LaRoche Still Struggling At the Plate

Thursday’s winter league action with Pirates’ players and friends…� the Dominican and Puerto Rican Leagues begin play on Friday.

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE

Bravos de Margarita� 3,� Cardinales de Lara� 2� — 3B Andy LaRoche continued to struggle at the plate, going 0-for-4 for Margarita.� Los Bravos scored one run in the top of the 1st on a double, a stolen base, and a throwing error.� Lara tied the score in the bottom of the 4th with a solo home run.� Margarita took the lead again in the top of the 7th, and another fielding error jump started the inning.� After a walk and a strikeout, LaRoche grounded to third, resulting in a force out at second base, though LaRoche was safe at first.� He scored on a 2-run double by DH Selwyn Langaigne.� Lara scored one run in the 8th on a double and a single, and they had the bases loaded, but Los Bravos got out of the inning without any more runs scoring.� Jhonathan Ramos came on in relief of Margarita’s starter Will Savage in the 6th.� Ramos got the ground out to end the inning, then retired three straight batters in the 7th.

Leones de Caracas� 6,� Tiburones de La Guaira� 4� — Former Pirate C Carlos Maldonado blasted a 3-run homer in Caracas’ 4-run 7th inning, and he also singled earlier in the game.� Caracas posted 13 hits in the game.

Navegantes del Magallanes� 5,� Tigres de Aragua� 1� — Magallanes also had a 4-run inning, then scored another run in the 8th, while holding Los Tigres to just 4 hits and one run.� C Hector Gimenez and DH Raul Chavez were both hitless for Aragua, whose lone run came in the 3rd inning on a single and a double.� Los Navegantes began the 6th with a single and a sacrifice bunt, the SS Argenis Diaz worked a walk.� A wild pitch and a double brought in the first two runs, including Diaz.� Former Pirate LF Mike Ryan singled, plating another run, and he scored on the second double of the inning.

MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE —

Venados de Mazatlan� 3,� Aguilas de Mexicali� 0 — Mazatlan did all their damage in the 5th inning.� They began the inning by loading the bases on a single by 2B Freddy Sandoval, a walk to RF Rogelios Noris, and a hit batter SS Elliot Johnson.� A wild pitch scored Sandoval and moved Noris and Johnson up one base.� A double scored Noris, and an RBI ground out brought in Johnson.� That was all Los Venados needed.� Noris singled in the top of the 9th, but did not score.� Mexicali was held to just 4 hits in the shutout.

Yaquis de Obregon� 5,� Naranjeros de Hermosillo� 3� — CF Jeff Salazar continued his hot hitting, with a single and a double for Obregon.� He opened the game with a single, moved to second on a wild pitch and to third on a passed ball, then scored on a sacrifice fly in Los Yaquis’ 3-run 1st inning.� Salazar’s double in the 2nd inning drove in another run for Obregon.

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Bass And Thomas Pitch Well In Venezuela

Pirates’ players and friends in action in the winter leagues on Wednesday…

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE

Tigres de Aragua� 5,� Aguilas de Zulia� 3� –� Brian Bass pitched 6 shutout innings, allowing only 2 hits for Aragua tonight.� He did not walk anyone, and he struck out 6 batters.� Bass retired the first 10 batters he faced, then with one out in the 4th, gave up a double and a single.� Thanks to some heads-up play by LF Brandon Guyer and C Raul Chavez, the runner who had singled was tagged out at second base, leaving a runner on third.� Bass got a ground out to end that inning.� He hit a batter in the 5th, but Chavez threw him out trying to steal second base, and Bass retired the side again in the 6th.

Unfortunately, Bass did not get the win.� Los Tigres were also held scoreless for the first 6 innings.� They scored one run in the top of the 7th, with Bass still the pitcher of record, on a walk, a single, a wild pitch, and an RBI ground out.� But in the bottom of the 7th, with Jeff Farnsworth taking over for Bass, Zulia scored 3 runs.� Aragua came right back in the top of the 8th.� Guyer singled, and scored from first base on DH Hector Gimenez’s double.� Gimenez went to third on a ground out, then scored on an RBI single.� A 2-run homer by CF Jamie Hoffman gave the lead and the win to Aragua.

