Pirates Sign Meyer, Rosters Ready

One more day until the minor league openers…..

Rosters for the Indianapolis Indians, Bradenton Marauders, and West Virginia Power are now also set.  Check out their rosters, plus the Altoona Curve’s  HERE.    Both 1B Jeff Clement and RHP Tyler Yates are listed as with the Indians, but on the Disabled List.   

Yesterday, the Pirates signed LHP Dan Meyer to a minor league contract, and assigned him to the Indians’ bullpen.  Meyer is a 29-year-old from New Jersey, who was the Braves’ first round draft pick in 2002.  He advanced quickly in their organization and made his major league debut with Atlanta in September 2004.  After that season, Meyer was traded to the A’s.  He pitched the next two seasons at AAA Sacramento, then split the 2007 and 2008 seasons between Sacramento and Oakland.  He started for Sacramento, but pitched out of the bullpen for the A’s.  He struggled at the major league level, with a 7.98 ERA (39 earned runs in 44 innings).  The Marlins picked up Meyer off waivers after the 2008 season, and he pitched in relief for them for the entire 2009 season, when he made 71 appearances, and allowed 20 earned runs and 47 hits in 58.1 innings, for a 3-2 record, 2 saves, and a 3.09 ERA.  Meyer began the season with Florida, but had some tough outings before missing some time due to a calf injury.  He gave up more runs upon his return, and in a total of 13 relief appearances, he allowed 10 earned runs on 15 hits in 9.1 innings (9.64 ERA).  Meyer spent the rest of the season, except for one game, at AAA New Orleans, where he made 32 relief appearances, with 15 earned runs and 32 hits in 40 innings, for a 3.38 ERA.  He struck out 27 batters (6.1 K/ 9 innings), but also walked a few too many — 16  (3.6 walks/ 9 innings).  Meyers signed a minor league contract with the Phillies for the 2011 season, and was invited to their major league camp for spring training, but he did not make the team.  That made him available for the Pirates, who were looking for lefty bullpen help.  If he does well in Indianapolis, he’ll be heading to Pittsburgh.  

Meanwhile, the Pirates have released reliever Craig Hansen.  Hansen has been battling a nerve problem in his neck and shoulder, and has not pitched for the Pirates since early 2009.  Of that deal for Jason Bay, now Bryan Morris is the only player left with the Pirates… Brandon Moss and Andy LaRoche have moved on.

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2011 Prospect Watching: Thomas, Gallagher, Yates

Finishing up with the rest of the Pirates’ minor league pitchers:

Justin Thomas  –  L/L,  6′ 3″,  215 lbs
Thomas is a 27-year-old reliever, chosen by the Mariners in the 4th round of the 2005 draft.  He’d moved steadily up through their organization, mostly as a starter and made his major league debut in September 2008.  He was moved to the bullpen, but struggled there in 2009 at AAA Tacoma, and at the end of that season, he was put on waivers and claimed by the Pirates, who later outrighted him to AAA Indianapolis.  Thomas started the 2010 season at Indianapolis, where he generally shut down the opposition.  After allowing 3 earned runs on 6 hits over his first 3 appearances (5.1 innings), Thomas did not allow another run in his next 15 innings/ 9 appearances, and gave up only 4 hits in that time.  He gave up a homer in his next appearance, then allowed only one run over his 13.1 innings/ 11 appearances, with 5 hits.  Thomas was promoted to the Pirates in late June, but appeared in only 3 games there, allowing 6 runs on 7 hits in 5 innings.  After about 2.5 weeks, he was returned to Indianapolis.  Over the next 6 appearances, he allowed 7 runs, though 6 of them came in two games.  Thomas was back up to Pittsburgh at the beginning of August, and got into 4 games in a week, and this time pitched very well — 3.2 scoreless innings and 5 hits.  Even so, he was heading back to Indy after the week, where he gave up 2 runs in one of his 5 outings, and otherwise pitched 5.1 scoreless innings.  Thomas must have been thinking that he was a yo-yo — back to Pittsburgh for one game in late August, when he gave up 2 runs in 2 innings.  The yo-yo bounced right back to Indy, for another 5 games, and only one run in 6.2 innings.  When the minor league season ended, Thomas was again brought up to the Pirates, to appear in 4 more games, allowing one home run in one of the game, but pitching 2.1 scoreless innings in the other three.  (Whew!)  Thomas’s final stats at Indianapolis:  5-0 record and 4 saves, with 2.48 ERA, and 15 earned runs on 33 hits over 54.1 innings; also 10 walks (1.7 walks/ 9 innings) and 31 strikeouts (8.5 K/ 9 innings).  And his final stats in Pittsburgh, not as impressive:  0-1 record, with 6.23 ERA, and 9 earned runs on 21 hits in 13 innings; also 5 walks and 5 strikeout, for 3.5 walks/ 9 innings and 3.5 K/ 9 innings.  Thomas was again removed from the 40-man roster at the end of the season, then signed to a minor league contract.  Thomas also pitched 19.1 innings of relief for Los Bravos de Margarita in winter ball.  He earned a 1-2 record and gave up 11 earned runs, for a 5.12 ERA.  He had trouble with walks for Los Bravos also (10), and struck out 14 batters.  Thomas was invited to the Pirates’ major league spring training, but was reassigned to Indianapolis, where he will begin the 2011 season.  If he can repeat last season’s domination in AAA, he will see Pittsburgh again.

