Solid Inning For Ascanio, Latimore Slumping

Another minor league free agent signed: Pitcher Neal Cotts signed with the Yankees.

Looking in on some of the Pirates’ players and friends in Thursday’s winter league action.. the Dominican League has the night off, and there were some games postponed in Venezuela.

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
Leones del Caracas   9,  Aguilas de Zulia  5  –
 A 4-run 8th inning made the difference for Los Leones.  Jose Ascanio pitched a scoreless bottom of the 8th for Caracas.  He gave up a walk and a single with one out, but then got a double play to get out of the inning.  

Cardenales de Lara  3,  Tigres de Aragua  0  –  LF Lastings Milledge, 1B Hector Gimenez, and C Raul Chavez each posted a single for Los Tigres, but none could come around to score.  Both Milledge and Gimenez had their singles in the 4th, after a walk.  The lead runner tried to score from second on Milledge’s single, but Lara CF Ray Sadler’s throw to the plate was right on targer, and the runner was out at home.  Sadler went 0-for-2 and was hit by a pitch.  

PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Criollos de Caguas  2,  Indios de Mayaguez  1  (Game 1) —  
Los Indios scored a run with a lead-off triple and a single in the top of the 1st, then did not score again for the rest of the game, despite out-hitting Los Criollos 8-5.  3B Ramon Vazquez started a rally for Los Criollos with a 2-out walk in the 2nd inning.  A pair of singles brought him around to score and tie the game at 1-1.  A walk, a throwing error, and an RBI double gave Caguas the go-ahead run in the 5th.  SS Luis Figueroa was hitless in 3 trips to the plate.  

Criollos  2,  Indios 1  (Game 2)  –  Yes, same score in the night-cap.  Three Caguas pitchers combined for a one-hitter.  Los Indios scored their run in the 5th, beginning with a walk and ending with a sacrifice fly.  Los Criollos scored one run in each of the 3rd and 4th innings.  Neither Figueroa nor Vazquez got into this game.

Leones de Ponce  2,  Senadores de San Juan  1  –  Really, same score again.  RJ Rodriguez earned his 10th save of the season with a scoreless 9th inning for Ponce.  He walked the first batter, then retired the next three to end the game.

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Veal Re-signed; Hits For Brown And Hague

Southpaw Donnie Veal will likely be back in Indianapolis in 2011.  He has signed a minor league contract with the Pirates today, and has also been invited to the big league camp for Spring Training.  After struggling through his mandatory year on the Pirates’ major league roster as a Rule 5 Draft pick in 2009, Veal was assigned to the AAA Indians to begin 2010.  He made 9 starts for the Indians, with a 3-2 record and a 4.35 ERA over 49.2 innings before being shut down due to elbow issues.  Veal had Tommy John surgery in early June, and is expected to be ready to go for Spring Training.  

The signing of 1B Lyle Overbay is going to make things more difficult for the likes of Steve Pearce and Jeff Clement.  Both are working their way back from knee problems.  Pearce was granted one more option year because of his injuries last season.  

Other news of minor league contracts signed: Former Pirate Denny Bautista has signed with the Mariners.  INF Doug Bernier, who spent 2010 with the Indy Indians, signed with the Yankees.  P Vinnie Chulk signed with the A’s.  Former Pirate P Jonah Bayliss signed with the Rays.  INF/OF Jonathan Van Every signed with the Nationals.  

Cheering for Pirates’ players and friends in Wednesday’s winter league games:

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
Caribes de Anzoategui  4,  Bravos de Margarita  0  –  
Los Bravos were held to just 3 hits, along with 2 walks.  The first 13 Margarita batters went down in order before the first base runner reached on a walk.  They had 2 runners on base in both the 6th and 8th innings, but could not get them around to score.  Los Caribes scored one run in each of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th innings, then one more in the 7th.  In the 4th, LF Jose Tabata was hit by a pitch, then scored on an RBI double.  

Tigres del Aragua  3,  Cardenales de Lara  1  –  A 2-run homer in the bottom of the 11th by C Wilson Ramos broke the 1-1 tie for Los Tigres.  The homer came off Lara reliever Romulo Sanchez, who was charged with his second loss of the season.  Each team scored a run in the 2nd inning.  Los Cardenales’ rally was started with a single by former Pirate farmhand CF Ray Sadler, then another single and two walks forced in a run.  Ramos doubled to lead off the bottom of the 2nd for Los Tigres.  He scored on a single by 1B Hector Gimenez and a sacrifice fly.  Both teams missed scoring opportunities in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th innings, but there was only one base runner for either team over the next four innings — that was DH Lastings Milledge, who doubled in the 9th.  

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Milledge and Tabata Homer, Ciriaco Has 3 Hits

Cheering for Pirates’ players and friends in Tuesday’s winter league action:

VENZUELAN LEAGUE
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.  

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Dominican & Puerto Rican All-Stars; Claggett’s Third Win

The Dominican and Puerto Rican All-Star squads faced off this evening (Sunday), and a four of the Pirates’ former players and friends were involved, all on the Puerto Rican team:

Puerto Rican All-Stars  4,  Dominican All-Stars  3
The Puerto Ricans and Dominicans put runners on base in the first three innings, but couldn’t get any of them around to score.  The Puerto Ricans finally got onto the scoreboard in the bottom of the 4th.  Two singles and a ground out put two runners into scoring position.  Former Indy Indian (2007) LF Luis Matos reached base on a throwing error at short, and both runners came in to score.  A double brought in Matos to give the Puerto Ricans a 3-0 lead.  The Dominicans came right back to tie the game in the top of the 5th.  A double and a single plated one run, and a 2-run homer by 3B Victor Mercedes made it a 3-3 tie.  The Puerto Ricans scratched out another run in the bottom of the 7th.  A single, the third error by the Dominican shortstop, a ground out, and an RBI single gave the Puerto Ricans the lead.  Former Pirate farmhand RJ Rodriguez pitched the top of the 8th for the Puerto Ricans.  He struck out the first two batters of the inning, then finished it with a fly out.  Former Indy Indian (2004) SS Luis Figueroa singled for Puerto Rico in the 1st inning, but didn’t score.  Former Pirate 3B Ramon Vazquez doubled in the 2nd, and also did not score.

MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE
Aguilas de Mexicali  2,  Venados de Mazatlan  1 —  
A pair of singles around a sacrifice bunt gave Los Aguilas the first run of the game in the top of the 1st, and they repeated the trick for another run in the 6th.  Two singles and a throwing error brought in Los Venados’ only run in the 7th.  RF Rogelios Noris singled in the 8th for Los Venados but was left on base.  His fellow Pirate farmhand Matt Hague came in to play first base for Mexicali in the 8th, but did not get a plate appearance.  

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Big Night For Tabata and Cedeno; Hague Is In Mexico

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.  

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
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.  

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