Just a few notes from here and there:
Check out this story by Lee Judge of the Kansas City Star. He talks about Clint Hurdle, but it generally applies to almost any minor league system. I’m trying to picture players sleeping in the luggage racks.
The Indy Indians (and presumably the rest of the Pirates’ minor league camp) have finished their official spring training games, with the last one yesterday against the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs in Bradenton. No word on the results. The Indians usually arrive in Indianapolis on Monday or Tuesday, and have a couple of final workouts before Opening Day on Thursday.
Some former Pirates and Pirates’ farmhands are moving around:
P Romulo Sanchez was released by the Yankees, and has signed to play with the Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan.
P Ty Taubenheim was released by the Rangers.
The Diamondbacks have signed Inf Josh Wilson.
The Nationals have released OF Jonathan Van Every.
The White Sox released P Jeff Sues, but snapped up Inf Christian Colonel after the Pirates released him this week.
Inf/Of Luis Cruz was removed from the Brewers’ 40-man roster and elected to become a free agent.
P Eric Hacker signed a minor league contract with the Twins.
The Rays have released P Jonah Bayliss.
UPDATE: The Altoona Curve roster has been announced: check it out here
Note that Rudy Owens, Justin Wilson, and Tony Watson are NOT on the Altoona roster, so they should be in Indianapolis. Also, Chase d’Arnaud, Matt Hague, and Gorkys Hernandez should be in Indy.
The Venezuelan, Mexican Pacific, and Puerto Rican Leagues wrap up their regular season play today. Everyone is off for New Year’s Eve, and playoff games begin soon after. A few of the Pirates’ players and friends in tonight’s action:
Caribes de Anzoategui 2, Navegantes del Magallanes 1 — C JR House had the second of three consecutive singles to lead off the top of the 7th for Los Navegantes, when they scored their only run of the game. That run tied the game at 1-1, after Los Caribes had scored one run in the 5th on a fielding error and a double. But Los Caribes broke the tie in the bottom of the 7th with a pair of doubles, and took the win.
Aguilas de Zulia 8, Cardenales de Lara 7 — Los Aguilas posted 16 hits and piled up their runs in the middle innings, and were leading 8-1 going into the top of the 9th. Romulo Sanchez pitched the top of the 9th for Lara, and retired the side in order. Then in the bottom of the inning. Los Cardenales rallied with three singles, two doubles, and a 2-run homer, scoring 6 runs. But with two runners still on base, a fly out ended the game, and Los Cardenales fell one run short of catching up.
DOMINICAN LEAGUE (Round Robin Playoff Series)
Toros del Este 2, Leones del Escogido 1 — A pitching duel, with each team posting only 5 hits. Los Toros scored 2 runs in the 4th on two consecutive fielding errors, a single, a walk to force in one run, and an RBI ground out. Two singles and a ground out gave Los Leones their only run in the top of the 9th. SS Pedro Ciriaco went 0-for-3, plus he reached on a fielding error in the 3rd and stole second base.
Estrellas de Oriente 9, Gigantes del Cibao 0 — DH Ronny Paulino was Los Estrellas’ heavy hitter for the second night in a row. He went 3-for-3, walked, scored twice, and drove in a run. He singled to lead off the 2nd inning, though did not score. He singled again to lead off the 4th, moved to third on a double, and scored on a sacrifice fly. Another run came in on two more singles and a walk. Paulino singled for the third time in the 5th inning, but was left on base. Los Estrellas rallied for 6 runs in the 6th inning. A walk, a single, and a hit batter loaded the bases, then Paulino picked up his RBI when he walked to force in a run. A single and a wild pitch each brought in a run. A ground out scored Paulino, and one more single drove in 2 runs. A solo homer gave Los Estrellas their final run in the 7th. Los Gigantes were held to just 6 hits, and two of those were by RF Rich Thompson. He singled to open the 5th, but was out at second on a force play. Thompson doubled in the 7th inning, and was left on base.