Bravos de Margarita� 7,� Navegantes del Magallanes 3 � — Justin Thomas made the start for Margarita, though he lasted only into the 4th inning and was not eligible for the win.� Thomas gave up singles to the first two batters he faced, then got a double play and a strikeout to end the inning.� He faced only 7 batters over the next two innings, surrendering only one hit, to his Indy Indians’ teammate SS Argenis Diaz. Thomas got into trouble in the bottom of the 4th, opening the inning by allowing 3 straight singles, including one to former Pirate/Indian DH Mike Ryan, for a run.� That was the only run Los Navegantes scored until the bottom of the 9th, when a walk and another single by Diaz put runners on the corners.� Diaz moved to second base on defensive indifference, and both runners scored on another single.� It was too little too late, though.� Los Bravos scored 3 runs in the top of the 1st, on four singles, a walk to 3B Andy LaRoche, and a sacrifice fly.� Margarita scored one more run in the 5th, and LaRoche’s RBI double gave them another run in the 5th.� A single, a double, and a sacrifice fly gave Los Bravos two more insurance runs in the top of the 9th.

MEXICAN LEAGUE

Venados de Mazatlan� 8,� Aguilas de Mexicali� 3� — RF Rogelios Noris had 2 hits, a single and a double, raising his average to .273.� Noris was the only member of Los Venados’ lineup to not come to the plate in their 3-run 1st inning.�� They scored after two outs had been recorded, on a walk, a single, a hit batter, then two RBI singles.� Mexicali scored two unearned runs in the bottom of the 3rd, then one more run in the 6th.� In the top of the 5th, Mazatlan added two runs on a double, a triple, and an RBI triple by the hometown favorite Noris.� 1B Robert Saucedo added a 2-run homer in the 8th, followed by another run on a single and a double.� Noris singled in the 7th, but was out at second base on a double play.

Yaquis de Obregon� 3,� Naranjeros de Hermosillo� 0� — Former Pirate CF Jeff Salazar’s batting average dropped to .379, since he had just one hit in 4 at-bats.� He singled to lead off the game, but was left on base.� Obregon scored 2 runs in the 2nd and one more in the 3rd inning.� They held Hermosillo to just 4 hits in the shut-out.� Former Pirate C Humberto Cota went 0-for-4.

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Diaz Makes First Winter League Appearance

Looking at our Pirates’ players and friends in Tuesday’s winter league games….� the Dominican and Puerto Rican leagues begin in a few days.

Here’s an article on MILB about Indy Indians’ All-Star Catcher Erik Kratz.

VENEZUELAN LEAGUES

Aguilas de Zulia� 5,� Tigres de Aragua� 4 — Los Tigres had a 4-1 lead after 4 innings, but Los Aguilas got 2 runs back in the 6th and another in the 7th to tie the game.� Then with two outs in the bottom of the 9th, a single and a stolen base put the winning run on second base.� After an intentional walk, DH Tony Alvarez lined a single to right, scoring the runner from second base.� Hector Gimenez, behind the plate tonight, had the first of two walks to lead off the 3-run 2nd inning, then scored on 1B Ramon Castro’s 3-run homer.� DH Raul Chavez doubled in the 6th, but was left on base.

Navegantes del Magallanes� 7,� Cardinales de Lara� 6� — Magallanes also broke a tie with a run in the bottom of the last inning.�� In this case it was the 10th, and Argenis Diaz scored the winning run in his first appearance for Magallanes.� Diaz entered the game as a defensive replacement at shortstop in the top of the 7th, and of course the first batter of the inning grounded right to him (easy out).� He lined out to right field in the 7th inning.� With the score still tied at 6-6, Jean Machi pitched a scoreless top of the 9th, and Los Navegantes went down in order in the bottom of the frame.� Machi returned the favor, with three straight ground outs in the top of the 10th.� Then in the bottom of the 10th, with one out, Diaz singled into center field.� Another single pushed Diaz to second base, and LF Johermyn Chavez singled into left field, and the speedy Diaz raced around from second base to score the winning run.� Machi earned the win, his first of the winter season.� DH Mike Ryan went 0-for-4 at the plate (unusual for him, with his .357 average), and walked and scored in Magallanes’ 5-run 6th inning.

Caribes de Anzoategui� 6,� Leones de Caracas� 0� — Los Leones managed 8 hits, but could not get any runs across the plate.� C Carlos Maldonado had two of those hits, a single and a double.� Los Caribes scored 3 runs on 2 homers in the 1st inning, then two more runs in the 3rd inning.� Former Pirate farmhand Ronald Uviedo came on in relief for Caracas in the bottom of the 7th, when he got two outs to end the inning.� Then he gave up the final Caribes’ run in the bottom of the 8th, on two singles and a double.

MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE

Naranjeros de Hermosillo� 12,� Yaquis de Obregon� 8� — Former Pirate CF Jeff Salazar went 3-for-4 with a walk and an RBI in Obregon’s losing effort.� Another former Pirate, C Humberto Cota, singled and homered — a 3-run homer in the 5-run 6th inning.

