What's Next For Jack Wilson?

In an interesting turn of events, Jack Wilson has been benched the past 4 games in favor of the once-maligned Jose Castillo. Ironically, it was Wilson that called out Castillo in spring training, questioning his focus: “I want whoever’s going to make this a winning team,” Wilson said. “Right now, Freddy is my second baseman, in my mind. He’s the guy I can trust to go 100 percent and get the job done....

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Downfall of the Fam-A-Lee – Part 12

In the previous posts I’ve made the case that the Pirates collapse in the mid-80s was not the result of trades made to acquire the players that appeared on the 1979 post-season roster. Here’s a brief rundown of some other trades in the 1970s in which the Bucs didn’t acquire a member of the 1979 post-season roster. I’m examining trades that resulted in the Pirates losing a player who was active during the 1984 to 1986 time frame. Other...

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Personnel Changes on the Horizon for the Pirates

A couple of quick bursts today based primarily on a handful of articles concerning the Jack Wilson controversy and John Van Benschoten’s impending call-up. First, in the Post-Gazette’s Pirates Q&A this morning, there’s an exchange between David Chottiner and Dejan Kovacevic: Q: Dejan, I think we all have been a bit shocked at the level of play and intensity of Jose Castillo over the past week. Considering we have...

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Indians Forget What Those Big Sticks Are For

boxscore (photos by NancyZ)
Jose Hernandez -- photo by NancyZ
Remember those big wooden sticks? Rounded things? Kind of knobby on one end? The general idea is to use them to hit the little white ball with red stitches (not the really little white ball with dimples). The Indians’ problem tonight was that only Jose Hernandez (photo) remembered that part. The Indians were one-hit by three Durham Bulls’ pitchers tonight, and shut out, losing to the Bulls by a score of 5-0 at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, NC.
Durham starter Jeff Niemann pitched 6.1 shutout innings, giving up only one hit, to DH Jose Hernandez in the Indians’ half of the 4th inning. But the next two batters struck out, to end the inning and leave Hernandez stranded on first base. Niemann gave up three walks to Tribe batters. CF Luis Matos and 3B Russ Johnson each walked, and then each stole second base. Matos advanced as far as third base on a fly out by LF Michael Ryan, but neither Matos nor Johnson were able to score. Jose Hernandez also walked, but was erased with a double play. SS Nick Green was hit by a pitch, but he was forced out at second base on a fielder’s choice to end the inning. Those were all the baserunners the Indians could muster during the game.
Niemann also struck out 8 Tribe batters as he earned his 6th win of the season. He was relieved in the 7th inning by Scott Dohmann, who pitched 1.2 innings without giving up a hit, and striking out one. Chad Orvella pitched the 9th inning, also without giving up a hit, and he struck out two Tribe batters. That’s a total of 11 strikeouts for the Indians’ hitters. Each of the tribe batters except Jose Hernandez and Luis Ordaz struck out at least once.
The sad fact about the Indians’ pitching tonight: the Tribe pitchers struck out a total of 12 Bull’s hitters — one more than the number of Tribe batters struck out. That’s 45% of the outs in this game coming as strikeouts.

Marty McLeary -- photo by NancyZ
Indians’ starter Marty McLeary (photo) struck out 9 in his 5.1 innings. He got through the first two scoreless innings while giving up only one hit, a double to Bulls’ 3B Joel Guzman. But then in the third inning, with one out, McLeary walked C Michel Hernandez. 2B Elliot Johnson tripled to center field to score Hernandez. Johnson scored on a sacrifice fly by former Indianapolis Indian (2005) Jorge Velandia. That put Durham ahead by a score of 2-0.
Durham put two more insurance runs up in the 6th inning. Jorge Velandia walked and stole second base, and DH Justin Ruggiano also walked. McLeary got 1B Brent Butler to strike out. Then another former Indian (2006), LF Chris Richard, singled into center field to score Velandia. That was the end of McLeary’s outing. Reliever Mark Corey came in for only his 5th appearance of the season, the 4th in relief. Joel Guzman hit a sacrifice fly to score Velandia, but then CF Dustin Mohr grounded out to third base to end the inning.
McLeary threw 103 pitches as he was pinned with his 2nd loss of the season. He gave up 4 runs, all earned, on 3 hits, with 4 walks. Mark Corey finished the 6th inning, going 0.2 innings without giving up a hit. Brian Rogers entered the game in the 7th inning. He gave up one run on one hit, when DH Justin Ruggiano smashed a triple deep into right field, and then scored on Brent Butler’s sacrifice fly. Rogers also struck out three batters.
“We didn’t play well in the series finale at Charlotte, and we didn’t play well tonight”, said manager Trent Jewett after the game. “We’re 65 games into the season, and these are the first back-to-back losses where we weren’t in either game. It’s frustrating to have a pair of lopsided losses like this, but the nice thing about this game is that you get to do it all over tomorrow. We’ll try to get this one out of our minds, and get ready for the final three games of this series.”
Indians’ hitting gem of the game: Not much to choose from — has to be Jose Hernandez, who managed to figure out Jeff Niemann enough to get one hit from him.
Indians’ defensive gem of the game: Twelve strikeouts by McLeary and Rogers. That ties the season record for strikeouts in one game — the Indians also did it on May 4th, in Pawtucket. McLeary’s 9 strikeouts is one more than John Wasdin had on Tuesday — the highest number of strikeouts for one individual Tribe pitcher in a game this season.
Sean Burnett threw in the bullpen yesterday, and it went well. He has been on the DL with left elbow tenderness, but could be back soon if tomorrow’s bullpen session goes as well as yesterday’s did.
John Van Benschoten  -- photo by NancyZ
The Pirates announced this afternoon that pitcher Shawn Chacon will be moved from the starting rotation and will return to the bullpen. John Van Benschoten will be promoted to Pittsburgh on Saturday (not before) and will start the Pirates’ game against the Chicago White Sox in Pittsburgh. Michael Tejera will start Friday’s game against Durham for the Indians, which Van Benschoten had been scheduled to start.
C Humberto Cota’s 10 days after being designated for assignment is up today. Discussion at the ballpark today revolved around what Cota would do — report to Indianapolis? refuse the assignment and become a free agent to see what other teams might be interesting? Still no word on the answer.
The Pirates have already signed 19 of their draft picks from last week. First round pick Daniel Moskos has not yet signed, but negotiations are going well.
Go Tribe!

