Duke Hits the DL, Sanchez is an All-Star and More

Let’s catch up with the weekend headlines. It was a busy couple of days not only in Pittsburgh, but around Major League Baseball as well. Two Pirates hit the disabled list, two more could represent the club at the All-Star game, two teams changed managers, and so on.

Here are the quick hits:

***

Zach Duke was placed on the 15-day disabled list with inflammation in his left elbow, and Shane Youman was called up from Indianapolis to fill his spot in the rotation.

Youman will start tomorrow against Milwaukee, then start again Sunday against the Chicago Cubs.
Youman, 27, did a decent job for the Pirates in September and during spring training.
“We hope to build on that,” general manager Dave Littlefield said.
Youman in 15 starts for Class AAA Indianapolis is 4-6 with a 4.70 earned run average. In 82.1 innings, he has allowed 94 hits, including three home runs, and 36 walks and struck out 61.

Those numbers are pedestrian, but they’re skewed by a rocky April and May. In three of his last four outings, Sugar Shane’s qualified for a quality start. He was named the International League’s pitcher of the week on June 17 after throwing dominant games back-to-back against Charlotte and Durham. He’s not a hot prospect, but he’s better than the alternative.

It’s not as if Youman has big shoes to fill, anyway. Duke has been dreadful in 2007, making you wonder if this case of “tendinitis” is really a case of “the sucks.” Nothing like a phantom injury to help quiet the talk of a demotion. (Of course, an irritated elbow could very well have been a contributing factor to his horrific stat line.)
The injury could be a blessing in disguise for those of you who would like to see the Pirates trade pitching for hitting. Littlefield would only consider moving a major-league arm if it’s proven that he has a surplus of starters. Every chance that Van Benschoten, Youman, Bullington and Burnett get to perform represents another step towards acquiring a legitimate outfield bat.
If you’re counting, Youman is the sixth starter to take the mound this year that the Pirates developed from within the organization.

***

Freddy Sanchez was named to the All-Star team, and Tom Gorzelanny made the last man ballot.

Freddy Sanchez, you ask in disbelief?

Tony LaRussa is managing to win, and if he has to take a Pirate (he does), it might as well be a useful utility player. Since Freddy can play second, third and even shortstop in a pinch, LaRussa can use his more deserving reserve infielders—Orlando Hudson, Miguel Cabrera and J.J. Hardy—without having to worry about late-inning defense.

Gorzo could join his teammate in San Francisco:

“This is my plea for people to get on the computer,” Gorzelanny said. “It would be greatly appreciated. Maybe we can come up with something like, ‘Send Gorzo to the Bay!’ ”
Gorzelanny, 8-4 with a 3.05 earned run average, faces stiff competition in his electronic campaign.
He’s up against San Diego’s Chris Young (8-3, 2.14), Arizona’s Brandon Webb (8-5, 3.05), Houston’s Roy Oswalt (7-5, 3.42) and Chicago’s Carlos Zambrano (9-6, 4.20).

You remember Chris Young from the Matt Herges trade.
If you’re interested, you can vote for Tom here. The NL and AL All-Star rosters are available at the Post-Gazette.

Notes on Chris Duffy’s injury, Steve Pearce’s big bat at Altoona, the Pirates’ clubhouse leaders, managerial vacancies in Cincinnati and Seattle, and the Fans for Change protest after the jump.

***

Chris Duffy was disabled with a sprained ankle. Matt Kata took his spot on the 25-man roster; think of him as Don Kelly on steroids: He’ll serve as a little-used infielder on the bench. To clear a spot for Kata on the 40-man roster, Marty McLeary was designated for assignment. He should make it through waivers.

In Duffy’s absence, Rajai Davis and Nate McLouth will split time in center field.

***

Steve Pearce wants to make it to the bigs this season, writes Paul Meyer in the P-G.

The stocky first baseman has a .330 batting average, 19 doubles, 2 triples, 11 home runs and 50 RBIs in 58 games with the [Double-A Altoona] Curve.
Simply by reaching Altoona this year, Pearce achieved another goal. He is a teammate of Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen, two of the Pirates’ most highly regarded prospects.

He’s a right-handed bat, so if Pearce were to be rushed, at least the possibility of a first base platoon exists. More likely than not, we won’t see any of our Altoona prospects until September of 2008.

***

Shawn Chacon and Xavier Nady are the Pirates’ leaders, writes Dejan.

***

Mike Hargrove surprisingly resigned from his position as manager of the Seattle Mariners. Head to MVN’s Caffeinated Confines for the story.

Jerry Narron’s out in Cincinnati, too, as the “Reds fire [their] manager after worst start in US major leagues.” I chuckled a little at the headline; I mean, at 31-51, Cincinnati’s pretty terrible, but it almost makes Narron out to be the worst manager in baseball history.

Narron was replaced by Pete Mackanin, former Pirate bench coach and interim manager—he took over the reigns in 2005 after Lloyd McClendon got the ax.

***

If you’re still looking for the results of Saturday’s protest, head here.

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