with 2,459 hits, striking out just 173 times in an 18-season major league career. Lloyd and his sib Paul set the record for career hits by brothers in MLB with 5,611 knocks. Little Poison worked as a scout for the Pirates and the Baltimore Orioles after retiring as a player and was elected into the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1967. 
  • 1908 - Honus Wagner announced his retirement at the age of 34, citing arthritis and the need to rest his body. The Pittsburg Press wrote that “Some hope is still expressed that the mighty Teuton will see...the error of his way and return to the game.” He did after sitting out spring training. Hans played in 151 games in 1908, matching his 1898 high when he was just 24, and led the NL in batting average (for the sixth time at .354), hits (201), total bases (308), doubles (39), triples (19), RBIs (109), stolen bases (53), slugging % (.542), OBP (.415) and OPS (.957). The Flying Dutchman finished the year two homers short of winning the Triple Crown. Honus retired several times in a regular rite of spring, but didn’t actually hang up his spikes until after the 1917 campaign. 
  • 1956 - The Pirates 10-5 exhibition win over the Tigers in windy Fort Myers gave long-suffering Bucco fans a rosy glimpse of the future. Les Biederman, beat man for the Pittsburgh Press, wrote “(Roberto) Clemente brought down the house when he twice tripled with two aboard and the 1,289 fans gave him the glad hand. (Bill) Mazeroski, the 19-year-old former Wheeling resident who is here for a long look, contributed two singles and played expertly in the field.” The Great One was in the second of 18 seasons with the Pirates while Maz would be called up in July to begin a 17-year Pittsburgh run. Both men ended up with retired numbers, ballyard statues and Hall of Fame plaques. 
Pie Traynor as a baseball talk host 1951 (photo via Jeff Roteman)
  • 1972 - Pie Traynor died at age 72 in Pittsburgh. The 3B played 17 years for the Pirates, his only team, with a .320 BA and had a second career as the "Who Can? Ameri-can" spokesman. He managed the Bucs after he hung ‘em up and later served as a Pirate scout before taking a job as a radio sports director in 1944. His show (he was on KQV, hosting the The Pie Traynor Club) was popular with fans and he remained at the job for 21 years. In 1948, Traynor was selected to the Hall of Fame, being the first third baseman to be chosen by the Baseball Writers Association of America. In 1969, as part of the centennial of professional baseball, Traynor was named the third baseman for MLB's all-time team. 
  • 1976 - IF Abraham Nunez was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The utility man - he played SS, 2B and 3B - spent eight seasons (1997 - 2004) with Pittsburgh and hit .238. His big league career ended in 2008 and after a 2010 fling in the indie leagues, Nunez retired. He now coaches in the Kansas City organization and manages in the Dominican League.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Notes: Pirates Spanked, Take on Yankees Today; More Cuts 'n' Stuff

Today: The Pirates travel to Tampa's Steinbrenner Field to play the Yankees at 1:05. Joe Musgrove starts in his first Pirates outing with Felipe Rivero, Kyle Crick, Kevin Siegrist and Dovydas Neverauskas to follow. Sonny Gray opens for the Bronx. The audio will be streamed by (available via

Yesterday: The Bucs were pretty much crickets in a 9-3 behind-the-woodshed whipping by the Rays. Ivan Nova gave up three runs in five innings, Nick Kingham was slapped around, and George Kontas & Casey Sadler were each touched for a run while Michael Feliz was the only Pirate pitcher to post a zero in a clean inning. Four errors don't help the cause; the Pirates haven't been very tight with the leather so far this spring and with two weeks to go before the opening gun, that's a concern. J-Bell had two hits for the Pirates and Eric Wood went long.

  • Tyler Glasnow, out recently with the flu, will throw a bullpen today while AJ Schugel, who's missed all of camp with a sore shoulder, will begin light tossing.
  • Ivan Nova isn't all that concerned with results yet; with a guaranteed roster spot, he can spend time on the finer points of his game. Adam Berry of notes that he's working on his change and using the inside half of the plate during the spring to better combat lefties and batters sitting on the outside edge against him.
  • Cut list: P Yeudy Garcia, 2B Kevin Kramer, P Alex McRae & IF Kevin Newman have been reassigned to minor league camp after respectable spring showings. Pirates City will be hummin' like a bee hive now that the roster is shrinking & the minor league spring schedule has kicked off. 
  • Sights you never thought you'd see - Neil Walker in a Yankee uni taking balls at first base.
  • This season, the minors are beginning what IMO is the dumbest "pace of play" rule ever written - starting extra innings with a runner on second. Why don't they just have a home run derby in the 10th? Too much vid game tinkering by MLB HQ.

3/15: Snell, Bibby Sign; Hit Man & Scrap Iron Deals; HBD Steve, Nellie, Jimmie, Bill & Red