The Dominican League has finished regular season play. The four top teams — Estrellas de Oriente, Leones del Escogido, Toros del Este, and Gigantes del Cibao — will begin a round robin playoff tournament on Sunday. Los Estrellas, Los Leones, and Los Toros all finished the regular season with identical 27-22 records, in a 3-way tie for first place. In the Dominican League, the four top teams are allowed to “draft” players from the other two teams to help them out during the playoffs. Los Estrellas drafted C Ronny Paulino from Los Tigres del Licey. Los Leones drafted Indy area native 1B/OF Jake Fox from Los Tigres. Los Gigantes drafted OF Kevin Melillo from Los Aguilas Cibaenas.
The Venezuelan and Puerto Rican Leagues have both Friday and Saturday off, and resume play on Sunday. The Mexican Pacific League has Friday off, but has a full slate of games scheduled for Christmas evening.
And, a few other minor league contracts signed by former Pirate farmhands: C Michel Hernandez re-signed with the Orioles, INF Ray Chang signed with the Twins, and P Derek Hankins signed with the Rangers.
OK, on to Thursday night’s action for the Pirates’ players and friends:
PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Gigantes del Carolina 5, Indios de Mayaguez 4 — Los Gigantes scored 2 runs in the 1st and 4th innings, and a single run in the 3rd, then held off late-inning pushes by Los Indios to get the win. 2B Benji Gonzalez signled in the 2nd inning, but was picked off first base.
Criollos de Caguas 6, Senadores de San Juan 3 — Two walks, a single, a sacrifice fly, and a 2-run triple gave San Juan a 3-run lead in the bottom of the 1st inning, but that was all the scoring they would do. Los Criollos started their come-back in the 3rd inning, with a walk, a single, and a 2-RBI double by 3B Ramon Vazquez. A hit batter and a double plated a single run in the 4th, then two errors and an RBI single by Vazquez brought in another run in the 5th. A 2-run homer added their final runs in the 8th.
Shortstop signings: Former Pirate Brian Bixler has signed a minor league contract with the Nationals, and will likely be back to face the Indy Indians as a member of the Syracuse Chiefs. Former Pirate Argenis Diaz, who was not offered a contract by the Pirates after this season, has signed a minor league contract with the Tigers. We will likely see him again as a member of the Toledo Mudhens.
Cheering for Pirates’ players and friends in Tuesday’s winter league action:
DOMINICAN LEAGUE — Final regular season games
Leones del Escogido 6, Toros del Este 2 — Los Leones’ 4-run 6th inning gave them plenty of offense. Los Toros were held to just 4 hits, with only one hit over the first 6 innings. They scored one run in the 7th on a triple and a sacrifice fly, and one in the 9th on a single, a double, and an RBI ground out. SS Pedro Ciriaco struck out in all three of his at-bats and also committed a fielding error which led to a run in the 4th.
PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Gigantes de Carolina 5, Senadores de San Juan 4 — Benji Gonzalez got into a game for Los Gigantes for the first time in over a month. He entered the game in the top of the 8th to pinch-run after a double. A fly out moved him to third base, but he was left there when the inning ended. Then Gonzalez remained in the game to play second base, where he made 2 plays. Los Senadores scored 3 runs in the 1st inning, an were leading 4-3 going into the 9th. A 2-run homer in the top of the 9th gave Los Gigantes the win.
Cardenales de Lara 6, Tiburones de La Guaira 3 — Former Indy Indian (2008) TJ Beam made his Venezuelan League debut for Los Tiburones, but it was not a happy start. He faced 4 batters and allowed 2 singles and 2 walks, with one run scoring before he was relieved. A wild pitch by his relief and a double gave Lara 4 runs in the top of the 1st. They added single runs in the 7th and 9th innings. Los Tiburones cut the early lead in half with 2 runs in the 3rd. Then in the bottom of the 8th, Los Tiburones homered off Lara’s reliever Romulo Sanchez, who gave up 2 walks after the homer.
Caribes de Anzoategui 7, Tigres de Aragua 3 (Game 1) — Los Caribes scored 5 runs in their last two at-bats for the come-from-behind win. In the 5th, a single, a sacrifice bunt, a wild pitch, and a walk put Caribes on the corners. LF Jose Tabata reached base on a throwing error, which allowed the runner on third to score. A double drove in two more runs (including Tabata). The 6th inning began with a pair of walks and a triple brought those runners across the plate. Tabata also singled in the 1st inning, when Los Caribes scored one run, but he was out at third base. Los Caribes also scored a run in the 2nd. Los Tigres began the game with a 2-run homer in the top of the 1st, and they added another run on a walk and a double in the 5th. 1B Hector Gimenez singled for Aragua after the home run in the 1st. SS Ronny Cedeno and CF Jorge Cortes were both hitless in the first game of the double header.
