When the deadline for offering contracts passed last night, four new free agents were created.
The Pirates offered contracts to pitcher Jeff Karstens and SS Ronny Cedeno, both as expected. But they elected not to tender contracts to pitchers Donnie Veal and Brian Burres, SS Argenis Diaz, and OF Lastings Milledge.
Veal is still recovering from elbow surgery, and is expected to sign a minor league deal with the Pirates. Since he is going to have to spend some time in the minors when he returns anyway, this is not likely to affect his progress much. The other three are all free agents now.
Other notes: Former Pirate C Ronny Paulino was also non-tendered by the Marlins, and he also is now a free agent. Pittsburgh native INF Josh Wilson, who played for the Indy Indians in 2008, was resigned by the Mariners. (NOT Jack Wilson, who is also on the Mariners’ roster.) OF Eric Hinske was signed as a free agent by the Braves. P Zach Duke signed a contract with the Diamondbacks, avoiding arbitration.
Cheering for the Pirates’ players and friends in Thursday’s winter league action:
Toros del Este 6, Tigres del Licey 0 — Los Tigres were shut-out on 6 hits. They had 2 runners on base in a few innings, but were never able to bring them around to score. New Pirate 1B Andy Marte did not start, but came in to play at first in the 5th inning. He bounced into a double play in the 6th, and was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the 9th. DH Ronny Paulino and LF Jake Fox were both hitless, though Fox walked in the 1st inning. Denny Bautista pitched the final inning for Los Tigres, and gave up 2 runs on a single, a walk, and a double. SS Pedro Ciriaco went 0-for-3 for Los Toros.
Gigantes del Cibao 3, Estrellas de Oriente 2 — Mike Dubee earned his second Dominican League win for los Gigantes with 1.1 scoreless innings of work. Each team started with a run in the 1st inning — on a homer for Los Estrellas and on a double, a bunt, and a sacrifice fly for Los Gigantes. After the homer, Los Gigantes’ starter Roman Colon retired the next 10 batters in order. Dubee relieved Colon to begin the 5th inning. He gave up a double and a walk, but got out of the jam with a strikeout and a ground out. Dubee started the 6th inning with a fly out and a walk, then he was replaced by Juan Perez. Perez finished that inning, but gave up a run on a double and an error in the 7th. Los Gigantes’ C JR House singled to lead off the 5th, then scored on a sacrifice bunt and a single. A solo homer gave Los Gigantes’ one more run in the 6th. House also singled in the 2nd inning.
PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Criollos de Caguas 15, Indios de Mayaguez 2 — Los Criollos posted 21 hits and scored in all but one of the first 7 innings, including 4 in the 2nd and 5 in the 6th. SS Luis Figueroa singled and doubled and scored twice. 3B Ramon Vazquez singled twice and drove in 2 runs.
Leones de Ponce 3, Senadores de San Juan 0 — Another shut-out, as Los Senadores were held to just 2 hits. Starter Ben Snyder (Rangers, and Ball State University) gave up a walk in the 3rd inning, and lone singles in the 4th and 6th innings, as he pitched 7 innings for the win. RJ Rodriguez earned his 7th Save with a perfect 9th inning.
Cardenales de Lara 6, Tigres de Aragua 5 — A single, two walks, and a sacrifice fly gave Los Cardenales the go-ahead run in the top of the 8th, then held on for the win. Lara put up 13 hits, while Los Tigres had 7 hits, including 2 singles by SS Ronny Cedeno, and 2 doubles by LF Lastings Milledge. Lara scored 4 runs in the 3rd and one more in the 5th. Cedeno singled, stole second, and scored in the 1st inning. He singled again in the 6th to begin a rally. Two walks (one by C Hector Gimenez), a single, and Milledge’s first double, brought in 3 runs for Los Tigres in that inning. Aragua tied the score in the 7th, on an error, a bunt by Cedeno, and an RBI single. That rally was cut short when Romulo Sanchez came on in relief for Lara and ended the inning with two strikeouts. Milledge doubled again in the 8th inning and stole third base, but was out at home on a fielder’s choice.
MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE
Venados de Mazatlan 4, Tomateros de Culiacan 2 — LF Rogelios Noris led off the top of the 6th with his 5th double of the season for Los Venados. That sparked a 4-run rally, with three singles driving in three runs, and three walks forcing in a fourth run. Former Pirate SS Luis Cruz drove in Culiacan’s runs with a 2-run homer in the 4th.
A few signing notes for some former Pirates — LHP Phil Dumatrait has signed a minor league contract with the Twins, and LHP Neal Cotts has signed a minor league contract with the Yankees. OF Rajai Davis was traded from the A’s to the Blue Jays.