  • 1876 - OF Bill Hallman was born in Philadelphia. He played four MLB seasons, two with the Pirates (1906-07). Bill hit .233 and those years ended his big league days, though he had a long minor league career that spanned from 1894-1914 before he hung up the spikes. Be careful not to confuse him with his uncle Bill Hallman, an infielder who was born in Pittsburgh and played for 14 seasons, mostly with Philadelphia clubs. 
  • 1902 - OF Fred “Red” Bennett was born in Atkins, Arkansas. He played in 39 MLB games, 32 of them with the Pirates in 1931, batting .281 for the Buccos. He was part of a lawsuit after the Pirates had offered Wichita Falls, his minor league club, $10,000 for his contract in 1929 only to see it sold to the Cardinals for half the price with Bennett reassigned to the minors. Commissioner Landis voided the deal, his radar set off because St. Louis’ owner, Phil Ball, also owned the Wichita Falls club. The Cards sued Kenesaw Mountain and in April of 1931, lost their case. Red became a Pirate and Landis’ unilateral power granted under “the best interests of the game” clause, cited in the decision, became a powerful weapon in the Commissioner’s Office arsenal.
1991 Rom Lewis Post Card
  • 1910 - OF Jimmie Crutchfield was born in Ardmore, Missouri. He played for the Pittsburgh Crawfords from 1931-36 (w/a brief stay with the Homestead Grays in 1932 before returning to the Crawfords), earning three All-Star berths. Per BR Bullpen, James Riley, author and director of the Negro League Museum, wrote that Crutchfield was often compared to Lloyd Waner in skill set for being a small ball expert with speed and defensive skills but not much power. Additionally, they both played center field in Pittsburgh in the same era. He retired in 1945, losing a couple of years to the service during WW2, and closed out his days working for the Post Office. 
  • 1928 - Nellie King was born in Shenandoah, near Pottsville. As a righty, he had a four-year (1954-57) MLB career, all spent in Pittsburgh, going 7-5-6/3.58. He later was Bob Prince’s announcing sidekick from 1967-75 on KDKA and moved on to work at Duquesne University as their long-time Sports Information Director. Nellie returned to the Pirates' broadcast booth as a guest commentator for the final game at TRS on October 1st, 2000. 
  • 1977 - IF Phil Garner, P Chris Batton and IF Tommy Helms were traded to the Bucs by Oakland for OF Tony Armas, P Doug Bair, P Dave Giusti, P Rick Langford, P Doc Medich and 1B Mitchell Page. "Scrap Iron" (a moniker earned through his scrappy, hard-nosed approach to the game) was a mainstay of the 1979 World Series infield. But he came at a high price - Armas, Bair, Langford and Medich had long, solid post-Pirate careers, with just Giusti at the end of his string. 
Scrap Iron 1978 Hostess
  • 1982 - RHP Steve Jackson was born in Sumter, South Carolina. The Yankee product via Clemson tossed two MLB seasons, both for the Bucs, in 2009-10 with a 2-4/4.31 slash. In 2011, he tossed in the minors for the Dodgers, Reds and Bucs in his last professional season. 
  • 1978 - The Pirates signed free agent RHP Jim Bibby. In five years with the Bucs, the big righty went 50-32 with a 3.53 ERA. Originally inked to be a closer, he instead became a key member of the 1979 World Series rotation and was an All-Star in 1980. He missed all of 1982 with a shoulder injury that in effect ended his career. He put up a 6.69 ERA in 1983 and was let go; he pitched eight more times afterward before hanging up the spikes. 
  • 1979 - The Pirates sent minor leaguers George Hill and Martin Rivas along with cash to the Red Sox to get back OF Mike Easler, who had been sold to Boston during the off season. Good thing the FO had a change of heart. Easler ended up a .302 hitter with the Bucs between 1979-83 and was a key bench/platoon player for the 1979 World Series club, also earning an All-Star bid in the shortened 1981 season. The “Hit Man” (so named because of his sweet gap-to-gap swing and .293 lifetime BA) went back to Boston after the ‘83 season for P John Tudor. 
Ian Snell 2008 Upper Deck Spectrum
  • 2008 - Five days after unilaterally renewing his contract, the Pirates signed RHP Ian Snell to a three-year deal worth $8M with options for 2011-12. The 26-year old, who was arbitration eligible after 2009 season, had a 24-26 record after two years in the show. He was dismal in 2008 and was sent to Class AAA at his request. Snell was traded to Seattle in 2009 at the deadline for a boatload of prospects, the best being Ronny Cedeno.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Bucs v Rays, Camp Notes

Today: The Pirates host the Rays at 1:05 at LECOM Park, with the game on AT&T SportsNet and 93.7 The Fan. Opening Day starter Ivan Nova hits the hill, followed by Felipe Rivero, George Kontos, Michael Feliz and Nick Kingham.

Yesterday: A day of rest; no game scheduled.

  • As it gets closer to rug-cutting time, here are the players on the 40-man who are out of options and either have to make the team or risk being lost: OF Bryce Brentz, C Elias Diaz, P George Kontos, P AJ Schugel & P Nik Turley. Diaz and Kontos are locks to go north, Brentz is on the bubble and Shugel (shoulder) & Turley (post-TJ) injured.
  • Anthony Castrovince of MLB. com picks each team's most indispensable player ("...whose long-term absence or major performance decline would have their clubs scrambling, if not stumbling.") and selects Starling Marte as the Buccos' MIP. 
  • 2B Dilson Herrera has cleared waivers after being outrighted by the Reds. He was once the Pirates next big thing.

3/14: Kenny Signs, Roberto Hurt; RIP Harold; HBD Butch, Earl & Bunker

  • 1869 - RHP Billy “Bunker” Rhines was born in Ridgway, Elk County. He tossed for the Bucs at the end of his career in 1898-99, going 16-20 with a 3.95 ERA after twice leading the NL in ERA as a Cincinnati Red. Bunker did have one league leading stat as a Bucco in 1898 - he tossed 258 frames without allowing a homer. The nickname “Bunker” may be a corruption of Rhines' alma mater, Bucknell, although that is uncertain.
  • 1928 - OF Earl Smith was born in Sunnyside, Washington. Smith had a brief career in the show with the Bucs, going 1-for-16 in April 1955 before being sent back to the minors, never to return. But he is the answer to a trivia question. Smith was the last player to wear #21 on the Pittsburgh Pirates' roster before Roberto Clemente. The Great One was a rookie that year and began the season wearing #13, but he claimed #21 (the number of letters in his full name, Roberto Clemente Walker) when Smith was sent down. 
We hope Butch is in his easy chair for his b-day (photo Pirates)
  • 1956 - C/coach Harold “Butch” Wynegar was born in York, Pennsylvania. He had a 13-year career with the Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees and California Angels, twice being named an All Star. Butch added more miles after his playing days, coaching with the Orioles, Rangers, Brewers and Yankees organizations before becoming the Pirates AAA hitting coach at Indy in 2015 before moving on to Bradenton this campaign. Sports Illustrated’s Douglas Looney wrote that he was “Nicknamed ‘Butch’ by a grandmother who stared into the crib of Harold Delano Wynegar, Jr. and declared ‘You look like a Butch.’” 
  • 1969 - After recovering from a right shoulder injury, Roberto Clemente banged his left wing chasing a foul pop during a spring game, which prompted a trip back home to Puerto Rico to visit his own doctor. He started the year 0-for-12, but roared back with a .345 BA, second to Pete Rose’s .348 in a race that went down to the last day. Roberto was hitting .363 in August, but a cranky back kept him on the bench for much of September and likely cost him the crown. 
  • 1986 - Harold Arlin passed away at age 90 in Bakersfield, California. On August 5th, 1921, Arlin announced the first MLB game ever broadcast on radio for KDKA, an 8-5 Bucco win over the Phils at Forbes Field, providing a template that was copied throughout baseball. He was heard across the nation and did games through 1925, when he retired from radio and took a day job in Mansfield, Ohio. He returned to the format for a last hurrah in 1972 at Bob Prince’s invitation, doing play-by-play with The Gunner as his grandson, Steve Arlin, was on the hill for the San Diego Padres against the Pirates at TRS. Harold also did college football, boxing and tennis matches, was the first to do celebrity interviews and also the first to announce the results of a presidential election over the airwaves.
The Gunner & Harold Arlin 1972 (photo via Baseball Hall of Fame)
  • 2003 - OF Kenny Lofton agreed to a one-year/$1.025M deal with the Pirates. Kenny took over in center, bumping Brian Giles to left and Reggie Sanders to right. They formed a sweet swinging if somewhat grizzled trio (Lofton was age 36, Sanders 35, & Giles the baby at 32) with some punch. But Lofton didn’t last out the year as he was traded to the Cubs on July 23rd with Aramis Ramirez for not much in Dave Littlefield’s most infamous salary dump. Kenny hit .277 with 18 swiped sacks and nine long balls in his abbreviated Bucco tour of duty.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Notes: Day Off After 8-5 Loss to Birds; Team & League Stuff

Today: It's an off day for the Buccos.

