A Loss For Valdez

The MLB Winter Meetings are over…. back to the winter league action, as we cheer on some new Pirates’ players.

DOMINICAN LEAGUE
Leones del Escogido  3,  Tigres del Licey  0  —  
New Pirate Caesar Valdez (just acquired from the Diamondbacks as the player-to-be-named-later in the Zach Duke trade) made his 8th start for Licey, but did not get out of the 3rd inning as he suffered his 2nd loss of the season.  Valdez had no trouble in his first inning of work, then gave up a solo home run in the 2nd inning.  He put out the first two batters in the 3rd inning, then gave up three consecutive singles for a run, plus a walk.  Valdez was relieved at that point, with no more runs scoring in the inning.  Los Leones did score one more run in the 5th.  Los Tigres were held to just 4 hits, including one by Indy area native 1B Jake Fox.  3B Andy Marte and C Robinzon Diaz were both hitless in the game.

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
Bravos de Margarita  5,  Cardenales de Lara  4  —  
Los Cardenales tied the score at 4-4 in the top of the 8th on a pair of doubles.  The winning run scored in the bottom of the 9th, when two walks and a hit batter put three Bravos on base.  Another walk forced in the winning run.  Romulo Sanchez pitched to 4 Margarita batters and made 4 outs, finishing the 6th inning for Lara and then pitching a 1-2-3 inning in the 7th.  Jhonathan Ramos pitched a scoreless 6th inning for Margarita.  He allowed a double and a walk, with 2 strikeouts. 

Tigres de Aragua  6,  Navegantes de Magallanes  4  —  A game full of Pirates.  Los Tigres posted a pair of 2-run homers in the 5th inning, on their way to 13 total hits.  Every member of the lineup except for C Raul Chavez had at least one hit.  SS Ronny Cedeno, 1B Hector Gimenez, LF Lastings Milledge, and CF Jorge Cortes each had one run.  Wil Ledezma pitched one inning for Los Tigres.  He entered the game in the 7th inning, and was responsible for one run on a solo homer.  Then he began the 8th inning, when he allowed two more runs to score.  Corey Hamman pitched in the top of the 9th for Los Navegantes.  He gave up a single and a pair of intentional walks, but ended the inning and the game without any of those runners scoring.  

Tiburones de La Guaira  5,  Caribes de Anzoategui   3  —  In his second Venezuelan League game, LF Jose Tabata walked and singled for Los Caribes.  He singled in the bottom of the 1st, moving another runner to third base, and that runner came around to score, for 2 runs in the 1st.  Los Tiburones tied the score with 2 runs in the 3rd inning.  They took the lead with a run in the 6th, and Los Caribes tied the score again in the bottom of the 7th, on a walk and two singles.  The game went into extras, and in the top of the 10th, Los Tiburones scored the winning and insurance runs on a 2-run homer.  

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Matt Diaz On Board; Ascanio And Tabata Reappear

Day Three of the Winter Meetings…the Rule 5 Draft will be tomorrow (Thursday)
Today, the Pirates added another player to their 40-man roster.  Matt Diaz is an outfielder who was drafted by the Rays in the 17th round of the 1999 draft.  He reached the major league level for the first time in 2003, but played in only 14 games for the Rays over the 2003 and 2004 seasons, and went 5-for-30 at the plate.  The Oregon native was released by the Rays in February 2005 and a few days later was claimed off waivers by the Orioles, then signed by the Royals the next day.  His 2005 season was shortened by injury, but he did hit .281 in 34 games for the Royals.  The Royals traded Diaz to the Braves after the 2005 season, and he remained in their organization for the next 5 years.  Diaz played full-time in 2006 and 2007, but a left knee injury prevented him from playing for most of the 2008 season.  He was back in full swing in 2009, when he hit .313 with 13 homers and 58 RBI for the Braves.  An infected thumb limited Diaz again in 2010.  He was able to play in 84 games for the Braves, and hit .250, with 7 homers and 31 RBI.  Diaz will turn 33 in early March.  He’s expected to play in right field for the Pirates.