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Game #66 vs. Texas

PNC Park | 7:05 | Gorzelanny vs. Kameron Loe | Box Jerry Hairston led off the game with a homer, and that’s all the run support Kameron Loe would need Thursday night. The Rangers shut out the Bucs, 6-0, in one of the most frustrating games of the season. Travis Metcalf and Gerald Laird also took Tom Gorzelanny deep. Metcalf’s blast was the first hit of his major-league career. The Pirate offense never got started. Chris...

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A Few Minutes With Bryan Bullington

In his last start, Tribe starter Bryan Bullington was able to go only one inning before being removed due to shoulder stiffness and arm tiredness. The plan at this point is for him to miss one start, and then (hopefully) be able to get right back into the rotation. Bullington’s record is currently 9-3, with a 2.83 ERA. He is leading the International League in wins, and is third in the league with 76.1 innings pitched. The 26-year old right-hander has given up 63 hits and struck out 46.
Prior to that last start, Bullington had won his last 3 starts, and was particularly tough on his May 31st start, when he pitched 8 innings. A few days ago (but before that last start), Bullington was kind enough to sit down with me and answer some questions.
The game on May 31st was an excellent outing.
BB: Thanks! It was one of the better nights I’ve had as far as having all my pitches, throwing strikes, and getting ahead of guys… When we’re swinging the bat well, you want to get out and back off the field quick so our guys can keep swinging. It was a team effort.
Bryan Bullington on the mound -- photo by NancyZ
Did you wish you could go out there and swing the bat too?
BB: (laughing) No, I’ll let those guys take care of that. That’s their job.
How did it feel to face Buffalo outfielder Brad Snyder, who had been your teammate at Ball State?
BB: It was fun. We played at their place (in Buffalo, earlier in May)… We’d gone against each other a few times during fall ball and in college, so this wasn’t the first time we’d faced each other in a game situation. He’s had a good start to his minor league career these past couple of years, and now he’s become a very good player, and has a chance of being a good one in the big leagues as well.
Who has the advantage when you face each other? Does he know what pitches you’re throwing?
BB: I don’t know…. I’d always rather be in my shoes, because I know what I’m going to throw and what’s coming. He’s a good hitter, and he’s doing a good job at the plate. It’s a good challenge. He’s seen me pitch a few times, so yeah, he knows what I’ve got.

Bryan Bullington --photo by NancyZ
What about these long road trips, and days off on the road?
BB: Long, really long…. it starts to drag on a bit, that’s for sure…. Any time you have a day off on the road, it’s not a lot of fun. We were able to get out and hit the golf ball a little bit, so it wasn’t a lost day.
What do you do on the road, on the bus?
BB: On the bus, it’s usually a movie going, listen to music, talk on the phone here and there, catch up with friends and family, hope that time passes. On the road, I try to go to a gym in the morning and get a bite to eat and get to the field. I try to keep myself as busy as possible.
How was it to have Masumi Kuwata on the team?
BB: “Nico” is his nickname. He’s a great guy. I got to know him in spring training. He’s a hard worker, and he takes his training very seriously… I’m sure he’s going to pitch well. I’m sure he’s excited about the opportunity.
It won’t be long until you get the opportunity to pitch in the majors.
BB: I hope so. I’m going to pitch as well as I can here in Indianapolis, and hopefully force their hand so that they have to make a decision. Keep pitching well, and have the option. We have a couple of guys down here who are throwing the ball really well right now also. Just keep working, keep getting better each time out.
Bryan Bullington  -- photo by NancyZ
How does it feel to be pitching in Indianapolis, your home town?
BB: It’s a fun experience. If you’re not going to be in the big leagues, if you’re going to be in AAA, then this is definitely the place I’d like to be. My parents live 20 minutes from the ballpark. They get down here to see me start. They are going to get down here during the summer quite a bit. My wife and I had our first daughter in the off-season. So it’s been nice. We have a lot of friends and family in the area, so it’s been fun.
Does your daughter get to come to the ball games?
BB: She makes it down for the day games, and stays for a couple of innings at some of the night games. It’s past her bedtime.
What’s your favorite thing about Indianapolis?
BB: We lived here when I was younger, and then my parents moved back here when I was at Ball State. I like it. It’s the perfect size town in my mind. There’s plenty to do. There’s lots of activity. But you don’t have the terrible traffic, and you don’t have the overpopulation. My wife and I live in Chicago now, so it’s a little different. It’s a little slower paced (in Indianapolis), which is nice. You have all the activity, plenty of nice golf courses and restaurants, plenty of things to do, so I like it.
Thanks to Bryan for his time!
Go Tribe!
(photos by NancyZ)

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