The Pirates have signed INF Josh Fields to a minor league contract. Fields is an Oklahoma native who was the White Sox’ first round draft pick in 2004. He progressed quickly through their organization, playing mostly third base, and reached the major leagues in 2006, when he played in 11 games for Chicago after spending most of the season in AAA Charlotte (.305, 19 HR, 70 RBI). For the next three seasons, Fields bounced between AAA and the majors. With Charlotte, he totalled 25 homers and 85 RBI with a .262 average in 158 games. He played in 193 games with the White Sox over those seasons, with a .231 average, 30 homers, and 99 RBI. Fields was traded to the Royals after the 2009 season, but he got in little playing time during 2010 due to hip surgery. He played in 13 games for the Royals in September, and his bat showed some promise — .309 with 3 homers and 6 RBI. The 28-year-old got in some make up for missed at-bats by playing for Los Senadores de San Juan in the Puerto Rican League during October and November. In 22 games, he hit .200 with 6 RBI, though in his last week, he went 7-for-27 (.259). Fields has been invited to the major league camp for spring training, and he will be competing for a utility spot on the major league club.
Just a little action on Monday in the winter leagues as we cheer for a few Pirates’ players and friends:
Tigres de Licey 2, Aguilas Cibaenas 0 — Los Aguilas were held to three hits and two walks — one hit and one walk in both the first and last innings, plus a single in the 8th. Starling Marte came into the game as a defensive replacement in center field for Los Aguilas, but he did not get an at-bat. Los Tigres scored one run in the 2nd, on a single, a walk, and a fielding error. They added an insurance run in the 8th, when DH Ronny Paulino led off with a single and was replaced by a pinch-runner. A sacrifice bunt and a throwing error put the runner on third base, and 1B Robinzon Diaz brought him in with a fly ball and an error. A single followed, but two runners were left on base. Tigres’ Denny Bautista pitched to 3 batters in the 8th inning and gave up a single.
Tiburones de La Guaira 5, Navegantes del Magallanes 4 — A solo homer in the bottom of the 10th inning broke a 4-4 tie, for Los Tiburones’ win. Los Navegantes plated 4 runs in the 4th, on a 2-run homer, followed by four singles and a sacrifice fly. Los Tiburones got onto the scoreboard in the 6th inning, with a run on a double and an RBI single. Jean Machi took the mound in the bottom of the 9th for Magallanes, but he was done in by three fielding errors (of the 5 errors committed by Los Magallanes). A single opened the inning, then Machi got a pop out. The first fielding error put runners on first and second, then Machi struck out the next batter. Another fielding error loaded the bases, and the third error allowed 2 runs to score. An RBI single gave Los Tiburones their third run of the inning and tied the score. Machi was relieved at that point, and a fly out ended the inning.
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:
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.
Cheering for some Pirates’ players and friends in Friday’s winter league action:
Leones del Caracas 6, Tigres de Aragua 4 — Caracas won this battle of the Big Cats. Los Leones scored first with a solo homer in the top of the 1st. Los Tigres tied it up in the 2nd inning. Two singles, including one by 1B Hector Gimenez, and a throwing error put runners on second and third bases. LF Lastings Milledge drove in the run with a ground out to third. Caracas took the lead again in the top of the 3rd, with a walk, a ground out, and an RBI single. The batter was out at second as he tried to advance on the throw to the plate: CF Jorge Cortes to C Raul Chavez to SS Ronny Cedeno, who tagged the runner out. Aragua took a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the 3rd, with a 3-run homer, after Chavez reached on a fielding error, a single, and Cedeno’s sacrifice bunt. But Los Leones came right back with their own homer for 2 runs in the top of the 4th, then took the lead with another run on two singles. They added an insurance run in the top of the 9th, on two singles and a throwing error. Los Tigres did not score again, though Milledge singled in the 4th, Cedeno singled in the 5th, and Cortes singled in the 7th.
PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Gigantes de Carolina 8, Criollos de Caguas 3 — Los Criollos managed only 5 hits, and two of those were by SS Luis Figueroa. Figueroa singled in the 3rd, and along with two more singles and two walks, Los Criollos scored 2 runs. Figueroa also reached on an error in the 4th, and that allowed Los Criollos’ remaining run to score. He also singled in the 9th. 3B Ramon Vazquez went 0-for-4 for Caguas. Los Gigantes scored 2 runs in the 2nd and 4th innings, then added 4 runs in the 7th inning.
Aguilas Cibaenas 10, Tigres del Licey 3 — Los Tigres posted 10 hits but left 11 runners on base, scoring only 3 times. Licey scored a run in the 3rd on two singles and a sacrifice fly. LF Jake Fox and two others singled in the 7th, and one run scored when C Robinzon Diaz bounced into a double play. A single and a double gave Los Tigres their last run in the 8th. Diaz singled for Los Tigres in the 2nd inning, but DH Ronny Paulino (who just signed a contract with the Mets) went 0-for-3 with a walk. Los Aguilas put up their first run in the 4th, tying the game on two singles, a walk, and a wild pitch. Then they put the game out of reach with 4 runs in the 6th and 3 runs in the 7th. Denny Bautista came on to pitch for Licey in the 7th, and he gave up a walk and a 2-RBI double. Starling Marte scored one of those runs, since he had just come in to pinch-run. Marte remained in the game to play right field. He batted again in the 9th, and reached base on a fielding error, though was out on a force play at second. A walk and a single brought in two more Aguilas’ runs in the 9th. LF Kevin Melillo went 0-for-3 for Los Aguilas.