Sunday’s winter league action involving a few Pirates’ players and friends:
Aguilas Cibaenas 12, Tigres del Licey 1 — A 6-run 1st inning put the game into Los Aguilas’ pocket right from the start. Starling Marte came into the game in the 5th inning as a pinch runner (he didn’t score), then remained in the game in left field. He flied out in the 7th, then hit an RBI single in the 8th. Denny Bautista was one of the few Licey pitchers who held Los Aguilas scoreless, as he threw a perfect top of the 9th for Los Tigres. Indy area native Jake Fox went 0-for-4 for Los Tigres.
Tiburones de La Guaira 6, Tigres de Aragua 2 — Los Tiburones scored 5 runs over the first 3 innings, and Los Tigres could only manage 2 runs. In the top of the 1st, SS Ronny Cedeno followed a lead-off single with a sacrifice bunt, then another single brought in the first Aragua run. Their second run came in the 6th inning, when Cedeno led off with a double into left field, and a few minutes later, 1B Hector Gimenez doubled into right field, bringing in Cedeno. C Miguel Perez came in as a defensive replacement behind the plate, but flied out in his only plate appearance. CF Jorge Cortes went 0-for-3 with a walk. Former Pirate pitcher Chris Hernandez pitched the top of the 9th for La Guaira. He gave up a walk, but then got Cortes to bounce into a double play to end the game.
Cardenales de Lara 7, Navegantes del Magallanes 2 — Los Navegantes were also only able to put up 2 runs, one in the 2nd, and one in the 7th. SS Argenis Diaz contributed one of Los Navegantes’ 5 hits, but he did not score. Corey Hamman pitched the 7th inning for Magallanes, and he gave up a solo home run.
Bravos de Margarita 2, Aguilas de Zulia 1 — Anthony Claggett won his second game in two days for Los Bravos, this time with one scoreless inning of work (it was 1.1 innings yesterday). Los Bravos scored one run in the bottom of the 4th on a double, a single, and a grounder. Los Aguilas tied the score in the top of the 6th, also with a single and a double. Claggett took the mound to begin the 7th. He gave up a lead-off single, then retired the next three batters he faced. In the bottom of the inning, Los Bravos scored the go-ahead run on a single, a bunt, a wild pitch, and a sacrifice fly. That made Claggett the pitcher of record. Ronald Belisario pitched a perfect 9th inning for Margarita to collect his 10th save of the season.
Looking in on the Pirates’ players and friends in Saturday’s winter league action…
PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Criollos de Caguas 2, Gigantes de Carolina 1 — A low-hitting game, and Caguas scored their 2 runs in the bottom of the 7th on two singles and some mistakes by Los Gigantes. With the first two batters on base, SS Luis Figueroa bunted both into scoring position. That put the runner on third base in position to score on a wild pitch. Ramon Vazquez reached base on a fielding error at second base, which let the second run score. Another wild pitch and a walk put two runners on base again, but no more runs scored. Los Criollos also loaded the bases in the 3rd, on singles by Figueroa and Vazquez and a walk, and a walk and two more singles loaded the bases in the 6th, but both times the bases were left loaded. Vazquez also walked in the 1st inning. Los Gigantes’ only run came in the 5th, on a single, a double by Luis Matos, and a sacrifice fly.
Navegantes del Magallanes 4, Tigres de Aragua 0 — Los Tigres could not score despite 7 hits and 2 walks. RF Alex Romero had 3 of those 7 hits, and 1B Hector Gimenez had a single. SS Ronny Cedeno, CF Jorge Cortes, and C Raul Chavez were all hitless in the game. Los Navegantes scored all 4 of their runs in the top of the 2nd, on a solo homer, followed by four singles. Corey Hamman pitched to one batter in the 6th, and gave up a single. Two more walks loaded the bases for Magallanes, but the runners were left stranded. Jean Machi pitched the 9th inning for Magallanes and gave up the single to Gimenez, but a double play erased Gimenez and ended the game.
Bravos de Margarita 6, Aguilas del Zulia 4 — Anthony Claggett earned his first Venezuelan League win with 1.1 scoreless innings for Margarita. Los Bravos scored first, with a run in the bottom of the 1st, and Los Aguilas tied the score with one run in the top of the 2nd. Zulia scored 2 more runs in the top of the 3rd on two walks and three singles, and Claggett was brought into the game with 2 runs in, one out, and the bases loaded. he faced just one batter, and got the double play to end the inning. Los Bravos’ batters responded with 4 runs in the bottom of the 4th, on 4 singles, a walk, and a bases-clearing 3-RBI double. That gave Los Bravos the lead, which they would not give up, and Claggett was the pitcher of record. He began the top of the 4th with two outs, then a throwing error and a single put two runners on for Los Aguilas. Claggett was relieved at that point, but those runners did not score. Ronald Belisario earned his 9th save for Margarita.