Yesterday: Two in a row...not, as Pittsburgh lost to Baltimore 8-5. After Alex McRae gave the Bucs three innings of one-hit ball, Dovy Neverauskas was bombed for five runs (four earned) and later in the game, after the Bucs pared the lead to one run, Jordan Milbrath gave up a pair in 1/3 IP on two hits and two walks, wasting zeroes put up by Kyle Crick and Josh Smoker. Gregory Polanco, Corey Dickerson, Josh Harrison, Colin Moran and Fran Cervelli each had a pair of hits. Jose Osuna had a rap in his only appearance, singling home a pair of runs with two outs. The Pirates banged out 13 knocks, including five doubles, but went 3-for-14 w/RISP.

  • Cervy went 2-for-2 and now has five hits in his last eight at bats.
  • Clint confirmed that George Kontos will be the eighth-inning set up man for Felipe Rivero when the season starts.
  • Bill Baer of NBC Sports has the Pirates 2018 preview and writes "It’s a team that is just adequate all the way around."
  • The Yankees reportedly signed Neil Walker to a 1-year/$4M guaranteed deal plus $125K for 425, 450, 475 and 500 plate appearances gravy. This year's market has been brutal between overblown expectations and low ball bidding. In Walker's case, he's remained a consistently solid hitter but back woes in the last two seasons have made teams wary of the 32-year-old's lasting power. But still...
  • Remember the old Knothole Gang at Forbes Field? The Orioles are bringing back the concept, offering free tickets to kids nine-and-under for certain games.

3/13: Roberto Stays in Vegas; Crystal K; HBD Jason, Al, Gary, Eddie & Chappie

  • 1875 - RHP Charles “Chappie” McFarland was born in White Hall, Illinois. After four years with the Cardinals, he spent his final campaign of 1906 spinning for three clubs; six of his last season’s outings were with the Bucs. He went 1-3, 2.55, with five starts after the Bucs sent Ed Karger to the Cards for his services in June; by August he was waived and finished his MLB days with Brooklyn. Chappie had a brother, Monte, who tossed for the Cubs. After McFarland's baseball career, he stayed in show biz by opening the first vaudeville theater in Houston, then becoming a movie theater manager in charge of several houses. 
Eddie Pellegrini 1953 (photo via Out of the Park Development)
  • 1918 - Utilityman Eddie Pellagrini was born in Boston. He lost four years to the service but still put in eight seasons in MLB, his last two (1953-54) with the Bucs, hitting .237. After retiring, Pellagrini spent 32 years as the manager of the Boston College Eagles. Fun fact: in 1946, Eddie hit a home run in his first MLB at bat with the Red Sox. 
  • 1939 - OF Al Luplow was born in Saginaw, Michigan. He closed out his seven-year MLB career as a Buc in 1967 after the Pirates bought his contract from the Mets, hitting .184 in 55 games. Al made one of baseball’s great grabs in 1963 when he went flying over a five-foot fence in right to steal a three-run homer from Boston's Dick Williams at Fenway Park, landing in the bullpen and climbing back over the wall with the ball raised in his hand. And yes, they’re related: Pirates OF’er Jordan Luplow is his great-nephew. 
  • 1940 - All-purpose player Gary Kolb was born in Rock Falls, Illinois. Kolb played all three OF spots, 2B, 3B and catcher for the Bucs in 1968-69 (he played every position in the minors and all but pitcher and short in the majors). But while the glove was willing, the bat was weak and he hit just .186 as a Pirate, ending his MLB career. His cousin Danny, a RH reliever, also finished his nine-year run in the majors as a Bucco in 2007. 
  • 1975 - Roberto Clemente and 13 others were inducted into Las Vegas’ Black Athletes Hall of Fame. James Brown hosted the ceremony and Aretha Franklin provided the entertainment as Roberto (in memory), Roy Campanella and a dozen other athletes were honored during the affair at Caesar's Palace Convention Center. 
Jason Rogers 2016 (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
  • 1988 - 1B Jason Rogers was born in East Point, Georgia. He was traded by the Milwaukee Brewers for OF Keon Broxton and P Trey Supak depth during the 2015 off season as the Pirates were looking to fill a void at first base. However, Jason was bumped from the mix when the Bucs later signed veteran free agents John Jaso and David Freese, then shot himself in the foot by going 2-for-25 in 2016. Rogers was released the following year and took his game to Japan. 
  • 2008 - In a spring game against the Pirates, comedian and lifelong Yankee fan Billy Crystal led off as the DH after signing a one-day contract with New York. He made contact, fouling a fastball up the first base line, but was eventually struck out by Paul Maholm on six pitches. He joined Garth Brooks, Tom Selleck and Will Ferrell as celebrities who appeared in a MLB exhibition game.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Notes: Bucs v Os; Jays Thumped 5-0; More Cuts; Camp Notes

Today: The Bucs entertain the Orioles at LECOM Park at 1:05. Alex McRae kicks it off (Tyler Glasnow was scheduled but has the flu) followed by Kyle Crick, Kevin Siegrist, Jordan Milbrath, Edgar Santana and Josh Smoker. The game will be televised on AT&T SportsNet and aired by 93.7 The Fan.

Yesterday: As Clint likes to say, the Pirates showered off Saturday's twin embarrassment and broke quickly from the gate to drop the Blue Jays by a 5-0 count. Fraze scored on a J-Bell sac fly in the first, then the Bucs opened it up in the second go-around. Kevin Kramer tripled home Austin Meadows and plated when Fraze homered; for good measure, Gregory Polanco made it back-to-back bombs and the pitching took it home from there. Clay Holmes worked the opening three frames, followed by Casey Sadler, Damien Magnifico, Jack Leathersich, Johnny Stilson and Brett McKinney, who ensemble tossed a five hitter.

  • Some prospect cuts today: Clay Holmes, Jack Leathersich (too many walks) and Austin Meadows (nice spring; .368 BA) were assigned to Indy. Reassigned to minor-league camp were Cole Tucker, Christian Kelley, Jason Martin, Bryan Reynolds and Damien Magnifico.
  • Frazier has collected 10 hits in his last 15 at bats and is hitting .435; Starling Marte is 10-of-18 and batting .526.
  • Pittsburgh has homered in nine straight games.
  • Doc Emrick is visiting camp today.
  • Kramer started showing some pop with the lumber last year, but as he told's Adam Berry, it has nada to do with the launch angle trend. He made an adjustment with his hand action and got more aggressive in his mentality at the dish.
  • John Watson of Yardbarker has a look at at the NL Central teams' off season; the Pirates are a mixed bag.
  • Frankie Liriano has earned a spot in the Tigers rotation per skipper Ron Gardenhire.

