The Pirates have signed INF Josh Fields to a minor league contract. Fields is an Oklahoma native who was the White Sox’ first round draft pick in 2004. He progressed quickly through their organization, playing mostly third base, and reached the major leagues in 2006, when he played in 11 games for Chicago after spending most of the season in AAA Charlotte (.305, 19 HR, 70 RBI). For the next three seasons, Fields bounced between AAA and the majors. With Charlotte, he totalled 25 homers and 85 RBI with a .262 average in 158 games. He played in 193 games with the White Sox over those seasons, with a .231 average, 30 homers, and 99 RBI. Fields was traded to the Royals after the 2009 season, but he got in little playing time during 2010 due to hip surgery. He played in 13 games for the Royals in September, and his bat showed some promise — .309 with 3 homers and 6 RBI. The 28-year-old got in some make up for missed at-bats by playing for Los Senadores de San Juan in the Puerto Rican League during October and November. In 22 games, he hit .200 with 6 RBI, though in his last week, he went 7-for-27 (.259). Fields has been invited to the major league camp for spring training, and he will be competing for a utility spot on the major league club.
Just a little action on Monday in the winter leagues as we cheer for a few Pirates’ players and friends:
Tigres de Licey 2, Aguilas Cibaenas 0 — Los Aguilas were held to three hits and two walks — one hit and one walk in both the first and last innings, plus a single in the 8th. Starling Marte came into the game as a defensive replacement in center field for Los Aguilas, but he did not get an at-bat. Los Tigres scored one run in the 2nd, on a single, a walk, and a fielding error. They added an insurance run in the 8th, when DH Ronny Paulino led off with a single and was replaced by a pinch-runner. A sacrifice bunt and a throwing error put the runner on third base, and 1B Robinzon Diaz brought him in with a fly ball and an error. A single followed, but two runners were left on base. Tigres’ Denny Bautista pitched to 3 batters in the 8th inning and gave up a single.
Tiburones de La Guaira 5, Navegantes del Magallanes 4 — A solo homer in the bottom of the 10th inning broke a 4-4 tie, for Los Tiburones’ win. Los Navegantes plated 4 runs in the 4th, on a 2-run homer, followed by four singles and a sacrifice fly. Los Tiburones got onto the scoreboard in the 6th inning, with a run on a double and an RBI single. Jean Machi took the mound in the bottom of the 9th for Magallanes, but he was done in by three fielding errors (of the 5 errors committed by Los Magallanes). A single opened the inning, then Machi got a pop out. The first fielding error put runners on first and second, then Machi struck out the next batter. Another fielding error loaded the bases, and the third error allowed 2 runs to score. An RBI single gave Los Tiburones their third run of the inning and tied the score. Machi was relieved at that point, and a fly out ended the inning.
Cheering for Pirates’ players and friends in Tuesday’s winter league action:
Tigres de Aragua 12, Tiburones de La Guaira 2 — Los Tigres posted 12 runs on 12 hits, including a 4-run 6th inning and a 6-run 7th inning. They began their scoring with a 2-run homer in the bottom of the 1st. Then LF Lastings Milledge added another 2-run homer following 1B Hector Gimenez’s walk to lead off the 6th. CF Jorge Cortes walked moments later, and a single and an intentional walk loaded the bases, and two runs came in on a double. The 7th inning rally got started with four singles (one by Cortes) and three doubles, and along with an RBI ground out by Gimenez, 6 runs crossed the plate. Los Tiburones scored one run in the 5th and one in the 9th. Milledge and Gimenez each walked once, and Cortes walked twice.
Caribes de Anzoategui 8, Bravos de Margarita 3 — DH Jose Tabata scored twice as Los Caribes scored in 4 consecutive innings. A 2-run homer scored in the 2nd. A walk by Tabata and three singles added two runs in the 3rd, and a double and a single plated one run in the 4th. Tabata led off the bottom of the 5th with a solo homer, and a single and a pair of doubles brought in two more runs in that inning.
Leones del Caracas 7, Navegantes del Magallanes 6 — This one took 11 innings, with Los Leones manufacturing the winning run in the bottom of the 11th. The lead-off batter singled, and a bunt moved him to second. A single by SS Asdrubal Cabrera nearly won the game, but the runner was tagged out at the plate. Then CF Josh Kroeger lined a single up the middle, and this time the throw to the plate was not in time. LF Mike Ryan led off the 4th inning with a triple for Los Navegantes, and he scored on a sacrifice fly. Corey Hamman pitched to one batter (Kroeger) in the 7th and got a fly out, but his wild pitch allowed Cabrera to score from third base to tie the score at 5-5. Each team scored a run in the 9th. Jose Ascanio pitched the top of the 9th for Los Leones, and he gave up a run on a double, a sacrifice bunt, and a sacrifice fly, giving Caracas the lead again. Jean Machi pitched 2 innings of relief. He gave up the homer to Kroeger in the bottom of the 9th, which sent the game in to extras with a 6-6 tie, then retired the side in order in the 10th.
Looking in on Pirates’ players and friends in Saturday’s winter league play–
The Puerto Rican and Dominican Leagues had today off, as they prepare for their All-Star teams to face off tomorrow.
Tigres de Aragua 5, Aguilas de Zulia 0 — (Game 1) SS Ronny Cedeno tripled in Los Tigres’ first two runs, after a double and a single in the 3rd inning. In the next inning, CF Lastings Milledge reached base on an error, and a walk and a single loaded the bases. A wild pitch brought in one run, and C Raul Chavez drove in the 2nd run of that inning with a sacrifice fly. Chavez also picked up an RBI in the 6th inning with a single that followed two walks. Milledge reached on a fielding error for the second time in the 6th inning, but he was picked off first.
Tigres 9, Aguilas 2 — (Game 2) Cedeno continued hitting in the night cap, going 2-for-3. The 6-run 3rd inning took care of things for Los Tigres. A triple began the inning, and Cedeno drove in the first run with a single. Three consecutive walks (one by 1B Hector Gimenez) drove in Cedeno, then three consecutive singles added three more runs. LF Jorge Cortes and C Miguel Perez each had one of those hits. A sacrifice fly made it 6 runs in the inning. Perez began another rally in the 6th inning with a walk, and he scored on an RBI double. Cedeno singled again, and advanced to second base on a wild pitch. After a single, another wild pitch let Cedeno cross the plate with the 3rd run of the inning.
Tiburones de La Guaira 4, Leones del Caracas 3 — Two runs in the bottom of the 9th gave Los Tiburones the walk-off win. A bases-loaded single drove in both runs. A 2-run homer in the top of the 1st started the game for Los Leones. La Guaira scored one run in the bottom of the inning, then tied the game with another run in the 4th. A hit batter and a single gave Los Leones a 3-2 lead in the 5th, and that’s where the score remained until the bottom of the 9th. Jose Ascanio pitched the 8th inning for Caracas. He gave up a one-out single, then erased that runner and ended the inning with a double play. Former Pirate C Carlos Maldonado singled in the 2nd inning for Los Leones, but he was also erased with a double play.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.