Uviedo Wins, Gimenez Homers

Not many winter league playoff games today, but a few player moves:
LHP Wil Ledezma had been DFA’ed right before Christmas, and yesterday he was claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays.
Both INF Delwyn Young and RHP Brian Bass signed minor league contracts with the Phillies today.  
Earlier in the week, RHP Joe Martinez, who had also been DFA’ed by the Pirates shortly before Christmas, was traded to the Blue Jays for cash considerations.

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
Leones del Caracas  11,  Bravos de Margarita  3  –  
Los Leones posted 14 hits, which was enough to make up for their 3 errors.  Three singles and a Bravos’ fielding error gave Los Leones their first 3 runs in the 2nd inning.  In the third, the first six Caracas batters reached base — a double, two singles, and three walks (including a walk by LF Mike Ryan) — then a sacrifice fly and another single gave Los Leones 5 runs.  A 3-run homer in the 8th capped their scoring.  Margarita scored one run in the 6th, with the help of one of those errors.  An error by Ryan in left field, plus a walk and two singles (one by C JR House) brought in two more runs in the 9th.  Ronald Uviedo earned the win for Caracas, going 6 innings and allowing only the unearned run in the 6th inning, on 3 hits and a walk, with 5 strikeouts.  

Caribes de Anzoategui  5,  Tigres de Aragua  4  –  New Blue Jay Wil Ledezma came into the game for Los Tigres in the 6th inning with one run in and runners on the corners.  Ledezma gave up a single, which broke a 4-4 tie, and eventually gave the win to Los Caribes.  Ledezma also retired the side in order in the 7th.  Los Caribes started the game with 3 runs in the bottom of the 1st, on a single, a double, an error, and a sacrifice fly.   Los Tigres scored one run in the 2nd, when 1B Hector Gimenez walked, then scored on an RBI double.  Gimenez added a 2-run homer in the 4th, and another homer in the 5th gave Aragua their 4 runs.  LF Lastings Milledge singled and stole second base in the 6th, and advanced to third base on another single, but he got no further.  C Raul Chavez went 0-for-3 for Los Tigres. 

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Personnel Shuffles; Loss For Nieve

Several moves, shuffling personnel around:

RHP Joe Martinez, who came to the Pirates from the Giants (with John Bowker) in July, was removed from the Pirates’ 40-man roster and designated for assignment.  That frees up a roster spot for newly signed starter Kevin Correia.  Martinez joined the Indy Indians after coming to the Pirate organization, and made 4 starts and 3 relief appearances for the Indians.  In 28 innings, he earned a 1-2 record and a 5.72 ERA.  Then he pitched 8.2 innings over 5 games for the Pirates, for a 3.12 ERA.  

Spring Training invitations for the big league camp were extended to pitchers Rudy Owens and Justin Wilson, both of whom pitched in Altoona in 2010.  Tyler Yates, working his way back from elbow surgery, was signed to a minor league contract and also invited to major league spring training. Infielder Jeff Clement was also invited to big league camp.   

The Pirates have announced the new managers for their minor league teams:  Dean Treanor, who was the pitching coach in Indianapolis in 2010, will now be managing the Indians.  Frank Kremblas, who has managed in Indianapolis for two years, will move into the role of minor league field/instructional coordinator.  PJ Forbes, who managed the Bradenton Marauders in 2010, will manage the Altoona Curve in 2011.  Carlos Garcia will move from coaching first base for the Pirates to managing the Marauders.  Gary Robinson is moving up from managing the State College Spikes to managing the West Virginia Power, and Dave Turgeon, former coach at Virginia Tech, will become the manager at State College.   

And, some winter league action for some Pirates’ players and friends:

PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Gigantes de Carolina  4,  Indios de Mayaguez  2  –  
For the second night in a row, Benji Gonzalez came into the game as a pinch-hitter for Los Gigantes, then remained in the game on defense.  Gonzalez flied out in the top of the 6th, then played second base for one inning, and shortstop for 3 innings.  He also grounded out in the 9th.  Los Gigantes scored one run in the 2nd, 2 in the 4th, and one more in the 5th, while a triple and a double contributed to Los Indios’ 2 runs in the 7th.

Criollos de Caguas  7,  Senadores de San Juan  2  –  Former Indy Indian SS Luis Figueroa had another big night, going 4-for-5 with 3 doubles, a homer, and 4 RBI.  Figueroa flied out in the bottom of the 1st, and that was the only time he was retired.  His ground-rule double drive in Los Criollos’ first run in the 3rd.  He doubled again (the conventional way) in the 4th, driving in 2 of that inning’s 3 runs.  Then he homered to lead off the bottom of the 6th.  He also doubled in the 8th, but was left on base.  Los Criollos scored 2 runs in the 5th, without Figueroa’s help:  three walks, including one by 3B Ramon Vazquez,  loaded the bases, then a double brought in two runs.  Vazquez also walked in the 2nd inning, but did not score.

