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:
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.
A few roster moves by the Pirates today:
Several players have been removed from the 40-man roster and outrighted to AAA Indianapolis:� LHP Justin Thomas, RHP Sean Gallagher, RHP Steven Jackson, 1B Jeff Clement, and OF Brandon Moss.
Of these, Thomas, Jackson, and Moss are now all free to declare themselves minor league free agents.� Clement does not have enough service time to get to be a free agent, so he’s “stuck” on the Indianapolis roster.� He’s had knee surgery, and hopes to be ready by spring training.� Gallagher does have the service time, but the Pirates are probably negotiating with him to try to keep him.
LHP Wil Ledezma has signed a one-year contract with the Pirates for 2011.
RHP Jose Ascanio and 1B Steve Pearce (who has also had knee issues) are officially off the DL and back on the 40-man roster.� RHP Ross Ohlendorf also falls into this category.
On to Wednesday’s winter league action, with Pirates’ players and friends:
PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Senadores de San Juan� 4,� Gigantes de Carolina� 3� — San Juan rallied from a 3-1 deficit to score one run in the 5th and 2 runs in the 6th for the win.� Los Gigantes scored one run in the 4th on a double and a single.� They added 2 runs in the 5th, on two singles, an error, a walk, and a sacrifice fly.� Benji Gonzalez made a pinch-hitting appearance for Los Gigantes in the 8th inning, but flied out.� He remained in the game at third base for the final inning.
Criollos de Caguas� 4,� Indios de Mayaguez� 0� — 3B Ramon Vazquez and SS Luis Figueroa each had one hit for Los Criollos in their win.� Vazquez’s single in the 5th drove in one of Los Criollos’ runs.� They also scored 2 runs in the 4th on two singles and two errors, and another run in the 6th on two singles and a sacrifice fly.
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.
Thursday’s action with the Pirates’ minor league affiliates….
Altoona Curve� 6,� Akron Aeros� 1 (box)
Starter Tony Watson dominated the Aeros with 6 shutout innings, allowing just 2 hits, no walks, while striking out 3 batters.� Watson retired the first 13 batters he faced, before allowing a single with one out in the 5th.� The second hit, also a single, also came in the 5th, but both runners were left on base.� After retiring the side in order, with 2 strikeouts, in the 6th, Watson was relieved by Ramon Aguero.
The Curve also went down in order in the first three innings.� With one out in the 4th, 3B Josh Harrison was hit by a pitch, then stole second and third bases.� He scored on 1B Matt Hague’s single.� SS Jordy Mercer reached on a throwing error by the Aeros pitcher.� C Hector Gimenez singled, driving in Hague.� A balk moved Mercer up to third base and Gimenez to second, then RF Miles Durham walked to load the bases.� DH Yung Chi Chen’s line drive into left field plated both Mercer and Gimenez to give the Curve a 4-0 lead.
Aguero gave up 2 singles in the 7th but kept the Aeros from scoring.� Then in the 8th, two singles were combined with a walk, to bring in a run.� Anthony Claggett pitched the 9th inning, and gave up a walk and a single, but left the runners stranded.
2B Chase d’Arnaud singled and stole second base (his 23rd of the season) in the 5th, then he doubled in the 7th.� The Curve added two runs in the 8th.� LF Andrew Lambo led off with a single and Hague walked.� Mercer dropped down a sacrifice bunt toward third base, and a throwing error by the Aeros’ third baseman allowed Lambo to score, and put Curve runners on first and third.� After two outs, Chen again brought in a run when Hague scored on his RBI single.