This is the 27th edition of Pittsburgh Pirates Roundtable, a bi-weekly collaboration of Pirates writers and thinkers from around the Internet. If youd like to submit a question to our panel, or if youre interested in learning more about participating, e-mail the moderator here. Question #1: If you were Dave Littlefield, what would you have done with Jose Castillo? Nicolas from “82″: If I were GM, I would have done...
A back-up catcher from Panama:
born: 12/28/1972� in Chiriqui, Panama
Ht: 5′ 10″�� Wt: 200 lb���������� B: Right��� T: Right
Einar Diaz (pronounced ay-NAR) brings major league catching experience to the Indians.� He was first signed by the Cleveland Indians as an undrafted free agent in 1990.� He began his pro career in the Dominican Summer League (Rookie), and moved up through the Cleveland minor league system, making stops in Burlington (Rookie), Columbus SC (A), Kingston (A+ ), Akron (AA), and Buffalo (AAA).� He was primarily catching, though he also played a few games at third base.� He made his MLB debut on Sept 9, 1996, as a back up for Cleveland catcher Sandy Alomar Jr.� During 1997 and 1998, he played mostly in Buffalo, where he hit .256 AVG with 31 RBI in 1997, and .313 AVG with 63 RBI in 1998.� He played in 5 games with Cleveland in 1997, getting one hit in 7 AB’s, and in 1998 he got into 17 games with Cleveland, hitting .229 AVG with 9 RBI.� In 1999, Sandy Alomar Jr. was injured and Diaz became the starting catcher.�� He played in 119 games for Cleveland, hitting .281 AVG, with 3 HR and 32 RBI.� In 2000, he didn’t play in as many games, but still hit .272 AVG with 25 RBI.� For the 2001 and 2002 seasons, Diaz was again the primary catcher for Cleveland.� In 2001, he hit .277 AVG for the regular season,�but went 5 for 16 with 2 RBI in the division playoffs.� In 2002, his average slid to .206.�
At the end of 2002, Diaz was traded from Cleveland to the Texas Rangers along with Ryan Drese in exchange for Aaron Myette and Travis Hafner.� He�platooned at�catcher along with Rod Barajas�for the Rangers in 2003, and hit .257 AVG with 4 HR and 35 RBI.� He also had only 4 passed balls, fewer than in the previous two years with Cleveland.� At the end of spring training in 2004, Diaz was traded by the Rangers, along with Justin Echols, to the Montreal Expos, for Josh McKinley and Chris Young.� Diaz was back up catcher and appeared in 55 games with the Expos, and hit only .223 AVG with 11 RBI.� He became a free agent at the end of the season, and signed with the St. Louis Cardinals for 2005.� He batted .208 AVG with 17 RBI while backing up catcher Yadier Molina and also played three games at first base.�
Diaz started the 2006 season back with the Cleveland Indians’ organization, assigned to Buffalo (AAA).� In 64 games with Buffalo, he hit .218 and hit 29 RBI.� He also pitched in one game.� On June 4th, Buffalo and Durham played�a double header in which both games were supposed to go 7 innings.� In the first game, which did go seven innings, Buffalo used three pitchers.� In the second game,�Buffalo tied it up at 2 – 2 in the bottom of the 4th inning — and neither team scored for the next 10 innings.� By then, Buffalo had used 5 pitchers, and was running out of options, so Diaz was sent in to pitch in the top of the 16th inning.� He got the first two batters out, a fly ball and a pop up, but then gave up a single, a walk, and a single, scoring a run.� When Buffalo couldn’t come back in the bottom of the inning, Diaz was the losing pitcher.�
In August 2006, Diaz’s contract was purchased by the Los Angeles Dodgers, who sent him to Las Vegas (AAA).� He appeared in two games there, getting 3 hits including�2 doubles in�7�AB’s.� He then played in three games for the Dodgers, where he had 2 hits in 3 AB’s.
Diaz was signed as a minor league free agent by the Pirates, and reported to spring training as a non-roster invitee.� He appeared in 12 of the Pirates’ Grapefruit League games, hitting 6 for 15, with 2 RBI and 2 walks.� He�also allowed 6 stolen bases in 6 attempts.� He was assigned to minor league camp on March 27th, and is expected to come to Indianapolis, where he will back up Carlos Maldonado.� Diaz brings a wealth of major league experience and the ability to help teach young pitchers.