3/12: Klein HoF; Ladies' Day; HBD Deacon, Phil, Denny, Reb, Lefty, Greg, Dave & Raul

  • 1865 - LHP Phil Knell was born in San Francisco. In a six-year career, he made a pair of stops in Pittsburgh. He started out as a 23-year-old rookie for the Alleghenys in 1888, going 1-2, 3.76, and pitched briefly for the Pirates in 1894, appearing in one outing and getting whacked. But during 1890-91, he won 50 games for the Philadelphia Quakers and Columbus Colts. At 5’7” and 155 pounds, he didn’t cut an intimidating figure, but no one in the box was comfortable facing him. In those two halcyon seasons, the wild child bopped 82, walked 392 and tossed 39 wild pitches in 748-⅔ IP. Phil started 52 games and worked 426 innings for the Colts in 1891 alone while setting the season record for hit batsmen with 54. 
Denny Lyons (photo via The New York Public Library)
  • 1866 - 3B Denny Lyons was born in Cincinnati. He played four seasons for Pittsburgh (1893-94; 1896-97) and mustered a .299 BA during that span. He put together a 52-game hitting streak, largely ignored because back in the day because a walk was considered the same as a hit. Still, it was a pretty impressive on-base skein. Lyons played for 13 campaigns, quitting only after a fastball thrown by Amos Rusie broke two of his fingers which never fully healed. 
  • 1894 - The Pittsburgh Pirates issued free season tickets for ladies, good for Tuesday and Friday games at Exposition Park, per Baseball Almanac. The New York Gothams introduced the ladies day concept in 1883 and Pittsburgh eventually bought into the concept. 
  • 1899 - OF Ewell “Reb” Russell was born in Jackson, Mississippi. Russell started as a pitcher for the Chicago White Sox in 1912 and was a good one, but developed arm trouble in 1918 and was released. While in the minors, he converted to playing the outfield and became an accomplished hitter. Reb got back to the show with Pittsburgh in 1922-23, and in 511 at-bats hit .323 with 21 HR/113 RBI. His downfall was that though he hit like an outfielder, he played the outfield like he was a pitcher. Still, Russell returned to the minor leagues American Association and was a highly paid star in the AA through age 40, even winning the league batting title when he was 38 years old with a .385 BA. Ewell was nicknamed “Reb” for his Mississippi roots. 
Reb Russell 1923 (photo Bain Collection/Library of Congress)
  • 1907 - LHP Leroy “Lefty” Matlock was born in Moberly, Missouri. After a cup of coffee with the Homestead Grays in 1932, he closed out the second half of his Negro League career with the Pittsburgh Crawfords from 1933-38, winning 51 games in his first four years and being named to three All-Star teams. He put together a 26-game winning streak from 1934-36 per his Baseball Reference bio (although BR’s stat page shows different results, so...). He was suspended early in the 1937 season for playing on a Dominican League team and won just four more games in his final two campaigns. 
  • 1930 - RHP Vern “The Deacon” Law was born in Meridian, Indiana. The righty pitched 16 years for the Pirates (1950–1951, 1954–1967), putting up a 162-147/3.77 line and winning the Cy Young in 1960 with a 20-9/3.05 mark for the World Series champs. Law infamously hurt his ankle during some horseplay after clinching the pennant. A true trooper - he pitched through it during the Series, won twice and left Game #7 with a three run lead - he tore muscles in his shoulder while compensating for the ankle. Both injuries lingered on for most of the remainder of his career, and his arm woes led him to briefly retire in '63. He had one more strong campaign afterward, going 17-9/2.15 in 1965 when he was named the Comeback Player of the Year. Law was also selected twice as an All-Star. "The Deacon" came by his nickname honestly; a devout Mormon, Vernon was a church deacon.
  • 1971- OF Raul Mondesi was born in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic. The Pirates signed the 33-year-old vet in 2004 and he had a good month, batting .283 w/two homers & 14 RBI before going home to handle a personal issue; he never came back, as it was ploy to get out of his contract. It worked - he was released in May and signed with Anaheim 10 days later, hit .118 and was cut in August. In 2005, the Braves became his last stop in a 13-year career; he batted .211 and was released in May. Mondesi became mayor of San Cristobal after baseball but couldn’t quite shake his shady ways. In 2017, a Dominican court handed him an eight-year sentence and fined him $1.3M for embezzling funds while in office. 
Raul Mondesi 2004 Topps
  • 1971 - RHP Greg Hansell was born in Bellflower, California. He closed out a four-year MLB run in 1999 with the Pirates with a 1-3, 3.89 line in 33 outings after a June call up from AAA Nashville. In December, Hansell was purchased from the Bucs by the Hanshin Tigers of the Japanese League. He tossed there through 2002, but big league comeback attempts in 2003 & ‘04 fell short; he settled for two more minor league seasons and retired after the 2004 campaign. 
  • 1979 - LHP Dave Williams was born in Anchorage, Alaska. He spent four seasons (2001-02, 2004-05) with the Bucs, going 17-26 with a 4.25 ERA, and got to play with high school teammate Ian Snell. Williams was traded to Cincinnati for Sean Casey after the 2005 season. He had surgery for a herniated disc in his neck in 2007 and never was sharp afterward. Williams ended his career after the 2009 season following a 2008 stint in Japan, then a year in the minors. 
  • 1980 - OF Chuck Klein was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee. Klein batted .320 over a 17-year career with the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs, and one season with the Pirates, 1939, when he hit .300. He was inducted on August 3rd.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Notes: Bucs v Blue Jays; Pirates Spanked Twice; Camp News

Today: The Pirates visit the Blue Jays at Dunedin Stadium for a 1:07 match. Clay Holmes, Jack Leathersich, Richard Rodriguez, Casey Sadler, Brett McKinney and John Stilson will spin the horsehide. The match will be on the MLB Network and 93.7 The Fan.

Yesterday: Good thing yesterday wasn't a tripleheader; the Bucs were bashed in split squad slaughters, 13-5 by the O's and 15-1 by the Bravos. In the Birds' game, Chad Kuhl gave up eight runs in 2-1/3 IP (seven hits, three homers & three walks) and Tyler Eppler five more in the following 1-2/3 frames. George Kontos, Michael Feliz (two frames. two K) and Edwin Santana then shut the gate, but... Starling Marte had two more hits, including one of the five Bucco doubles.

