A few signing notes for some former Pirates. Of course the biggest news is that OF Lastings Milledge has signed a minor league deal with the White Sox. Inf/Of Alfredo Amezaga (Indy Indians 2005) signed with the Rockies for 2011. Inf Ramon Vazquez has signed with the Cardinals.
The Caribbean Series began play today with each of the for teams holding a 1-1 record.
Mexico 7, Venezuela 3 — The Venezuelans scored a single run in three consecutive innings — a pair of doubles in the 5th, a fielding error with the bases loaded in the 6th, and a single, a walk, and a sacrifice fly in the 7th. But Mexico’s 4-run 5th inning was enough to overcome all of that. Two singles and an error on a sacrifice bunt loaded the bases for the Mexicans. A double cleared the bases for 3 runs, and a single with an error by LF Jose Castillo added the fourth run. An RBI double and an RBI single gave Mexico 2 runs in the 3rd inning. Two walks and a throwing error added an unearned run to the Mexico total in the 6th.
Dominican Republic 4, Puerto Rico 3 — A 9th inning rally by the Dominicans upended Puerto Rico on their home turf. Puerto
Rico took the early lead with one run in the 3rd inning on a walk, a wild pitch, and an RBI double. Another wild pitch plus a fielding error in left field contributed to Puerto Rico’s run in the 5th inning. The Puerto Rican pitching staff made 2 wild pitches in the top of the 6th, to give Dean Treanor’s Dominican team their first run of the game. Puerto Rico kept ahead with another single run in the 7th inning, on a walk, a sacrifice bunt by SS Luis Figueroa, and an RBI single. The 9th inning began with Puerto Rico leading 3-1, but with one out, back-to-back walks and a triple drove in 2 runs for the Dominicans to tie the score. An intentional walk put runners on the corners, then a grounder to first allowed the runner from third to score the go-ahead run before the final out was made. Puerto Rico tried for a comeback with a single to lead off the 9th, but a double play got the Dominicans out of the inning with the win.
The Australian League
Adelaide Bite 4, Sydney Blue Sox 0 — The Bite got their revenge for being no-hit in Game One by shutting out the Blue Sox in the second game of the semifinal series. Starter Brandon Maurer allowed the Blue Sox only 4 hits in his 7 innings of work. He worked around runners on base in 6 of those 7 innings, and walked a batter in each of the first 5 innings, but did not let anyone come around to score. Reliever Adrian Burnside finished things up for Maurer with two perfect innings. On the offensive side, DH Quincy Latimore was responsible for 3 of the Bite’s 4 RBI. The run he did not drive in came in the 4th, on a double and a single. Latimore had the third of three singles in the 5th inning, and he drove in both of the runners on base. A single, a bunt, and a wild pitch put a runner on third for the Bite in the 7th inning, and Latimore drove that runner in with another RBI single. Latimore also reached base on an error in the 2nd inning, and made it as far as third base, but a double play ended that inning. The Bite and the Blue Sox have now each won a game in this 3-game series. The rubber match will be played on Sunday (early, of course), and the winner will face the Perth Heat in the championship series next weekend.
One quick signing note: pitcher Chris Jakubauskas, who was released by the Pirates after the 2010 season, has signed a minor league contract with the Orioles.
The Caribbean series got underway today (Wednesday) with an afternoon game. It took 15 innings, but Mexico (Los Yaquis de Obregon) beat Indy Indians’ manager Dean Treanor’s Dominican Republic team (Los Toros del Este) 4-3. The Dominicans took the lead with a run in the 3rd on two singles and a throwing error. They made it 3-0 in the 6th with the help of another error that led to two unearned runs. The Mexican team came back with 2 runs on three singles in the 7th. The Dominicans were one out away from a win in the bottom of the 9th, when the Mexicans tied the score at 3-3 with a pair of two-out singles and a stolen base. Five and a half scoreless innings followed, as the relief pitchers took over. Neither team did much during the 10th, 11th, and 12th innings. Both teams put two runners on base but couldn’t score in the 13th. The Dominicans threatened in both the top of the 14th and the top of the 15th, but could not push a runner across the plate. Finally in the bottom of the 15th, the Mexican team again came through after two outs had been recorded. Three straight singles gave them the winning run.
This evening’s game, between Venezuela (Los Caribes de Anzoategui) and Puerto Rico (Los Criollos de Caguas) is in the middle of the 5th, with Venezuela ahead 4-2.
UPDATE: VENEZUELA 5, PUERTO RICO 3 — The game began with Venezuela scoring 4 runs in the top of the 1st. The first batter of the game reached base on a throwing error. A single and a sacrifice fly plated the first run of the game. After a walk, LF Jose Castillo singled in a run, then a fielding error allowed 2 more runs to score. A double and an RBI single gave the Puerto Ricans one run in the 3rd inning. An RBI double in the 5th brought a runner all the way from first base to score Puerto Rico’s second run. The Venezuelans added one more run in the 7th, on another double/single combination. Puerto Rico also added another run in the 8th. A single, a walk, and a single by SS Luis Figueroa loaded the bases with no outs. The next batter bounced into a 3-6-3 double play, but the runner from third was able to score.