Cheering for Pirates’ players and friends in a few winter league games on Friday…
VENZUELAN WINTER LEAGUE
Tigres de Aragua 4, Cardenales de Lara 1 — Aragua starting pitcher Yorman Bazardo pitched 8 innings and allowed only one run on 7 hits, earning his 5th win for Los Tigres. That one run came in the 9th, on a bases-loaded ground out. Los Tigres scored their first run in the 4th on a walk and a double. They added 2 more runs in the 5th. After a pair of walks, CF Jorge Cortes bunted both runners up one base, then an RBI double brought both runs in. 1B Hector Gimenez started a 2-out rally in the 8th with a walk, followed by two singles, which brought in Gimenez. Gimenez also singled in the 6th inning, and Cortes walked in the 7th. SS Ronny Cedeno went 0-for-4 for Aragua.
The rest of Friday’s Venezuelan League games were all postponed.
PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Criollos de Caguas 17, Gigantes de Carolina 4 — Los Criollos posted 20 hits and took advantage of 3 Carolina errors as they overwhelmed Los Gigantes. DH Javier Valentin had 4 hits for Los Criollos. 3B Ramon Vazquez contributed a hit and an RBI, and scored one run. SS Luis Figueroa had a hit and a walk, and he scored twice. Both Vazquez’s hit and Figueroa’s walk came in Caguas’ 7-run 3rd inning.
Leones del Escogido 3, Gigantes del Cibao 1 — Former Pirate farmhand C JR House had one hit for Los Gigantes, but he was lifted for a pinch-hitter in a critical situation in the 8th inning (despite his .375 average). The pinch-hitter was able to knock an RBI single, accounting for Los Gigantes’ only run. Los Leones scored on a solo homer in the 3rd, then added 2 runs in the 7th inning. Former Altoona Curve and Indy Indian SS Pedro Lopez had 2 hits for Escogido, but did not score. One more former Pirate farmhand, Gigantes’ reliever Juan Perez, pitched to one batter in the 8th inning, and got a ground out.
MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE
Caneros de Los Mochis 3, Venados de Mazatlan 2 — LF Rogelios Noris’ single in the 2nd inning loaded the bases for Los Venados, then a walk forced in the first run of the game. Mochis took the lead with 2 runs in the 6th and another run in the 7th. Mazatlan added one more run in the bottom of the 7th with a single, a throwing error, and an RBI ground out, but they couldn’t catch up.
(Early Sat. Morning)
Adelaide Bite 4, Perth Heat 2 (Game 1) — The Bite cruised through their opening series of the season, then ran into trouble with the Heat. They split the 4-game series last weekend in Perth, and when the two teams resumed play in Adelaide this weekend, Perth easily took the first two games of this series. This morning, the Bite salvaged a split of this series also, with a win of a double-header. There was only one inning of scoring in Game One. A single and a two-run homer gave Perth the lead in the top of the 4th inning. The Bite came back in the bottom of the 4th. Two walks, a grounder force out, and a third walk loaded the bases for RF Brendon Pett, who took the lead with a grand slam. A walk and a single followed the homer, but LF Quincy Latimore bounced into an inning-ending double play. Latimore singled in the 1st and walked in the 3rd, but both times was left on base.
Bite 11, Heat 4 (Game 2) — Adelaide’s Dushan Ruzic pitched a complete game in the night-cap, allowing 4 runs on 7 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 8 Perth batters. Ruzic faced only one batter over the minimum for the first 3 innings (fielding error), then got out of a 4th inning jam with a double play. Ruzic got plenty of run support, beginning with a 6-run 3rd inning by the Bite. Two singles and an error brought in the first run, and a walk and a double added the second run. LF Quincy Latimore smacked a 3-run homer over the left-center field wall to give the Bite a 5-0 lead. The next batter after Latimore was hit by a pitch, prompting the ejection of the Perth pitcher. A walk, a single, and a sacrifice fly brought in the 6th run of the inning. Perth scored 2 runs in each of the 5th and the 6th innings. The Bite matched the 2 runs in the 5th on a 2-RBI double. In the bottom of the 6th, two lead-off singles, one by Latimore, set up C Brandon Bantz for his 3-run homer. Latimore’s batting average sits at .400 and he leads the league with 5 homers and 16 RBI.