Cheering for Pirates’ players and friends in Wednesday’s winter league action:
VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
Leones del Caracas  7,  Navegantes del Magallanes  0  —  Corey Hamman
had a better outing tonight than he did yesterday.  He pitched 2 innings, taking the mound with a runner on second and no outs in the 7th.  Hamman gave up a single and a sacrifice fly, to bring in one run (charged to the previous pitcher), then another single and a double play.  In the 8th, Hamman worked around a single to keep Los Leones from scoring.  Jose Ascanio pitched his first competitive inning since recovering from injury.  He gave up a double to the first batter he faced, then retired the next three batters.  Caracas’s 5-run 5th inning was all the firepower they needed.

Tiburones de La Guaira  4,  Caribes de Anzoategui  3  —  Jose Tabata made his Venezuelan debut, OK’ed by the Pirates, going 2-for-3 with an RBI and two walks.  Los Caribes scored 2 runs in the 4th and another in the 5th, to take a 3-1 lead. Tabata’s RBI single drove in the run in the 5th.   But Los Tiburones bit back with a 3-run 8th inning for the win.  

Bravos de Margarita  7,  Cardenales de Lara  3  —  A 5-run rally in the bottom of the 1st inning, including a grand slam, gave Los Bravos a lead they would not give up.  Starter Yusmeiro Petit pitched 7 innings for Los Bravos, allowing one run.  He was relieved to begin the 8th inning, by Bobby Livingston (who pitched in one game for the Indy Indians in 2009.  Livingston gave up 2 runs on two singles and a double, then was relieved by Anthony Claggett.  Claggett ended the inning with a strikeout, then retired the side in the 9th.  

Aguilas de Zulia  2,  Tigres de Aragua  1  —  SS Ronny Cedeno scored Los Tigres’ only run in the bottom of the 1st.  After a double, Cedeno reached base on a fielder’s choice, then stole second base, and scored on an RBI single.  Back-to-back home runs in the top of the 4th gave Zulia the lead in the 4th inning.  Cedeno was hitless in his other 3 plate appearances.  1B Hector Gimenez singled in the 4th, when Los Tigres loaded the bases, but did not score.  LF Lastings Milledge went 0-for-4, and C Raul Chavez went 0-for-2 for Los Tigres.  

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New Pitchers, Same Hitters

Two pitching acquisitions for the Pirates at the winter meetings, though both should remain at the major league level, with no impact on the minor league part of the organization:
RHP Kevin Correia is a 30-year old San Diego native, who came up through the Giants’ organization, but pitched for his home-town Padres for the past two seasons.  In 61 games (all but 2 were starts) for the Padres, he earned a 22-21 record and 4.54 ERA.  In 343 innings, he allowed 346 hits and walked 128 batters, while striking out 256.
LHP Scott Olsen will turn 27 next month.  The Michigan native came up in the Marlins’ organization and was traded to the Nationals at the end of 2008.  He has spent a lot of the past two seasons on the DL with left shoulder issues, so that over those two seasons he made only 28 appearances (2 in relief) for the Nats.  He has a 6-12 record and a 5.79 ERA in those games.  In 143 innings at the major league level, he allowed 176 hits and 52 walks, and struck out 95.  

Other news:
Former Pirate farmhand RHP Jimmy Barthmaier signed a minor league contract to return to the Nationals. 
Former Pirate INF Ty Wigginton is signing a contract with the Rockies.  

Just a little bit of winter league action on Tuesday, involving Pirates’ players and friends:

DOMINICAN LEAGUE
Aguilas Cibaenas  3,  Leones del Escogido  2  —  
Los Aguilas scored 2 runs in the 4th inning, and that gave them all the runs they needed.  Indy Indians’  Kevin Melillo, in his first game with Los Aguilas, started the rally with a double, then scored on a 2-run homer.  He went 1-for-3 in the game.  Starling Marte came into the game as a pinch-hitter and remained in to play center field.  Marte struck out in both of his at-bats.  