Caribes 5, Tigres 0 (Game 2) — Cedeno, Cortes, and Gimenez were all hitless in the night-cap, as Los Tigres were held to just 3 hits. Los Caribes scored 3 runs in the 1st and 2 more in the 2nd. Tabata did not get into the game.
Lots of Pirates and former Pirates pitching in Friday’s winter league action… This is the last week of regular season play for the Dominican and Puerto Rican leagues.
Caribes de Anzoategui 8, Tiburones de La Guaira 5 — (Game 1) A 5-run 6th inning gave Los Caribes the edge in the first game of the double header. Los Caribes started the game with 3 runs in the top of the 1st, on a single, a walk by DH Jose Tabata, and a 3-run homer. The 6th inning began with a double, a hit batter, and a walk to load the bases. Two sacrifice flies, an RBI single, and a sacrifice bunt aided by a throwing error by Los Tiburones’ pitcher added four more runs. Tabata also singled in the inning. La Guaira scored 2 runs in the 4th and rallied for 3 in the bottom of the 7th, but could not catch up.
Tiburones 9, Caribes 2 — (Game 2) Ryan Vogelsong earned his 6th win for Los Tiburones. He allowed 2 runs on 5 hits and a walk over 6 innings. Tabata did not get into the night-cap.
Leones de Caracas 6, Aguilas de Zulia 2 — Another former Pirate pitcher earned the win — Ronald Uviedo also pitched 6 innings and allowed 2 runs. He gave up 8 hits and a walk. Los Leones scored one run in the 1st, two in the 2nd, and 3 in the 5th. C Carlos Maldonado singled twice and walked, and scored one run.
Bravos de Margarita 9, Cardenales de Lara — Both teams put up big innings and posted a total of 12 hits each. Lara had a 5-run 3rd inning, which began with CF Ray Sadler being hit by a pitch. Three singles and a throwing error brought in 2 runs, a sacrifice fly plated a third run, and a 2-run homer made it 5 runs. Three consecutive doubles, including one by Sadler, plus a sacrifice fly gave Los Cardenales 3 runs in the 4th. Los Bravos began their scoring with a run in the 2nd, then 3 runs in the 3rd on three singles, an error, and a wild pitch. They added 4 more in the next inning, on three singles and three walks. After the bottom of the 4th, the score was tied at 8-8. Los Bravos scored what would turn out to be the winning run in the top of the 5th, on a walk, a double, and an RBI ground out. Romulo Sanchez pitched to three batters and got three outs in the top of the 9th for Los Cardenales. Anthony Claggett took the mound for Los Bravos in the bottom of the 6th, with two on and one out. He got two outs to end the inning, then pitched the next two innings, allowing only one walk, no hits, with three strikeouts. Ronald Belisario earned his 14th save with a scoreless 9th inning for Los Bravos.
Tigres de Aragua 7, Navegantes del Magallanes 5 — New Pirate Fernando Nieve made the start for Los Navegantes and pitched 4.2 innings, allowing 4 runs on 7 hits and 3 walks. A double and an RBI single by CF Jorge Cortes gave Los Tigres their first run in the 2nd inning. Nieve gave up a 2-run homer to 1B Hector Gimenez in the 3rd inning. Gimenez got to him again in the 5th, with an RBI single that followed a lead-off double. Los Tigres scored 3 more runs after Nieve departed. Cortes walked to lead off the 6th, then scored on a bunt and an RBI single. Two runs scored in the 7th. A double, Gimenez’s third hit of the game, a wild pitch, and LF Lasting Milledge’s sacrifice fly plated the runs. Los Navegantes also scored one run in the 2nd inning, when LF Mike Ryan led off with a walk, moved to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a throwing error. Magallanes scored 3 runs in the 5th, on a pair of singles, a double, and a fielding error by Milledge. Reliever Wil Ledezma took the mound in relief for Aragua after those three runs had scored, and he worked around another error to get two outs and prevent further runs from scoring.