In the other contest, Trevor Williams gave up a three-spot in four frames, with a two-out, two-run dinger the main culprit. Felipe Rivero also gave up a two-run dinger. Kyle Crick and Jordan Milbrath combined for 2/3 IP and gave up eight runs, though only two hits. Three walks, a bopped batter, a couple of errors, sacrifices, legacy runners coming added up in a hurry. Kevin Siegrist made his first outing and struck out the side after an opening rap. Josh Smoker also had a nice outing, a 1-2-3 frame with two whiffs. Pittsburgh had seven hits; Colin Moran had two of them while Jordy homered.

  • Williams' had a better outing than the line indicates - he retired 9-of-10 before a bad sequence beginning with a walk. The homer that stuck the dagger in wasn't good hitting but a mistake ball, he said; the pitch floated from the moment it left his hand.
  • S-Rod looks like he's physically at 100% this spring - he's batting .300 w/three homers (although still sporting an ungodly K rate) while playing all three OF spots and both middle infield positions. 
He's back... (image via Positively Pittsburgh)
  • Joe Musgrove's minor league outing went w/o hitch and he's slated to go Thursday against the Yankees. But he'll be AWOL for a couple of days - as a member of last year's WS champion Astros, he'll hook up with his old homies for their Monday visit to the White House per @RobBiertempfel of The Athletic.
  • Elias Diaz's 2017 pop time was pretty dang good, per Statcast. Stewie was up there, too, although Fran, well, not so much.
  • In an annual rite of spring, the Pirates have agreed to terms with their 31 pre-arb players (under three years service and includes Josh Bell, Jameson Taillon, Adam Frazier, Trevor Williams, Musgrove, Chad Kuhl, Colin Moran, Elias Diaz, Michael Feliz, Max Moroff, Jose Osuna, Kyle Crick, AJ Schugel and Tyler Glasnow), who have exactly zero leverage to negotiate. No particulars were released.

Freese Signs; Young Back; WBC; Deacon's Beer Money; HBD Dock, Salomon & Ed

  • 1918 - C Ed Fernandes was born in Oakland, California. Ed had two tours of duty in MLB, the first as a 22-year-old rookie for the Pirates in 1940 after starting in the minors at 17. It didn’t end so well with Fernandes batting .121 in 28 games. He seasoned for a while, popped up again with the White Sox in 1946, hitting .250 in a brief stay, and then finished out his career on the farm, retiring after 18 years of pro ball at age 36. Ed kept his hand in the game by managing in the minors for a spell before taking a job with the Matson Ship line. 
Dock Ellis 1979 Topps Update
  • 1945 - One of the Bucs more colorful characters, RHP Dock Ellis, was born in Los Angeles. He pitched nine seasons (1968-75, 1979) for Pittsburgh, going 96-80/3.16, and tossed the infamous LSD no-hitter against San Diego in 1970. He was part of the early seventies juggernaut that was in four NLCS tilts and won a World Series. Ellis cleaned up his act after his 1980 retirement and remained sober the rest of his days. Dock then devoted his post-baseball life to counseling drug addicts in treatment centers, prisons and ballparks before he died of cirrhosis in 2008 at the age of 63. 
  • 1956 - Vern Law picked up a little pocket money after an outstanding spring outing against Kansas City at Terry Park. He tossed three no-hit innings and smacked a grand slam, earning a ten-spot from Fort Myers (then the Bucs’ spring home) barber Virgil Harris, who promised $5 to every Pirates batter to homer and every Pirates pitcher to go three or more scoreless innings in the home ballyard. 
  • 1972 - RHP Salomon Torres was born in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic. After coaching for three years and then spending 2001 in foreign leagues, he tossed for the Bucs between 2002-07 with a line of 26-28-29/3.63. In 2006, his 94 pitching appearances led the MLB and tied the Pirate record held by Kent Tekulve. His final year was 2008 with the Brewers, retiring afterward to spend time with his family. His lifetime MLB line was 44-58-57 with a 4.31 ERA, working for five teams through 12 seasons. 
Salomon Torres 2007 Upper Deck
  • 2000 - 1B Kevin Young returned after an off season knee procedure, doubling and scoring in his spring debut. A key member in the middle of the Pirates order, he had a solid 2000 campaign in the first season of a four-year/$24M deal, capping a 1998-2000 run that rang up a slash of .276/.344/.481 along with 73 HR/302 RBI. But from 2001-03, his production nosedived - his line was just .236/.315/.397 with 32 HR/123 RBI over that period, and the end of the contract was also the end of his MLB career. 
  • 2006 - The Pirates got back WBC players Jason Bay and Yurendell DeCaster, a pair of guys who were on opposite ends of the Bucco totem pole in 2006. Bay, fresh from signing a four-year/$18.5M contract extension, went on to an All-Star campaign, batting .286 with 35 homers and 109 RBI. DeCaster, a utility infielder, started the year in the minors and was called up twice. He got into three games, whiffing twice, and was released at the end of the year. 
David Freese 2016 Topps Heritage
  • 2016 - The Pirates inked David Freese to a one year/$3M contract. An All-Star and World Series MVP for St. Louis, Freese came to the Bucs as a free agent after a two-year stint with the LA Angels. He was signed to cover for the early season loss of regular hot cornerman Jung Ho Kang, who was rehabbing a leg injury, and to add a veteran bench presence when JHK returned. They liked his work. Freeser hit .270 w/13 dingers, playing both infield corners and even five innings at second base. In late August, the Pirates signed Freese to a two-year contract extension worth $11M with a club option for 2019. He slashed .263/10 HR in 2017.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Notes: Split Squads; Bucs Edge Phils; Camp Stuff & Notable Signing

Today: Let's play two! It's split squad day. The Bucs will take on the Bravos at LECOM Park at 1:05. That game will be televised on AT&T SportsNet. Trevor Williams will start it off, followed by Felipe Rivero, Kyle Crick, Kevin Siegrist, Josh Smoker and Jordan Milbrath. Game two will be on the road against the Orioles in Sarasota at Ed Smith Stadium, also at 1:05. Chad Kuhl will start, followed by George Kontos, Michael Feliz and Edgar Santana. That broadcast will be broadcast by 93.7 The Fan.

Yesterday: The Pirates held off the Phillies, 5-4. Steven Brault gave up three runs (two earned) in 2-2/3 frames on five hits, three of which were doubles. Dovydas Neverauskas surrendered the other tally in a two-inning stint. Tyler Jones served up 1-2/3 scoreless IP; Richard Rodriguez and Casey Sadler each worked a frame and put up zeroes. Johnny Stilson and Alex McRae were both called on to get the third out and did their job. Jordan Luplow and Elias Diaz homered while Adam Frazier went  2- for-3 with two runs; Luplow had three RBI.

