Shortstop signings: Former Pirate Brian Bixler has signed a minor league contract with the Nationals, and will likely be back to face the Indy Indians as a member of the Syracuse Chiefs. Former Pirate Argenis Diaz, who was not offered a contract by the Pirates after this season, has signed a minor league contract with the Tigers. We will likely see him again as a member of the Toledo Mudhens.
Cheering for Pirates’ players and friends in Tuesday’s winter league action:
DOMINICAN LEAGUE — Final regular season games
Leones del Escogido 6, Toros del Este 2 — Los Leones’ 4-run 6th inning gave them plenty of offense. Los Toros were held to just 4 hits, with only one hit over the first 6 innings. They scored one run in the 7th on a triple and a sacrifice fly, and one in the 9th on a single, a double, and an RBI ground out. SS Pedro Ciriaco struck out in all three of his at-bats and also committed a fielding error which led to a run in the 4th.
PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Gigantes de Carolina 5, Senadores de San Juan 4 — Benji Gonzalez got into a game for Los Gigantes for the first time in over a month. He entered the game in the top of the 8th to pinch-run after a double. A fly out moved him to third base, but he was left there when the inning ended. Then Gonzalez remained in the game to play second base, where he made 2 plays. Los Senadores scored 3 runs in the 1st inning, an were leading 4-3 going into the 9th. A 2-run homer in the top of the 9th gave Los Gigantes the win.
Cardenales de Lara 6, Tiburones de La Guaira 3 — Former Indy Indian (2008) TJ Beam made his Venezuelan League debut for Los Tiburones, but it was not a happy start. He faced 4 batters and allowed 2 singles and 2 walks, with one run scoring before he was relieved. A wild pitch by his relief and a double gave Lara 4 runs in the top of the 1st. They added single runs in the 7th and 9th innings. Los Tiburones cut the early lead in half with 2 runs in the 3rd. Then in the bottom of the 8th, Los Tiburones homered off Lara’s reliever Romulo Sanchez, who gave up 2 walks after the homer.
Caribes de Anzoategui 7, Tigres de Aragua 3 (Game 1) — Los Caribes scored 5 runs in their last two at-bats for the come-from-behind win. In the 5th, a single, a sacrifice bunt, a wild pitch, and a walk put Caribes on the corners. LF Jose Tabata reached base on a throwing error, which allowed the runner on third to score. A double drove in two more runs (including Tabata). The 6th inning began with a pair of walks and a triple brought those runners across the plate. Tabata also singled in the 1st inning, when Los Caribes scored one run, but he was out at third base. Los Caribes also scored a run in the 2nd. Los Tigres began the game with a 2-run homer in the top of the 1st, and they added another run on a walk and a double in the 5th. 1B Hector Gimenez singled for Aragua after the home run in the 1st. SS Ronny Cedeno and CF Jorge Cortes were both hitless in the first game of the double header.
Caribes 5, Tigres 0 (Game 2) — Cedeno, Cortes, and Gimenez were all hitless in the night-cap, as Los Tigres were held to just 3 hits. Los Caribes scored 3 runs in the 1st and 2 more in the 2nd. Tabata did not get into the game.
Looking in on Pirates’ players and friends in Saturday’s winter league action:
Estrellas de Oriente 6, Tigres del Licey 3 — Los Tigres posted only 5 hits, but they also hurt themselves by committing 4 errors. They scored all of their runs in the 3rd inning on a 3-run homer. DH Ronny Paulino, C Robinzon Diaz, and 1B Jake Fox were all hitless for Los Tigres. Los Estrellas took advantage of the errors to score 2 runs in each of the 1st, 5th, and 8th innings. Half of their runs were unearned.
Gigantes del Cibao 7, Leones del Escogido 3 — Mike Dubee earned his third Dominican League win for Los Gigantes. Dubee entered the game in the top of the 5th inning, with Los Gigantes leading 3-2, two runners on base, and two outs. The first batter he faced reached base on a fielding error at third base, allowing the tying run to score. The next batter singled up the middle, but the throw in from center field let C JR House tag the lead runner out at the plate to end the inning. House was the lead-off batter in Los Gigantes’ half of the inning, and he began a rally with a single into center field. A sacrifice bunt and a single brought in House with the go-ahead run, and another single and an RBI ground out gave Dubee and Los Gigantes an insurance run. Dubee pitched a scoreless 6th inning, and then was relieved. Los Gigantes added 2 more runs in the 8th on two singles, a walk, and a fielding error.
PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Criollos de Caguas 2, Leones de Ponce 0 — The Caguas pitchers allowed only 4 Ponce hitters to reach base, on three singles and a double scattered throughout the game, and two of the base runners were erased with double plays. Los Criollos scored their first run in the 4th, when 3B Ramon Vazquez led off with a walk, and scored on a single and an RBI double. A triple and an RBI single gave them another run in the 7th, and that was all they needed.
Checking in on some Pirates’ players and friends in Friday night’s winter league games:
Navegantes del Magallanes 7, Bravos de Margarita 5 — Jean Machi pitched a perfect 9th inning to earn his 6th Save for Los Navegantes. His teammates took a 5-1 lead in the bottom of the 6th with a two-out rally, scoring 5 runs on two doubles, four singles, and a walk. They added 2 more runs in the 7th on four more singles. Los Bravos put their first run on the board in the 3rd with three singles. A grand slam by CF Frank Diaz in the top of the 8th brought Los Bravos closer, but Machi held them off in the 9th. Just released SS Argenis Diaz came into the game to play shortstop in the top of the 9th, and he scooped the grounder that was Machi’s first out.