Venados de Mazatlan� 7,� Aguilas de Mexicali� 6� — Mazatlan took the lead with 4 runs in the 3rd inning, then kept ahead of Mexicali with another run in the 5th and two more in the 7th.� RF Rogelios Noris went 0-for-4 for Los Venados.

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Fall and Winter League Rosters

The Arizona Fall League begins play today, with seven Pirates’ farmhands on the roster for the Mesa Solar Sox.� Players from the Los Angeles Angels, the Philadelphia Phillies, the Chicago Cubs, and the New York Mets will round out the Solar Sox’ roster. � Pitchers Brian Leach, Aaron Pribanic, and Justin Wilson are all participating, and all are expected to pitch in relief, as other pitchers have the priority for starting roles.� Team USA’s Justin De Fratus (Phillies) is also on the roster, so he must be planning to join the Solar Sox later in the week after the Pan Am tournament wraps up.

Behind the plate, look for C Tony Sanchez, who is trying to make up time after missing much of the regular season due to a fractured jaw.� Sanchez has also been asked by MLB to keep a blog of his experiences in the Arizona Fall League.� (He hasn’t started it yet — stay tuned.)� Phillies’ pitcher Josh Zeid and Angels pitcher Ryan Brasier, both slated as starters for the Solar Sox, have also been asked to write blogs.

Altoona infielders Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer will be sharing some infield time with six other infielders, including Josh Vitters of the Cubs.� Their Curve teammate Andrew Lambo will be sharing outfield duties with four other outfielders, including Phillies’ John Mayberry.

Mexican Pacific League

Los Venados de Mazatlan is the hometown team of OF Rogelios Noris. He got in a little playing time last year as a rookie, and was a bit of a surprise, with some home runs and some very good pinch-hit appearances. The 21-year-old hit .236 with the West Virginia Power during the 2010 season.

Also listed on one Mazatlan roster (but not all) is LHP Jovany Lopez. Lopez is a 19 year old from Los Mochis, who has spent two seasons with the Pirates Venezuelan Summer League team.� This season, he made 18 relief appearances (27.2 innings) and had a 5-0 record with a 3.90 ERA.� He gave up 30 hits and 12 earned runs, but allowed only 5 walks and struck out 21.

Three former Pirates are also playing in the Mexican Pacific League:� Inf/Of Yurendell de Caster is with Los Algodoneros de Guasave, C Humberto Cota is on the roster of Los Naranjeros de Hermosillo, and OF Jeff Salazar will be in center field for Los Yaquis de Obregon.

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The Confusing Case of Matt Walbeck

The confusing case of Matt Walbeck, the Eastern League Manager of the Year, now jobless since the Pirates have declined to renew his contract….� I have no direct knowledge, not being in or around Altoona.

From Corey Giger of the Altoona Mirror:� “It’s simple and complicated”,�� and� it’s going to give Walbeck the opportunity to find a AAA position elsewhere.�� And, “it was a communication issue”, and maybe even a personality issue, with some players really liking Walbeck, and others not liking him at all.

From Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:� “not following the prescribed development programs and a lack of communication”.

There are two sides to every story — and there may even be more than two in this instance.� It does seem like there’s more to this than we’re going to hear about.

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Brad Lincoln needed 15 pitches (11 strikes) to strike out the side in the bottom of the 7th in last night’s Pirates’ game against the Marlins.� Joe Martinez pitched 2 innings in relief for Pittsburgh.� He gave up a 2-out double in the 5th, but left the runner on base.� Then he gave up another double and an RBI single in the 6th.

Brandon Moss was 1-for-19 when he entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the 8th, but he added 2 hits in the game — a slow dribbler down the third base line for an infield single to load the bases.� He came around to score in that inning, then doubled in the 9th, scoring again on Pedro Alvarez’s homer.� John Bowker played both right field and first base, and went 1-for-4, with a walk in the 8th to force in a run.� Argenis Diaz also walked to force in the next run in the inning.� Alex Presley came in to play center field in the bottom of the 7th, but he struck out in the both of his plate appearances.� Pedro Ciriaco had a pinch-hit single in the 5th inning.

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Team USA begins their first game in the Pan American Games/World Cup Qualifying Tournament tomorrow at 7:30 pm in Ponce, Puerto Rico, facing the Puerto Rican team.

The Arizona Fall League, with the Pirates’ farmhands playing with the Mesa Solar Sox, begins play in 11 days.

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