  • For a very meh line, both Brault and Clint seemed pleased with the outing. Clint noted that the D wasn't sharp (again) and that Steven threw all his pitches. The lefty was happy that his newest toy, a changeup, was coming along. That's why spring numbers are not very predictive.
  • Fraze is on fire; he's on an 8-for-11 roll.
  • The Pirates have homered in six straight games with 13 taters during that span, an encouraging sign. 
  • @pirateprospects have reported that the Pirates signed South Korean SS Ji-Hwan Bae, 18, a fairly highly touted prospect who was freed from the Atlanta system for international signing pool violations. The Braves described him featuring "...impact speed and defense, with bat-to-ball skills and a left-handed hitter." He's thought to athletic enough to stay at short; his only missing tool is power.

3/10: Heaton for Gibson; Sanders Signs; HBD John, Tike, Pops, Chief, Gene, Judge, Jack & Art

  • 1862 - Utilityman Ed “Pops/Dad” Lytle was born in Racine, Wisconsin. Pops (he was 28 when he reached the majors) had a 16-game big league career, all in 1890, and appeared in 15 of them with the Alleghenys, playing second and the outfield while hitting .145. He played 12 years of organized ball starting in 1889 and concluding in 1900; given his age, he likely seasoned himself in the indie and semi-pro leagues during his younger days. 
  • 1871 - OF John “Chief” Kelty was born in Jersey City, New Jersey. 19-year-old Kelty played for the 1890 Alleghenys in his only big league stop, hitting .237 in 59 games as part of a posse of 12 players who roamed the pasture for Pittsburgh at one time or another during that 113-loss season. He dropped out the record books after playing in the minors in 1891, presumably returning to his hometown, where he passed on in 1929. 
  • 1873 - IF Eugene Napoleon DeMontreville (AKA Gene Demont) was born in St. Paul. Gene only played for the Pirates in his 1894 rookie season, hitting .250 in eight at-bats, but went on to have an 11-year MLB career and put together a 36-game hitting streak between 1896-97 with Washington, the 10th longest run in baseball history. Gene left the show with a .303 lifetime average and six .300+ campaigns. (PS - don’t take this birth date to the bank; many sources agree on this date but his SABR bio claims it was March 26, 1874, so caveat emptor). 
Gene DeMontreville 1898 (photo via Wiki)
  • 1880 - RHP Walter “Judge/Lucky” Nagel was born in Santa Rosa, California. He began his major league career with the Pirates in 1911, signed by Barney Dreyfuss after a strong run in the PCL, with three consecutive 20-win campaigns. He slashed 4-2/3.62 in eight games. Judge was sold to the Boston Red Sox in June. That stop was the end of his career; he developed a sore arm and retired. Nagle wrote a book afterward titled “Five Straight Errors On Ladies Day” about his life and his friendship with Ty Cobb. He got his “Judge” nickname because he grew up beside the Santa Rosa Courthouse, where his father worked. We weren’t so lucky trying to find the origin of “Lucky.” 
  • 1889 - P Jack Mercer was born in Zanesville, Ohio. His major league career lasted one inning tossed in 1910 for the Pirates, allowing no runs on two walks and one strikeout. He had control issues he couldn’t overcome, and after two years in the minors, he was done with organized ball following the 1911 season. 
  • 1906 - RHP Art Herring was born in Altus, Oklahoma. Art closed out his 11-year career in 1947 with the Pirates after the Bucs bought his contract from the Brooklyn Dodgers during the ‘46 off season. Herring made 11 appearances out of the pen for the Pirates in 1947 with a 1-3-2/8.44 slash and was released in late June, retiring after the season. 
John Cangelosi 1989 Topps
  • 1963 - OF John Cangelosi was born in Brooklyn. The hustler hit .243 between 1987-90 for Pittsburgh, and in ‘87 became the first Pirate in 21 years to steal home. Cangelosi played 13 years for seven clubs; Pittsburgh was his longest stay with one team. He now operates Cangelosi Baseball, located inside the Bo Jackson's Elite Sports Dome, a Chicago-based sports training facility. 
  • 1977 - OF Julian “Tike” Redman was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He played five of his six MLB seasons (2000-01, 03-05) in Pittsburgh as a reserve outfielder, with a .281 BA. He had a decent stick, but he lost out when Nate McLouth and Chris Duffy were called to the show. He finished out his career in 2011 in the Mexican League. 
  • 1992 - The Pittsburgh Pirates traded LHP Neal Heaton to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for OF Kirk Gibson. Heaton, a 1990 All-Star, was released the following season while Gibson hit just .196 for the Bucs and was given his walking papers in early May. Kirk did have three decent seasons for Detroit and old skipper Sparky Anderson afterward, hitting .273 with 45 HR during that span before hanging them up in 1996. 
Reggie Sanders 2003 Spectrum SPX
  • 2003 - OF Reggie Sanders signed a one-year/$1M contract with Pittsburgh and earned every penny by hitting .285 with 31 HR and 87 RBI. The big campaign paid off for him as he left the following year and turned his slash into a two-year/$6M deal with St. Louis. Reggie remained productive over the final four years of his career before retiring after an injury-shortened 2007 season.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Notes: Pirates Roll 8-3; Visit Phils; Camp & Bucco Stuff

Today: The Pirates play the Phillies at Spectrum Field in Clearwater at 1:05. Steven Brault takes the ball v Jerad Eickhoff. Also in the queue are Dovydas Neverauskas, Richard Rodriguez, Casey Sadler and Tyler Jones. The game will be on the MLB Network with audio streaming on

Yesterday: Starling Marte and David Freese homered in the first to make it 3-0 Pirates, but the lead didn't last very long. Nick Kingham gave up a three-spot in a trio of kinda ugly frames with a lot of help from his friends - he surrendered five hits and two walks while his teammates contributed four errors behind him, so only one run was earned. But that was the Tigers' shining moment - they got one hit in the last six innings off Felipe Rivero, George Kontos, Edgar Santana, Kyle Crick, Jack Leathersich and Brett McKinney while whiffing eight times and went down 8-3.

The gloves warmed up and the bats stayed hot. Bryce Brentz added his initial Pirates bomb to the attack while Fran Cervelli went 2-for-2, Corey Dickerson 2-for-3 with his first Bucco knocks, and David Freese had three RBI to lead the Bucco batsmen. Outside the first, Pittsburgh continued with its chip-away offense, which was an issue last year when they had problems adding on runs after a quick break out of the gate. Hopefully it remains a thing once the contests count.