Tigres de Aragua 8, Aguilas de Zulia 1 — Two Pirates’ teammates on Los Tigres…. one tendered a contract, one not… SS Ronny Cedeno was hit by a pitch in the top of the 1st, stole second base, then scored on a 2-run homer. C Raul Chavez’s home run in the 2nd inning gave Los Tigres a 3-0 lead. In the 5th, a throwing error and a single put two runners on base. Cedeno bunted them both into scoring position, then CF Lastings Milledge drove in one run with an RBI single into right field. Los Tigres capped their scoring with 4 runs in the 6th. A single and two walks loaded the bases. Chavez was hit by a pitch, forcing in the first run. A single brought in the second run, and Cedeno’s ground out plated the third run. A walk to Milledge loaded the bases again, and another walk forced in Chavez with the fourth run of the inning. Chavez had an embarrassing moment in the 5th — with runners on first and second bases, Chavez lined right to the Zulia third baseman, who started a triple play.
PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Criollos de Caguas 4, Gigantes de Carolina 3 — Los Gigantes had the early lead, starting with a run in the 1st, when former Indy Indian LF Luis Matos doubled and scored. In the 2nd, a ground-rule double, a walk, a fielding error by 3B Ramon Vazquez, and a single gave them a 3-0 lead. An RBI single by SS Luis Figueroa drove in Los Criollos’ first run in the 5th. Then a single, a triple, and a 3-run homer in the 6th gave Los Criollos the win. Figueroa also singled in the 1st, and Vazquez singled in the 3rd.
When the deadline for offering contracts passed last night, four new free agents were created.
The Pirates offered contracts to pitcher Jeff Karstens and SS Ronny Cedeno, both as expected. But they elected not to tender contracts to pitchers Donnie Veal and Brian Burres, SS Argenis Diaz, and OF Lastings Milledge.
Veal is still recovering from elbow surgery, and is expected to sign a minor league deal with the Pirates. Since he is going to have to spend some time in the minors when he returns anyway, this is not likely to affect his progress much. The other three are all free agents now.
Other notes: Former Pirate C Ronny Paulino was also non-tendered by the Marlins, and he also is now a free agent. Pittsburgh native INF Josh Wilson, who played for the Indy Indians in 2008, was resigned by the Mariners. (NOT Jack Wilson, who is also on the Mariners’ roster.) OF Eric Hinske was signed as a free agent by the Braves. P Zach Duke signed a contract with the Diamondbacks, avoiding arbitration.
A few signing notes for some former Pirates — LHP Phil Dumatrait has signed a minor league contract with the Twins, and LHP Neal Cotts has signed a minor league contract with the Yankees. OF Rajai Davis was traded from the A’s to the Blue Jays.
Sunday’s winter league action involving a few Pirates’ players and friends:
Aguilas Cibaenas 12, Tigres del Licey 1 — A 6-run 1st inning put the game into Los Aguilas’ pocket right from the start. Starling Marte came into the game in the 5th inning as a pinch runner (he didn’t score), then remained in the game in left field. He flied out in the 7th, then hit an RBI single in the 8th. Denny Bautista was one of the few Licey pitchers who held Los Aguilas scoreless, as he threw a perfect top of the 9th for Los Tigres. Indy area native Jake Fox went 0-for-4 for Los Tigres.
Tiburones de La Guaira 6, Tigres de Aragua 2 — Los Tiburones scored 5 runs over the first 3 innings, and Los Tigres could only manage 2 runs. In the top of the 1st, SS Ronny Cedeno followed a lead-off single with a sacrifice bunt, then another single brought in the first Aragua run. Their second run came in the 6th inning, when Cedeno led off with a double into left field, and a few minutes later, 1B Hector Gimenez doubled into right field, bringing in Cedeno. C Miguel Perez came in as a defensive replacement behind the plate, but flied out in his only plate appearance. CF Jorge Cortes went 0-for-3 with a walk. Former Pirate pitcher Chris Hernandez pitched the top of the 9th for La Guaira. He gave up a walk, but then got Cortes to bounce into a double play to end the game.
Cardenales de Lara 7, Navegantes del Magallanes 2 — Los Navegantes were also only able to put up 2 runs, one in the 2nd, and one in the 7th. SS Argenis Diaz contributed one of Los Navegantes’ 5 hits, but he did not score. Corey Hamman pitched the 7th inning for Magallanes, and he gave up a solo home run.
Bravos de Margarita 2, Aguilas de Zulia 1 — Anthony Claggett won his second game in two days for Los Bravos, this time with one scoreless inning of work (it was 1.1 innings yesterday). Los Bravos scored one run in the bottom of the 4th on a double, a single, and a grounder. Los Aguilas tied the score in the top of the 6th, also with a single and a double. Claggett took the mound to begin the 7th. He gave up a lead-off single, then retired the next three batters he faced. In the bottom of the inning, Los Bravos scored the go-ahead run on a single, a bunt, a wild pitch, and a sacrifice fly. That made Claggett the pitcher of record. Ronald Belisario pitched a perfect 9th inning for Margarita to collect his 10th save of the season.