The MLB Winter Meetings are over…. back to the winter league action, as we cheer on some new Pirates’ players.
Leones del Escogido 3, Tigres del Licey 0 — New Pirate Caesar Valdez (just acquired from the Diamondbacks as the player-to-be-named-later in the Zach Duke trade) made his 8th start for Licey, but did not get out of the 3rd inning as he suffered his 2nd loss of the season. Valdez had no trouble in his first inning of work, then gave up a solo home run in the 2nd inning. He put out the first two batters in the 3rd inning, then gave up three consecutive singles for a run, plus a walk. Valdez was relieved at that point, with no more runs scoring in the inning. Los Leones did score one more run in the 5th. Los Tigres were held to just 4 hits, including one by Indy area native 1B Jake Fox. 3B Andy Marte and C Robinzon Diaz were both hitless in the game.
Bravos de Margarita 5, Cardenales de Lara 4 — Los Cardenales tied the score at 4-4 in the top of the 8th on a pair of doubles. The winning run scored in the bottom of the 9th, when two walks and a hit batter put three Bravos on base. Another walk forced in the winning run. Romulo Sanchez pitched to 4 Margarita batters and made 4 outs, finishing the 6th inning for Lara and then pitching a 1-2-3 inning in the 7th. Jhonathan Ramos pitched a scoreless 6th inning for Margarita. He allowed a double and a walk, with 2 strikeouts.
Tigres de Aragua 6, Navegantes de Magallanes 4 — A game full of Pirates. Los Tigres posted a pair of 2-run homers in the 5th inning, on their way to 13 total hits. Every member of the lineup except for C Raul Chavez had at least one hit. SS Ronny Cedeno, 1B Hector Gimenez, LF Lastings Milledge, and CF Jorge Cortes each had one run. Wil Ledezma pitched one inning for Los Tigres. He entered the game in the 7th inning, and was responsible for one run on a solo homer. Then he began the 8th inning, when he allowed two more runs to score. Corey Hamman pitched in the top of the 9th for Los Navegantes. He gave up a single and a pair of intentional walks, but ended the inning and the game without any of those runners scoring.
Tiburones de La Guaira 5, Caribes de Anzoategui 3 — In his second Venezuelan League game, LF Jose Tabata walked and singled for Los Caribes. He singled in the bottom of the 1st, moving another runner to third base, and that runner came around to score, for 2 runs in the 1st. Los Tiburones tied the score with 2 runs in the 3rd inning. They took the lead with a run in the 6th, and Los Caribes tied the score again in the bottom of the 7th, on a walk and two singles. The game went into extras, and in the top of the 10th, Los Tiburones scored the winning and insurance runs on a 2-run homer.
MLB’s winter meetings begin tomorrow (Monday). Stay tuned for news of trades, moves, shifts, Rule 5 draft, etc.
A few of Sunday’s winter league games with Pirates’ players and friends participating:
Cardenales de Lara 3, Bravos de Margarita 1 — Anthony Claggett pitched 4 innings in his start for Los Bravos, and allowed one unearned run on a hit and a walk in the night-cap of a double-header. The run came in the bottom of the 1st, when a single and a throwing error at third base put the lead-off runner on second base. A sacrifice bunt and an RBI ground out brought in the unearned run. After a walk, Claggett retired 10 of the 11 remaining batters he faced — he hit one batter with a pitch. Los Bravos scored their run in the top of the 1st, on a double, a bunt, and a sacrifice fly. Claggett left the game with the score tied. He was relieved by Edgar Martinez, who began the bottom of the 5th by allowing a walk, a sacrifice bunt, and a 2-run homer, which gave Lara the win.
Aguilas de Zulia 6, Tigres de Aragua 1 — SS Ronny Cedeno and CF Lastings Milledge each had a single in the 8th inning, and Milledge also walked in the 4th, but neither came around to score in Los Tigres’ loss. Aragua’s only run was scored in the top of the 9th, on a triple and an RBI single. Zulia scored their 6 runs on 13 hits, scattered over 5 of their 8 at-bats. C Raul Chavez, C Miguel Perez, and pinch-hitter Jorge Cortes were all hitless for Los Tigres.
Leones del Caracas 8, Navegantes del Magallanes 4 — Corey Hamman pitched a scoreless inning for Los Navegantes in their loss. Caracas had already scored 2 runs in each of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th innings, and Los Navegantes had scored a pair of runs on a 2-run homer in the 4th and one more run in the 7th on a double, a single, and an RBI ground out. The first batter in the top of the 8th was hit by a pitch, and Hamman entered the game with that runner on first base. He gave up a walk but retired three batters to get out of the inning without allowing a run to score. Los Navegantes scored one more run in the bottom of the 9th on a hit batter and two singles, but it wasn’t enough.