Sean Gallagher  –  R/R,  6′ 2″,  235 lb
Gallagher came to the Pirates from the Padres, who had designated him for assignment in June 2010.  He’d initially been drafted by the Cubs in the 12th round of the 2004 draft, and later was traded to the A’s and then to the Padres.  Gallagher began the 2010 season with the Padres, and allowed 10 runs on 14 hits in 13 innings of relief over 9 appearances.  He was sent to AAA Portland in mid-May, and made 3 starts there, where he gave up 6 runs over 11 innings.  Gallagher was called back to San Diego at the end of May, resuming a relief role for the next 6 games.  He allowed 4 runs in 10.1 innings, including one game in which he pitched 3.1 scoreless innings and gave up just 2 hits.  After arriving in Pittsburgh, Gallagher again pitched out of the bullpen.  He made 7 appearances in July, and allowed 4 runs on 7 hits in 9 innings (4.00 ERA).  He made another 13 appearances in August, and gave up 4 runs on 5 hits in the first 9 of those (7.2 innings).  That was followed by a tough week, when Gallagher gave up 5 runs in two different games, and one run in each of three more games.  He finished the season with 10 better outings, allowing 2 runs over 9.2 innings.  His stats for Pittsburgh:  a 2-1 record and a 6.03 ERA, with 23 earned runs and 38 hits in 34.1 innings, with 22 walks and 22 strikeouts, for 5.8 walks and strikeouts per 9 innings.  Like Thomas, Gallagher was removed from the Pirates’ 40-man roster and assigned to Indianapolis.  At age 25, he’ll begin the season at Indy, where he will need to regain the form he had in the lower minors in the Mariners’ organization.

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More Reassignments And Another Loss

Rays  9,  Pirates  5
The Pirates out-hit the Rays 10-9 this afternoon in Port Charlotte, Florida, but the Rays made the most of their opportunities and took the win.  The Pirates got busy in the top of the 1st, when Pedro Ciriaco, in center field again, opened the game with a single, then stole base.  He moved to third on a fly out, then scored on C Ryan Doumit’s double into right field.  RF Matt Diaz started the top of the 2nd with a single, and advanced to third base on a throwing error.  He scored on a wild pitch.  1B Andy Marte doubled, was bunted over to third base, and scored on starting pitcher Charlie Morton’s soft looper single into left field, giving the Pirates a 3-0 lead.  
The lead did not last long.  Morton got out of the first inning with a double play, but began the bottom of the 2nd by loading the bases on a double, a bunt, and a hi batter.  A 2-RBI double and a sacrifice fly brought in 3 runs for the Rays to tie the game.  The Pirates took the lead again in the 4th.  Marte led off with a single into right field, and 2B Corey Wimberly reached on a fielding error.  Morton bunted them up one base each, then both scored on SS Josh Rodriguez’s line drive single into right.  
Morton sailed through the bottom half of the 3rd and 4th innings, but loaded the bases again in the 5th, on a walk and two singles.  Then he got wild and forced in one run with a hit batter, and a second run with a walk, and the game was again tied, at 5-5.  Morton got out of the inning with two fly outs, and a force out at the plate on a little dribbler that did not leave the home plate area.  
Joel Hanrahan took over on the mound for the 6th inning.  He retired the first two batters he faced, then walked the next two.  A wild pitch moved the two runners up to second and third base, then an RBI single brought in both runners, giving the Rays a 7-5 lead.  Jose Veras pitched a perfect 7th inning, with one strikeout.  The Rays scored 2 more runs off Chris Resop in the 8th inning.  A double, and a bunt back to the mound that turned into a single, put two runners on base.  A sacrifice fly drove in one run, and a triple plated the second.  

2B Gift Ngoepe led off the top of the 9th with a walk, then SS Jordy Mercer singled through to left field, but both were left on base.  LF Evan Chambers, 3B Andy Vasquez, RF Robby Grossman, and 1B Matt Hague also got into the game. 

The Indy Indians were scheduled to play the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees this afternoon in Bradenton.  No word as yet — results from the minor league camp can be hit or miss.

