Almost-Last-Minute Roster Adjustments

The Pirates announced two roster moves this afternoon:
RHP Mike Crotta had been not-entirely-officially told that he’d make the major league team.  Now it’s official:  Crotta and reliever Garrett Olson are on the Pirates’ Opening Day roster. 
That means that reliever Chris Leroux will be assigned to Indianapolis.  Olson, a lefty, will be the only lefty in the bullpen, at least until Scott Olsen is healthy again.  Olson also pitched more effectively in last night’s pre-season game against the Phillies.  It was not a good night for Leroux to surrender runs.  

Also, the Pirates have traded INF Jim Negrych to the Marlins, in exchange for minor league catcher Carlos Paulino.  Negrych had asked to be traded if he was not going to be assigned to AAA Indianapolis.  
 
Paulino is a 21-year-old Dominican native, who made his US debut with the Marlins’ GCL team in 2008.  He moved up to the short-season A Jamestown team in 2009, and hit well there, though without much power:  .291 average, 11 doubles, one triple, one homer, and 14 RBI in 42 games.  In 2010, Paulino caught 60 games for A level Greensboro, but did not hit well, and still showed no power:  .184 with 10 doubles and 10 RBI.  He made 9 errors and 2 passed balls, and he threw out 33 of 81 batters trying to steal.  He was moved up to A+ Jupiter for 3 games, where he hit an RBI double in 8 at-bats.  Paulino’s small size makes it easy to see why he doesn’t have a lot of power.  He appears to have been the back-up catcher for his team in the past two seasons, and he’s likely to do that again for the Pirates.  The Pirates have a lot of catchers already vying for a spot on the West Virginia and Bradenton teams, so it’s not clear where Paulino will be assigned.  

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Crotta Gives Up A Run, More Reassignments

Yankees  4,  Pirates  2
Reliever Mike Crotta, who had not given up a run up ’til today, surrendered his first spring training run this afternoon in Tampa.  Crotta came on to pitch the final inning, with the Yankees already ahead 3-2.  He gave up a single, a sacrifice bunt, and another single, for the Yankees’ final run of the game.  Crotta is still in the running for a bullpen spot with the Pirates.  
The Yankees got onto the scoreboard first, with a 2-run homer by Alex Rodriguez in the bottom of the 1st inning off starter Kevin Correia.  Correia sailed through the next two innings, then gave up another run in the 4th on a walk and two singles.  He gave up only one more hit in the next two innings, finishing his afternoon with 6 innings, 5 hits, 3 runs, 2 walks, and 5 strikeouts.  Jose Veras pitched a scoreless 7th inning. 
The Pirates scored one run in the 2nd inning, when 3B Pedro Alvarez led off with a walk and C Jason Jaramillo doubled him in.  LF Jose Tabata smacked a triple in the 5th inning, and scored on 2B Neil Walker’s sacrifice fly, for the Pirates’ second run.  The Pirates posted 10 hits in the game, but did not score again  – 8 runners were left on base.  Manager Clint Hurdle indicated that today’s lineup is what he expects to be his regular starting lineup, and today most of those position players were in for the entire game.  SS Ronny Cedeno came out of the game in a double-switch in the bottom of the 8th, and Josh Rodriguez entered the game.  Rodriguez lined a single in the top of the 9th, but was left on base.  

The Pirates have two more games in Florida (at McKechnie Field against the Rays on Sunday, and in Ft. Myers against the Twins on Monday.  Then they will play two games in Philadelphia on Tuesday and Wednesday, before heading to Chicago to begin the regular season next Friday.  

The Pirates reassigned four more players to minor league camp this morning:  P Brian Burres,  C Dusty Brown, INF Andy Marte, and INF Corey Wimberly.   Moving Marte to minor league camp is encouraging for Steve Pearce, who is now nearly assured a bench spot on the major league team.  

S/W-B Yankees  6,  Indy Indians  5
The Indians faced New York Yankees’ pitcher CC Sabathia this afternoon in a AAA spring training game against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees in Tampa this afternoon.  They hit 5 singles off Sabathia in three innings, but could not bring any of those base runners around to score.  James McDonald came from the Pirates’ big league camp to make a start for the Indians.  He gave up one run on 4 hits in his 3 innings.  The Indians scored a run in the 6th inning on Alex Presley’s sacrifice fly.  Josh Fields, who went 2-for-3 in the game, doubled in a run in the 7th, then Jim Negrych followed with a 2-run homer.  The Indians were leading 5-2 going into the bottom of the 8th.  The Yankees tied the score in the bottom of the frame with 3 runs on a pair of doubles.  Then in the bottom of the 9th, the Yankees scored with a 2-out single to take the win.

Sketchy reports from two other games:
On Thursday, the Indians lost to the Las Vegas 51′s by a score of 5-3, despite home runs by Chase d’Arnaud and Alex Presley.
On Friday, the Indians and the S/W-B Yankees played to a 1-1 tie.  Rudy Owens pitched 4 innings for the Indians, and struck out 6 batters.  

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Three Hits For Cedeno With Indy; Olson Debuts For Pirates

Iron Pigs  6,  Indians  5

The Indianapolis Indians ended their 4-game spring training winning streak with a loss today to the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.  Pirates’ Ronny Cedeno came to minor league camp to DH in the game and posted 3 hits for the Tribe.  OF Andrew Lambo singled and tripled for the Indians, and his triple in the 4th inning brought in one run.  The score was tied at 4-4 going into the top of the 9th, with reliever Tom Boleska on the mound for the Indians.  He gave up 3 hits, including an RBI single by former Pirate Brandon Moss, plus a sacrifice fly, to give the Iron Pigs a 6-4 lead.  The Indians got within one run when INF Jim Negrych got on and was brought across the plate by INF Josh Harrison’s RBI single.  Lambo’s single loaded the bases with one out.  But a double play ended the inning and the game with the Indians unable to catch up.  