In yesterday’s game, the Indy Indians lost to the Louisville Bats 8 – 3.� In minor league spring training games, some odd things are allowed — such as having one player bat in every inning.� Both the Indians and the Bats did this yesterday.� Pirates’ infielder Freddy Sanchez, who needed to make up for missing plate appearances due to a sprained knee,�batted second in eight�innings for the Tribe, going 3 for 8.� The Reds’ Scott Hatteburg went 3 for 5 with a walk in his extra plate appearances.� Sanchez did not run the bases or play defense.� Indians’ Alay Soler pitched 3 innings and gave up 2 runs, one earned, while striking out 4, and took the loss.� The�Indians have an intrasquad game scheduled for today, with Sanchez slated to get in plate appearances and also play in the field.�The Tribe’s�next spring training game is tomorrow, hosting the Louisville Bats in Bradenton.�
Pitcher Marty McLeary has been optioned to Indianapolis.� The Pirates still have to make at least 4 roster moves to get down to the 25 man limit by Sunday.
Only one more week until Opening Day!
Another Pittsburgh-area native�for the�Pirates…
born: 1/26/1981� in Beaver, Pennsylvania
Ht:� 6′ 5″���������Wt: 235 lb.
Josh Sharpless was selected by the Pirates in the 2003 draft.� He began his pro career with Williamsport that same season, and posted his first professional save on July 27th.� He finished the season with a 1-1 record and 5 saves, going 31.1 innings in 22 appearances.� He gave up 19 hits and struck out 45, with a 2.59 ERA.� Sharpless played the 2004 season in Hickory, where he led the team in appearances with 44, for 74.1 innings, all in relief.� He started off slowly,�with a 9.00 in 11 innings in his first�seven appearances, but�his next 10 appearances were scoreless, and�he�continued to pitch well during the remainder of the season.� He gave up only one run in his final�13 appearances.�His record was 6 – 2 with 4 saves, with a 3.03 ERA and 109 strikeouts.� Sharpless split the 2005 season between Lynchburg and Altoona.� He started the year by pitching 27 innings in 17 appearances for Lynchburg, and giving up no earned runs, while striking out 46.� He was promoted to Altoona on June 12th.� His first four appearances with the Curve were scoreless, and then he gave up 3 earned runs in his last 3 appearances, for a 2.89 ERA, with 13 strikeouts.� On June 30th,�his season�ended when he�was placed on the�DL with right elbow inflammation.�
Sharpless�began the 2006 season in Altoona, where he earned 8 saves in�21 innings and 14 appearances.� He gave up only 2 earned runs, for a 0.86 ERA, and struck out 30.� He was promoted to Indianapolis on May 18th.� In his first five games, with the Indians, he gave up only one run, and he was not scored upon in seven straight appearances from mid-June until July 4th.��Sharpless�was named to the All-Star Futures Game at PNC�Park, and he pitched 1.1 scoreless innings in the game, including striking out a batter with the bases loaded when he entered the game in the 5th inning.� He pitched a total of 33 innings in Indianapolis, with a 1 – 1 record and one save, for a 2.45 ERA.� Sharpless was promoted to Pittsburgh on July 31st and made his MLB debut on August 1st.� In his debut, he walked the bases loaded, but then got out of the inning without allowing a�run to score.� On August 9th, he sprained his right ankle, and was on the DL for the rest of the month.��When he returned, he gave up only one run in�his final 10 appearances, and one hit in his final 5 appearances.� He ended his stint with the Pirates with a 1.50 ERA over 12 innings, with 11 strikeouts.
Sharpless is on the Pirates’ 40-man roster, and reported to major league camp for spring training.� He pitched in 8 of the Pirates’ Grapefruit League games, for a total of 8.2 innings, giving up 2 earned runs for a 2.08 ERA with 5 hits and 6 strikeouts.� However, he has been having problems with control and has given up 7 walks.� With several pitchers vying for a few spots in the Pirates’ bullpen, Sharpless�was�optioned to Indianapolis yesterday.� He will be working on his control, and will not likely be with the Tribe for long.
From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Masumi Kuwata will be assigned to Indianapolis when he returns from his ankle injury.
Javier Guzman has been removed from the Pirates’ 40-man roster, and will be assigned to Altoona.
A quick scan of the baseball news over the last couple of days brought me face-to-face with a couple of stories about ex-Buccos. One memorable. One not so much. According to this story, Craig Wilson hasn’t toned down the personality that angered Pirates front office personnel. And, surprisingly, Victor Santos has enjoyed a nice Spring with the Reds. So, how have some exiled 2006 Bucs fared this Spring? Jeromy Burnitz has...
A few days ago in the comments, Vaughn made a claim that was music to my ears: Pretty much all of those minor league numbers [posted by the Pirates' starting pitchers] are sick. Weve got quite a quartet here, and [Sean] Burnett could join them. This is how franchises are built, around the rotation, and weve got quite a good one brewing. We could also have the best fifth starter in all of baseball too, with Tony Armas. … [He's]...