Tigres del Licey  3,  Toros del Este  0  —  Los Tigres scored all of their runs in the top of the 5th.  Indy area native LF/1B Jake Fox led off with a double, then 3B Andy Marte moved Fox to third with a sacrifice bunt.  After a walk, a double plated Fox.  Another single brought in the second run, and a sacrifice fly added the third run.  DH Ronny Paulino went 0-for-4 for Los Tigres.  SS Pedro Ciriaco singled for Los Toros in the bottom of the 8th, but was erased with a double play.  

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
Aguilas de Zulia  5,  Navegantes del Magallanes  4   —  
This game was tied at 2-2 going into the top of the 7th.  A single, a sacrifice bunt, and an intentional walk gave Los Aguilas two on and one out.  A grounder produced a force out at second base and gave Zulia runners on the corners.  Los Navegantes’ Corey Hamman was brought in to get the last out of the inning.  The only batter he faced lifted a fly ball into center field, but the ball was misplayed, and the error allowed 2 runs to score.  Hamman was relieved, and a strikeout ended the inning, with Los Aguilas ahead 4-2.  Los Navegantes tied the score again in the bottom of the 9th, on a walk, two singles, and an RBI ground out, sending the game into extra innings.  Jean Machi came in to pitch for Los Navegantes, and he gave up the go-ahead run on a walk, a sacrifice bunt, and a single.  Two walks in the bottom of the inning gave Los Navegantes one more chance to catch up, but a double play ended the inning without a run scoring. 

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Nice Start For Claggett, Key Doubles For Ciriaco and Noris

MLB’s winter meetings begin tomorrow (Monday).  Stay tuned for news of trades, moves, shifts, Rule 5 draft, etc.  
A few of Sunday’s winter league games with Pirates’ players and friends participating:

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
Cardenales de Lara  3,  Bravos de Margarita 1  —  Anthony Claggett
pitched 4 innings in his start for Los Bravos, and allowed one unearned run on a hit and a walk in the night-cap of a double-header.  The run came in the bottom of the 1st, when a single and a throwing error at third base put the lead-off runner on second base.  A sacrifice bunt and an RBI ground out brought in the unearned run.  After a walk, Claggett retired 10 of the 11 remaining batters he faced — he hit one batter with a pitch.  Los Bravos scored their run in the top of the 1st, on a double, a bunt, and a sacrifice fly.  Claggett left the game with the score tied.  He was relieved by Edgar Martinez, who began the bottom of the 5th by allowing a walk, a sacrifice bunt, and a 2-run homer, which gave Lara the win.  

Aguilas de Zulia  6,  Tigres de Aragua  1  —  SS Ronny Cedeno and CF Lastings Milledge each had a single in the 8th inning, and Milledge also walked in the 4th, but neither came around to score in Los Tigres’ loss.  Aragua’s only run was scored in the top of the 9th, on a triple and an RBI single.  Zulia scored their 6 runs on 13 hits, scattered over 5 of their 8 at-bats.  C Raul Chavez, C Miguel Perez, and pinch-hitter Jorge Cortes were all hitless for Los Tigres.  

Leones del Caracas   8,  Navegantes del Magallanes  4  —  Corey Hamman pitched a scoreless inning for Los  Navegantes in their loss.  Caracas had already scored 2 runs in each of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th innings, and Los Navegantes had scored a pair of runs on a 2-run homer in the 4th and one more run in the 7th on a double, a single, and an RBI ground out.  The first batter in the top of the 8th was hit by a pitch, and Hamman entered the game with that runner on first base.  He gave up a walk but retired three batters to get out of the inning without allowing a run to score.  Los Navegantes scored one more run in the bottom of the 9th on a hit batter and two singles, but it wasn’t enough.

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Claggett Wins Again; Singh Reappears

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:

DOMINICAN LEAGUE
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.

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
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.  

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