Twins  4,  Pirates  1

Newest Pirate LHP Garrett Olson made his debut with his new team this afternoon, as the Pirates lost to the Twins in Bradenton.  Olson came on in relief to pitch the 8th inning, and retired the side in order with a pop out, a fly out, and a ground out.  
Paul Maholm made the start for the Pirates.  He pitched 6 innings and gave up 9 hits and 2 walks, but allowed only 2 runs.  With two outs in the 3rd, Maholm gave up a single, then made a throwing error on a pick-off attempt, which put the runner into scoring position.  A single by C Joe Mauer brought in the run.  The second run scored in the 5th, when a double, a single, and a walk loaded the bases.  A grounder to short started a double play, but the runner from third still scored.  
Jose Veras pitched a scoreless 7th inning for the Indians, allowing just a double.  Anthony Claggett took the 9th, and he gave up the remaining two Twins’ runs.  A walk and a single put runners on the corners, then a ground out plated the first run.  A fielding error by SS Pedro Ciriaco allowed the runner from second base to come around and score.   
The Pirates’ only run scored in the 2nd inning, and was unearned.  A fielding error on a force attempt gave the Pirates runners on first and second.  C Jason Jaramillo lined a single into center field for the RBI, as RF Matt Diaz scored from second base.  
The Pirates had just 6 hits in the game, including one by LF Steve Pearce.  That gives Pearce 9 hits over his last 9 games (9-for-19,  .474), and a .308 average overall.  LF John Bowker and C Dusty Brown also singled.   CF Corey Wimberly, 2B Shelby Ford, 1B Josh Fields, pinch-hitter Starling Marte, and 3B Andy Marte all got into the game.  

The Pirates have a day off on Tuesday. 

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2011 Prospect Watching: Holt, Ford, Negrych

The minor league spring training games began today, with the Indy Indians facing off against the Las Vegas 51′s in Dunedin.  Info about the minor league games tends to be sketchy at best, and often non-existent, but this evening we got some info:
51′s  5,  Indians  2  –   Rudy Owens got the start in the Indians’ first game.  He pitched 3 innings and allowed 2 runs on 6 hits, no walks, with 3 strikeouts.  The runs came in the 3rd, with former Indy Indian (2005-06) Craig Stansberry contributing to the rally.  The Indians scored one of their runs in the top of the 1st, on three consecutive hits by CF Gorkys Hernandez, SS Chase d’Arnaud, and 1B Matt Hague (RBI).  Stansberry picked up another RBI in Las Vegas’ 3-run 7th inning.  

Meanwhile, back to the middle infielders:

Brock Holt —  Bats L / Throws R;  5′ 10″,  165 lbsHolt was the Pirates’ 9th round pick in the 2009 draft.  He can play both second base and shortstop, and did both at State College in 2009, though more at short.  He also hit well for the Spikes, with a .299 average, 6 homers, and 33 RBI in 66 games.  The Pirates thought well enough of him to have him begin 2010 at A+ Bradenton (skipping A level West Virginia).  It was a good move, at least offensively, as Holt got off to a roaring start — he hit .383 in April, .310 in May, and was 9-for-18 in June.  His defense was a little shaky.  Holt made 14 errors in 47 games at shortstop.  Then in early June, Holt collided with teammate Adenson Chourio during a game and tore the median collateral ligament in his knee.  It was a “compound” tear, so it took longer than the average time to heal, and Holt missed the entire rest of the season.  He has said that his rehab time went well, and he was ready to go when spring training began.  Holt could begin the 2011 season back with Bradenton if the Pirates feel he needs more work on defense at that level, but his hitting in 2010 seems to indicate that he’d be ready for AA Altoona.  The 23-year-old Holt has said that he’s equally comfortable at second base and shortstop and that he has no particular preference for either one.

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Durham And Atkins Both Homer For Pirates

The Pirates played two split-squad spring training games this afternoon (Monday):

Orioles  6,  Pirates  4
The Pirates were held to 5 hits at McKechnie field this afternoon, but one of the big ones was a 2-run homer over the left field wall in the bottom of the 9th by RF Miles Durham, who was up from minor league camp.  1B Lyle Overbay also singled for the Pirates, scoring the first Pirates’ run of the game in the 5th.  3B Pedro Alvarez knocked in the remaining run for the Pirates, in the 6th inning.  LF Jose Tabata led off the inning with a single, stole second base, then scored on Alvarez’s single    Alvarez also doubled for the Pirates.

LF John Bowker, SS Brian Friday, CF Mel Rojas, 3B Andy Marte,  1B Steve Pearce, 2B Chase d’Arnaud, 2B Jim Negrych, and C Wyatt Toregas all got into the game for the Pirates.   

Paul Maholm took the loss for the Pirates.  He gave up a run in the 1st inning on a double and a single, then another on a solo homer in the 2nd.  Jeff Locke allowed a run on two hits in the 6th.  He allowed a single and a walk, then with two outs, an RBI single brought in a run.   Justin Wilson got the first out, then walked the next three batters to load the bases in the 8th.  A double and a sacrifice fly drove in all three of the base runners.  Jeff Karstens pitched 2 scoreless innings, then Tyler Yates, and Mike Crotta each pitched a scoreless frame.   Cesar Valdez finished up the 8th for Karstens, then pitched a scoreless 9th, facing only 4 batters.

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