A well-travelled returnee from 2006:
born: 12/09/1973���� in Palm Springs, CA
Ht:� 6′ 2″���� Wt:� 220 lb.�������������� B: Right��� T: Right
Chris Truby was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Houston Astros in� 1992, after playing high school baseball in Hawaii.� He began his professional career in 1993 with the GCL Astros.� He progressed slowly up through the Astros minor league system, with stops in Auburn (A- ), Quad Cities (A), Osceola (A+ ), Kissimmee (A+ ), Jackson (AA), and New Orleans (AAA).� He played mainly at third base, but could also handle first and second bases.�� In 1998, he hit .311 with 14 HR and 48 RBI in 52 games at Kissimmee and .289 with 16 HR and 63 RBI in 80 games at Jackson.��Truby made his MLB debut in 2000 with the Astros, hitting .260 AVG with 11 HR and 59 RBI in 78 games.� He split both 2000 and 2001 between New Orleans and Houston, hitting .312 with 12 HR and 71 RBI for New Orleans in 2001.�
In March 2002, the Astros traded Truby to the Montreal Expos for Geoff Blum.� Truby played in 35 games for the Expos, hitting .257 AVG with 2 HR and 7 RBI.� On May 16th, he was again traded, from the Expos to the Detroit Tigers for Jose Macias.� He played 3 games for Toledo (AAA) in the Tigers’ system, where he went 4 for 12, including 2 triples and a solo home run.� He played the remainder of the season with Detroit, though he struggled at the plate, finishing with a .199 AVG, 2 HR, and 15 RBI.� Truby became a free agent at the end of the season, and signed with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for 2003.� He played most of the season in Durham, hitting .263 HR, 16 HR, and 48 RBI.��Truby was a free agent again in 2004, this time signing with the Pittsburgh Pirates.� He played the entire season at Nashville (the AAA affiliate at that time), where his manager was Trent Jewett.� He hit an even .300 AVG, with 25 HR and�83 RBI, and clearly impressed Jewett.� The 2005 season brought another round of free agency, and another destination in his travels:� Omaha (AAA) in the Kansas City system.� He hit .242 AVG�in Omaha, with 20 HR and 66 RBI.��Truby became a free agent yet again for 2006, this time signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers.� He played in 42 games with Las Vegas (AAA), but hit only .215 AVG with 19 RBI, and he was released.� On the recommendation of Trent Jewett, Truby was signed by the Pirates to play in Indianapolis.� There was an important perk to this destination in Truby’s travels — his wife is from the Indy area, and they have a home in the north side suburbs.� Truby hit .222 AVG with the Indians, with 5 HR and 25 RBI.�
Truby seems to have found a way to stop travelling for awhile — he signed again with the Pirates for the 2007 season and is expected to play in Indianapolis.� He reported to the minor league camp, and has had two big games within this past week.� On the 17th, he hit a 3-run home run for the Indians, and on the 20th, he went 2 for 5 with an RBI.� He has also played in one of the Pirates’ Grapefruit League games, hitting a single and scoring in his only plate appearance.�
The Pirates have optioned pitcher Josh Sharpless to Indianapolis, and reassigned catcher Einar Diaz and outfielder Michael Ryan to the minor league camp.� Both Diaz and Ryan are expected to be on the Indians’ roster.� Sharpless has had some control problems during spring training.� He pitched for Altoona, Indianapolis, and Pittsburgh in 2006.� Ryan has done well both at the plate and on defense in spring training, but lost out in the numbers game.� Diaz has not seen much action in spring training, though he was batting .417 AVG.
Brad Lincoln, the Pirates’ first round draft pick of 2006 has had his first session of pitching off the mound since mid- February.� He had elbow irritation and was feared to have injured ligaments.� He has been in a structured throwing program for about four weeks, and now has been cleared to start throwing from the hill.� He reported no pain in the elbow after the first session.� Lincoln is expected to remain in Florida for extended spring training, and then eventually be assigned to Hickory.
Masumi Kuwata’s x-rays showed no fracture in his ankle “only” a severe high ankle sprain after colliding with an umpire while backing up a play at 3rd yesterday.� He is expected to be out for 4 to 6 weeks.� It’s still unclear how this will affect his chances of being able to play in the US at all.
The Indians lost to the Norfolk Tides by a 6 – 5 score this afternoon.� The Tides were leading 4 – 2 going into the 5th inning.� Then 2B Luis Ordaz hit a solo home run (2 for 3 with 2 RBI) and DH Yurendell de Caster hit a 2-run double to take the lead, 5 – 4.� However, the�Tides rallied again in the next inning and held on for the win.� Tribe pitcher Kevin� Gryboski took the loss, going 2 innings and giving up 2 hits, 2 earned runs, 2 walks, and striking out 2.� The Indians play again tomorrow afternoon, against the Louisville Bats in Sarasota.
Andrew McCutcheon, who was optioned to Altoona a few days ago, returned to the major league camp today to play in the Pirates’ game.� He served notice that he may not be gone long — going 2 for 3, with a double and an RBI.� His batting average this spring is .327.