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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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Curve Hold Their Own Against Pettitte, But Lose Game One

Trenton Thunder� 3,� Altoona Curve� 2 …���� (box)

Curve starter Rudy Owens faced off against National’s phenom pitcher Stephen Strasbourg at the beginning of the season, and held his own.� Now he winds down the season by facing off against New York Yankees’ rehabbing star Andy Pettitte — and again, Owens held his own.� Owens and Pettitte each pitched 5 innings in tonight’s first game of the Eastern League Championship Series, held in Altoona.� Owens gave up 2 runs; Pettitte gave up 2 runs.� Owens gave up 7 hits and 3 walks; Pettitte gave up 6 hits and 2 walks, and he also threw a wild pitch.� Owens struck out 7; Pettitte struck out 4.

2B Chase d’Arnaud faced Pettitte three times and must not have been very impressed.� He put the first run of the game onto the scoreboard when he led off the bottom of the 1st inning with a solo home run off Pettitte.� In the 3rd inning, d’Arnaud worked a walk, and in the 5th, he singled off Pettitte.

The Curve took d’Arnaud’s home run lead into the 3rd inning.� Rudy Owens gave up a walk and a single in the 2nd, but induced a double play to end the inning.� In the 3rd, he gave up three singles, including the RBI single that slipped past first base and down the right field line to tie the score at 1-1.

The Curve came right back in the bottom of the 3rd to take a 2-1 lead.� With one out, DH Yung Chi Chen lined a single into right field.� Pettitte’s wild pitch put Chen on second base, and when d’Arnaud walked, ball four got past the Trenton catcher for a passed ball, allowing Chen to advance to third base.� 3B Josh Harrison grounded just out of reach of the Trenton shortstop and into left field for the single that scored Chen.

Owens retired the side in order again in the 4th.� Then he gave up two doubles in the top of the 5th, and Trenton had tied up the game again, at 2-2.

The Curve threatened in the bottom of the 5th.� Chen reached base on a fielding error by the Trenton third baseman.� Back-to-back singles by d’Arnaud and Harrison — a line drive into right field by d’Arnaud and a bunt single by Harrison — loaded the bases for Altoona.� But Pettitte got SS Jordy Mercer to bounce back to the mound, where he fired the ball back to the catcher, forcing out Chen at the plate, then on to first base to complete the double play.� A strikeout ended the inning.

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Moss Takes IL RBI Title As Indians Win

Indianapolis Indians� 5,� Louisville Bats� 3 ..��� (box)

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RF Brandon Moss’s (photo) double in the top of the 7th inning gave the Indians the winning run and gave Moss his league-leading 96th RBI at Louisville Slugger Field in Louisville, Kentucky this evening.� RBI #96 secured Moss’ win of the International League’s RBI title.� The second-place slugger, Durham’s Dan Johnson, is now playing in the major leagues, and the third-place slugger, Gwinnett’s Freddie Freeman, is also in the majors. Two players are tied for fourth, Lehigh Valley’s Andy Tracy and Charlotte’s Stefan Gartrell, are both still in this league, but one of them would have to get 16 RBI tomorrow to catch up to Moss.�

Tribe LF Kevin Melillo got down to business with the first pitch of the game, which he ripped on a line drive into right field for a triple.� SS Pedro Ciriaco lined a single into center field, allowing Melillo to score easily from third base.� After a strikeout by CF Alex Presley, Moss lined a single into right field, moving Ciriaco to second base.� Another strikeout to 1B Mitch Jones, then C Erik Kratz singled up the middle, driving in Ciriaco, and the Indians had the early 2-0 lead.

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IMG_4455Chris Jakubauskas (photo) made the start for the Indians, and he was happy to take the mound with two runs in his pocket.� Jakubauskas buzzed through the first three innings, allowing only a double — to Bats’ pitcher Jeremy Horst — in the 3rd inning.� Jakubauskas began the 4th inning by giving up a single to SS Zack Cozart and a walk to Danny Dorn, but he retired the next three batters, and the two runners were left standing on base.

The Bats did get to Jakubauskas in the 5th.� Three consecutive singles opened the inning — by 3B Eric Eymann, 2B Kris Negron, and pinch-hitter Mike Costanzo.� Eymann scored on Costanzo’s grounder that just barely got past 2B Brian Friday and into right field. � CF Dave Sappelt followed with a grounder to Friday, who was able to get the force out at second base.� The speedy Sappelt beat out Pedro Ciriaco’s relay throw to first base, as Negron scored the tying run from third base.� Zack Cozart grounded to 3B Doug Bernier, who also got the force out of Sappelt at second base, but Friday’s thow to first base was not in time to get the out on Cozart.� The inning ended with a pop out by Danny Dorn.

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