  • Kevin Siegrist is slated to hit the hill tomorrow.
  • Ivan Nova tossed four frames in a minor league scrimmage yesterday. Jameson Taillon (four innings) and Joe Musgrove (two innings) will toss in Pirates City today.
  • The Bucs culled the herd a bit today. P Dario Agrazal was optioned to Altoona, P Luis Escobar was optioned to Bradenton, and C Jin-De Jhang, who is rehabbing an elbow injury, was reassigned to minor league camp.
Jin-De Jhang (photo Altoona Curve)
  • Taillon joined the Taylor Hooton foundation's advisory board, which helps educate young people about the dangers of PEDs. In Pittsburgh, the seat was previously held by Mark Melancon and then Tony Watson, who are still Hooton board members.
  • The Steelers' Mike Tomlin, Kevin Colbert and other grid guys were in camp yesterday swapping notes about analytics & coaching with Clint. 
  • Inside Edge has their 2018 Bucco preview; it's not so much a predictor as it is a smorgasbord of tasty little facts on the players.
  • Jason Dill of the Bradenton Herald wrote a fun piece on the Pirates favorite road parks; lots of fields chosen for lots of reasons.
  • Pirates president Frank Coonelly stepped into the political arena, ala late Steelers' owner Dan Rooney, by speaking at a GOP dinner that was a pep rally for congressional hopeful Rick Saccone. He brought the Pirate Parrot with him, and as Suzanne Elliott of the Trib noted, that ruffled some feathers.

3/9: Little League Classic; RIP Elbie; HBD Arky, Ronnie, Billy, Huddy, Benito, Terry, Ed, Jake, Joe & Tom

  • 1872 - IF Tom Delahanty was born in Cleveland, Ohio. During his brief 19-game, three-year career, he made a quick one-game stop in Pittsburgh in 1896, going one-for-three and scoring. He finished the year with Toronto of the Eastern League, getting into one last MLB game with Louisville in ‘97. One of five Delahanty brothers who played in the majors, Tom spent the rest of his career bouncing around the minors through 1906, retiring eventually to Florida to run a general store and moonlight as a fishing guide. 
Billy Southworth 1919-21 W514 Strip Card
  • 1893 - RF Billy Southworth was born in Harvard, Nebraska. He was a Buc from 1918-20, hitting .294, and then was traded as part of the package for Rabbit Maranville. Southworth reached the Hall of Fame thanks mainly to his managing chops; he won two World Series with the Cardinals. 
  • 1897 - RHP Ralph Fenton “Joe” Dawson was born in Bow, Washington. He pitched for the Bucs from 1927-29, mostly from the pen, and went 11-17-3 with a 4.15 ERA. Joe tossed a scoreless frame in the 1927 World Series and hit pretty well for a hurler with a .257 Pirate BA. 
  • 1912 - Hall-of-Fame SS Floyd “Arky” (for his birth state) Vaughan was born in Clifty, Arkansas. Vaughan compiled a .318 BA during a 14-year career with the Pittsburgh Pirates (1932-41) and Brooklyn Dodgers. He was named to nine All-Star teams during that span. Arky hit at least .300 in all 10 of his seasons with the Pirates, walked 937 times during his career while striking out just 276 times and in 1941, he became the first player to hit two home runs in an All-Star game. Arky was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1985. 
  • 1932 - RHP Ronnie Kline was born in Callery, Butler County. He spent eight of his 17 big league years (1952, 55-59, 68-69) hurling for the Bucs, going 66-91-14/3.77 for Pittsburgh as a starter, swingman and reliever as his career went on. Called the “Callery Hummer,” he became the mayor of Callery after he hung up the spikes. He remained there until he passed away at the age of 70. 
Jake Martin's baseball card - 1956 Topps
  • 1932 - RHP Paul “Jake” Martin was born in Brownstown, near Charleroi. The 6’5”, 235 pounder was a Mon Valley League legend and signed a two-year “bonus baby” deal with the Bucs in 1955 on the advice of former Pirates hurler Ron Necciai, a Monongahela HS grad and Mon Valley neighbor. Jake threw hard but was wild and his ride with the Pirates lasted for just seven appearances. He posted an 0-1 record with seven strikeouts, 17 walks and a 14.14 earned run average. He never had a chance to rebound; he injured his arm in August, was shut down and then sent to Cuba for winter league work. Somewhere during that span he tore the ligament in his elbow, ending his career. But Jake had no regrets. After he was long retired, he told writer Len Fiorito of Oldtyme Baseball that "I was with the team long enough to get on a baseball card and people still send me the card to sign." 
  • 1944 - RHP Ed Acosta was born in Boquete, Panama. Acosta went through the Bucs upper levels in 1970 after coming over from Houston and started his MLB career with three late season appearances that weren’t very pretty (four runs in 2-⅔ IP). In August of 1971, he was traded with Johnny Jeter to the San Diego Padres for Bob Miller. He tossed for the Friars through ‘72, spent two years as AAA depth and called it a day. 
  • 1963 - LHP Terry Mulholland was born in Uniontown and went to Laurel Highland HS. Terry played for the hometime nine just briefly, signing as a free agent and working 22 times in 2001 to a 3.72 ERA before being flipped to the Dodgers at the deadline for Mike Fetters. He was an MLB survivor - despite a 4.41 career ERA, he worked 20 years in the show (he lasted until he was 43) while tossing for 11 teams and became one of the few pitchers to beat every major league club during his run. 
Benito Santiago 2005 Pirates Promo
  • 1965 - C Benito Santiago was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico. He closed out his 20-year career in Pittsburgh after the KC Royals traded him to the Pirates for Leo Núñez (actually, Juan Carlos Oviedo, but that’s another story). The Pirates let Santiago go after 23 at-bats to clear playing time for David Ross, who they had bought from the Dodgers. They pivoted quickly on that, too, sending Ross to San Diego for JJ Furmaniak at the deadline to give Ryan Doumit & Humberto Cota a look at the job. After all the musical chairs played out, it marked the starting steps for several careers but the end of the road for Benito. 
  • 1987 - RHP Daniel "Huddy" Hudson was born in Lynchburg, Virginia. A solid starter in his earlier years, a pair of TJ surgeries limited him to 12 outings between 2012-14 and a transition to the bullpen. He made 134 appearances (7-5-9, 4.50) in the two following seasons with Arizona, featuring a 96 MPH fastball, and in December, 2016, the Pirates signed him to a two-year/$11M free agent deal with $3M more available in possible bonuses as a bullpen back-ender. After a hot-and-cold campaign (2-7, 4.38), he lost his sheen and became part of the Corey Dickerson deal with Tampa in 2018. 
  • 1994 - 1B Elbie Fletcher passed away at age 77 in his hometown of Milton, Massachusetts. Elbie joined the Pirates in June of 1939 in a deal with the Boston Braves to replace long-time 1B Gus Suhr, who was traded a few weeks after Fletcher’s arrival. Fletcher manned the spot from then through the 1947 campaign, with a couple seasons lost to the Navy during WW2. He didn’t have much power but was an on-base machine (.403 OBP/128 OPS+ as a Bucco) and a slick fielder. He split his career between Boston and Pittsburgh, spending six years, including his rookie and final seasons, in Beantown. 
Elbie Fletcher 1941 Play Ball
  • 2017 - The Commissioner announced that the first MLB Little League Classic would be played between Cardinals and Pirates on August 20th at Williamsport’s BB&T Ballpark (formerly known as Bowman Field), the second-oldest minor league ballpark in the United States, opening in 1926. The regular season game, originally scheduled to be played at PNC Park, took place in conjunction with the Little League World Series.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Notes: Bucs Bombed 13-4; TV Game v Tigers; Starters Named, Injury Report

Today: Nick Kingham goes against Detroit's Jordan Zimmermann in a 1:05 match against the Tigers at LECOM Park. Felipe Rivero, George Kontos, Edgar Santana, Kyle Crick and Jack Leathersich are set to follow. The game will be aired on AT&T SportsNet and the MLB Network.