Cheering for the Pirates’ players and friends in the winter league playoff games on Saturday night…
Tigres de Aragua 5, Leones de Caracas 2 — The Big Cats had to have a one-game playoff because they finished tied for second place in the round robin tournament. Former Pirate farmhand Ronald Uviedo made the start for Los Leones, and while he made it through the first inning, Los Tigres got to him in the next three innings. DH Hector Gimenez blasted a solo homer in the 2nd inning. A walk, a sacrifice bunt by CF Jorge Cortes, and two RBI’s on a double and a single gave Aragua another 2 runs in the 3rd inning. LF Lastings Milledge started the 4th inning rally with a walk, moved to second on a ground out, and to third on a wild pitch. An RBI single plated Milledge, and sent Uviedo to the showrs. The Caracas reliever gave up a single to Cortes, then another RBI single gave Aragua their final run. Caracas scored their first run on a solo homer by LF Mike Ryan in the 2nd inning. Ryan also singled in the 7th inning, and came around to score from first base on 2B Jose Castillo’s RBI double. Castillo singled in the bottom of the 9th, and C Carlos Maldonado reached base on an error, and was replaced by a pinch-runner. With two outs, Wil Ledezma came on to make the final out, earning a save. Los Tigres will now face Los Caribes in the championship series.
Toros del Este 11, Estrellas de Oriente 2 — Los Toros posted 14 hits as they ran over Los Estrellas, who hurt their own cause with 6 errors. The scoring began with 3 runs in the top of the 1st. SS Pedro Ciriaco began a rally in the 3rd with a lead-off single. He scored on a fielding error and a single, and an RBI ground out brought in another run. A walk, a single, and another error in the 4th made the score 6-0. Los Estrellas got onto the scoreboard with a solo homer in the 6th, and scored again with two singles in the 7th. Los Toros kept going, though, scoring 2 runs in the 7th on yet another error, a walk, and a double. Ciriaco walked in the 8th, and scored on a 3-run homer. Ciriaco singled in the 6th as well. Franquelis Osoria pitched the top of the 9th for Los Estrellas, and worked around his teammates’ 6th error to keep Los Toros from scoring in that inning. Los Toros now lead the championship series 4 games to none, and need one more for the series sweep.
An update on some recent roster moves by the Pirates:
Pitcher Jose Veras took a few days, but did sign a minor league contract with the Pirates. Veras is a 30-year-old who was first signed by the Rays in 1998. He began playing in the US in 2002, and split both the 2003 and 2004 at the AA and AAA levels. He was granted free agency after 2004 and was signed by the Rangers for 2005, spending that season at the AAA level, where he made 57 relief appearances with a 3.80 ERA. Veras signed with the Yankees after that, and pitched in their organization for the next 3+ seasons. He split that time between the AAA level (2.56 ERA in 95 innings, with 115 strikeouts) and the major league club (4.50 ERA in 102 innings, with 94 strikeouts). The 2008 season was his best of those, with 60 relief appearances for the Yankees and 3.59 ERA and a 5-3 record. In 2009, the Yankees traded Veras to the Cleveland Indians, where he finished the last 3 months of the season. The Dominican native made 22 relief appearances for Cleveland with a 1-2 record and a 4.38 ERA, with 22 strikeouts. He signed with the Marlins for 2010 and began the season in AAA New Orleans. He began the season slowly, but got better in May and was tough in June: a 1.80 ERA in 10 innings (10 games) with 12 strikeouts. That earned him a promotion to the Marlins, where he finished the season with 48 relief appearances. In 48 innings, he earned a 3-3 record and a 3.75 ERA with 54 strikeouts. Veras did not play winter ball this off-season. The righty will be competing for a spot in the Pirates’ bullpen
C Wyatt Toregas has also been inked to a minor league contract. He was the Cleveland Indians’ 24th pick in the 2004 draft, and began his pro career in 2005, reaching the AAA level in 3008 and the major leagues in 2009. Toregas hit .284 for the Columbus Clippers (AAA) in 60 games in 2009, with 7 homers and 69 RBI. In 19 appearances for the Indians in that season, he hit only.176 with 6 RBI. The Virginia native was still on the Indians’ 40-man roster at the beginning of 2010, but spent the entire season in the minor leagues, possibly battling injuries. At AA Akron, he got into just 17 games, hitting .203 with one home run and 6 RBI. At AAA Columbus, he was in just 14 games and hit .200 with 2 homers and 6 RBI. He has a slim chance of sticking with the Pirates out of spring training, but will more likely be in Indianapolis to begin 2011.
In addition to Veras and Toregas, a few other minor leaguers have been invited to big league camp for spring training: catchers Tony Sanchez and Eric Fryer, infielders Chase d’Arnaud and Brian Friday, and outfielder Andrew Lambo.