Yesterday: Tyler Glasnow did his Charlie Morton imitation by yielding seven runs (six earned) on six hits with three walks and striking out five in 2-2/3 innings in the Pirates' 13-4 loss to the Blue Jays. Like Charlie, Glasnow got batters to hit 'em where they ain't, surrendering two infield hits, two ground ball singles and a timely boot to go with the walks. He also was tagged for a homer. Michael Feliz and Clay Holmes each served up a three-spot in their inning, with two long balls off Feliz and another off Holmes. Jordan Milbrath, Johnny Stilson and Tyler Eppler goose-egged the Jays. Pittsburgh had just five rips, with Ryan Lavarnway banging two, including a homer; J-Bell also went long.

  • Clint announced that Ivan Nova will start on Opening Day v tht Tigers and Jameson Taillon will get the call for the Pirates’ home opener v the Twins. It will be Nova's first Opening Day nod. He worked the home opener last year while Gerrit Cole had the Opening Day honors.
  • Joe Musgrove should start getting stretched next week after tossing BP and a sim game this week. He thinks he'll have enough time to get ready, but it will be close - the Pirates early schedule can bypass a fifth starter until April 8th although the campaign begins on March 29th at Detroit. 
  • Daniel Nava is back in camp after his back surgery, although he's still several weeks removed from taking part in any baseball activities.
  • Russ Martin played 3B yesterday for Toronto and went one-for-three with a home run.

3/8: HoF Casey; Fed League Forms; HBD Coldwater Jim, Iron Man, Bill, Al, Toby, Juan & Joe

  • 1869 - RHP James “Coldwater Jim” Hughey was born in Wakeshma, Michigan. A journeyman, he pitched for the Pirates from 1896-97, going 12-18 with a 5.03 ERA. Coldwater (named for his first minor league outpost and eventually where he settled) is the last pitcher to lose 30 games, doing so for a historically terrible 1899 Cleveland Spider club that finished 20-134 (he did lead the club in ERA and wins). Because of poor attendance, the Spiders played only 42 home games, setting an untouchable record of 101 road losses! 
Iron Man (l) and Pie Traynor 1939 (photo Pittsburgh Press)
  • 1912 - C Ray “Iron Man” Mueller was born in Pittsburg, Kansas. Iron Man played in Pittsburgh (PA, not KS) from 1939-40 and again in 1950, hitting .251. He earned his nickname when he caught every game the Cincinnati Reds played (155) during the 1944 season. Mueller caught a NL-record 233 consecutive games in 1943–1944 and 1946, missing 1945 when he was in the Army. 
  • 1913 - The Federal League was born as a six-team outlaw circuit with Pittsburgh (the “Feds” later becoming the “Rebels”) among its clubs. It was a minor league during its first season, but became a third major league, along the the NL and AL, from 1914-15. It initiated a costly wage war by signing established players, but the league pockets weren’t deep enough to continue the battle. After 1915, six of the eight teams were bought or merged into the NL/AL, ending the last major league to compete against the established powers. 
  • 1917 - C Bill Salkeld was born in Pocatello, Idaho. He began his career as a Pirate, batting .293 from 1945-47 as a spare catcher and pinch hitter. Salkeld retired from baseball in 1953 after spending some time in the minors and died young from cancer at the age of 50 in 1967. His grandson Roger, born four years after Bill passed away, was chosen by the Seattle Mariners in the first round of the 1989 MLB Draft, and pitched in 45 games for the Mariners and Cincinnati Reds during the mid-nineties. 
Bill Salkeld (photo TSN Archives 1945-47)
  • 1922 - OF Al Gionfriddo was born in Dysart, in Cambria County. He played four years (1944-47) as a spare OF’er and pinch hitter for the Bucs, batting .276, but made his mark after being traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. He played in the World Series that year and made a famous fence-kissing catch of a Joe DiMaggio blast to rob Jolting Joe of extra bases. As Red Barber famously called it on Mutual Radio: "...back goes Gionfriddo! Back, back, back, back, back, back...he makes a one-handed catch against the bullpen! Ohhh-hooo, Doctor!” If the line sounds familiar, it’s because ESPN’s Chris Berman adapted it to his call. 
  • 1924 - C Maurice “Toby” Atwell was born in Leesburg, Virginia. A strong defensive guy behind the plate, Atwell was a part-time Bucco catcher from 1953-56, batting .250. His career ended the next season; he had injured his knee in the minors and never fully recovered. Toby also answered to “Buster,” after silent film star Buster Keaton, because he spoke so little, per ex-Bucco Nellie King. Lloyd Larsen of the Milwaukee Sentinel added that the Cubs called him “Three Word” because that’s all he said - “hello” when he arrived at camp and “good bye” when the season ended. 
  • 1949 - RHP Juan Jimenez was born in La Torre, Dominican Republic. Jimenez’s MLB career consisted of four September, 1974 Bucco outings, giving up four runs (three earned) in four IP with six hits and two walks as a mop-up man. He had done good work during the season at AAA Charleston, going 6-9, 2.66 as a swingman. Juan spent the ‘75 campaign there and then tucked the ball in his back pocket. 
Casey Stengel 1919-21 W514 Strip Card
  • 1966 - The Hall of Fame Special Veterans Committee elected Casey Stengel to the Hall. He broke his hip in 1965, ending his managerial career, and the Committee waived his waiting period to make him immediately eligible for Cooperstown. (The electors, who weren’t sure The Ol’ Perfessor would last long enough to become eligible, needn't have worried - he lasted another decade, living to the ripe old age of 85). He was inducted July 25th. Stengel was a Pirate outfielder from 1918-19; his famous "sparrow under the hat" antic was as a Bucco. 
  • 1967 - RHP Joel Johnston was born in West Chester, PA. He was a Penn State grad and highly touted KC prospect, breaking into Baseball America’s Top 100 (#59). After a poor showing with the Royals, he was traded to the Pirates in 1993 with P Dennis Moeller for José Lind, and he rebounded with a line of 2-4-2/3.38 in 33 games. But he bombed the next year and was released in May 1994.