The Pirates pared down their camp roster by four more this morning.  Pitcher Daniel McCutchen was optioned to AAA Indianapolis, where he could either be a starter or pitch in long relief.  Relievers Tyler Yates and Sean Gallagher were also reassigned to minor league camp, and are both expected to go to the Indy Indians’ bullpen.  C Wyatt Toregas and INF Josh Fields were also reassigned to minor league camp.  

Pitcher Fernando Nieve, who was reassigned to the minor league camp on Monday and released on Tuesday, was not unemployed for long.  On Thursday, he signed a minor league contract with the Astros.  

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Homers for Alvarez and McCutchen In Pirates’ Loss

Astros  10,  Pirates  6
The Astros and the Pirates had a hit-fest this afternoon in Bradenton, combining for 30 hits (14 for the Pirates).  But even with a solo homer by 3B Pedro Alvarez and a 2-run blast by CF Andrew McCutchen, it wasn’t enough for the Pirates to take the win.   Starter Brian Burres struggled trhough 5 innings and gave up 6 runs on 10 hits.  The Astros jumped right on Burres in the top of the 1st, scoring 2 runs on a single, a walk, an RBI double, and a sacrifice fly.  McCutchen tied the score with his homer in the bottom of the 1st.  The Pirates took the lead in the 2nd inning, when C Ryan Doumit led off with a single up the middle.  SS Ronny Cedeno doubled, putting two runners into scoring position.  Burres chopped an infield grounder that let Doumit score, and LF Jose Tabata’s sacrifice fly brought in Cedeno.  But the Astros kept coming at Burres, with a solo homer in the top of the 3rd, then 3 more runs in the 5th.  Two singles and a fielding error by RF Matt Diaz tied the score, and a double and a sacrifice fly drove in 2 more runs, to give the Astros a 6-4 lead.  Alvarez’s homer got the Pirates within one run again in the bottom of .  2B Neil Walker got the run back in the bottom of the frame with a double, scoring on a single and a sacrifice fly by 1B Lyle Overbay.  The Astros put the game away in the top of the 9th.  With Tyler Yates on the mound, three consecutive singles, a double, and a sacrifice fly gave the Astros 3 more runs.  

Chris Resop gave up a double but kept the Astros from scoring in the 8th inning.  Mike Crotta pitched a perfect 6th inning, continuing his scoreless streak for the spring.  2B Pedro Ciriaco singled and pinch-hitter Steve Pearce doubled in the game, both boosting their cause as they try to make the Opening Day roster.  LF John Bowker, CF Corey Wimberly, C Dusty Brown, and SS Josh Rodriguez all got into the game.  

The Indianapolis Indians did not have a scheduled game today.   
The members of the 2010 Altoona Curve were presented with their championship rings before the Pirates’ game today. 

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Pirates’ Pitchers Rule

Pirates  4,  Blue Jays  1
Pitchers were the story for the Pirates this afternoon in Dunedin, Florida.  Five Pirates’ pitchers combined to hold the Blue Jays to 4 hits this afternoon in Dunedin, Florida.  Charlie Morton made his second strong start in the Grapefruit League.  He gave up one run in the top of the 1st, courtesy of two former Pirates:  CF Rajai Davis led off with a double, legged out when LF Matt Diaz was a little slow in picking up (the Pirates should have anticipated Davis’ speed).   3B Jose Bautista drove the run in with a single slipped through into left field.   Morton ended the inning by inducing a double play, then he retired the side in both the 2nd and 3rd innings.  That included a nice barehanded snatch of a bunt attempt, and a whirl to throw the batter out at first.  Brad Lincoln buzzed through the next three innings, retiring all 9 batters he faced.  Morton and Lincoln each struck out one batter, and neither gave up a walk.  Tyler Yates and Jeff Locke each took an inning, and neither gave up a hit, though Yates walked one.  Cesar Valdez gave up the other two Jays’ hits in the 9th inning.  After a strikeout, he surrendered two singles, and with a wild pitch, that gave him runners on the corners.  But he picked the runner off first, then ended the game with a strikeout.

The Pirates’ hitters were having some trouble with Blue Jays’ starter Brett Cecil.  Cecil struck out 5 of the first 6 Pirates’ batters, and allowed only one hit, a double by C Jason Jaramillo, in the 3rd inning.  Jaramillo doubled again to lead off the 6th inning.  CF Andrew McCutchen followed with a walk, then a ground out put both runners into scoring position.  3B Pedro Alvarez drove in both with a standing triple into the right field corner, to give the Pirates a 2-1 lead.  They added a run in the 7th, when 2B Brian Friday doubled into left field with two outs, then scored on C Dusty Brown’s single.  Another two-out rally provided the Pirates’ fourth run in the top of the 9th.  SS Pedro Ciriaco lined a singled into right field, then stole second base.  3B Josh Rodriguez slipped a single into left field, and Ciriaco came around to score.  Rodriguez also stole second base, and Brown was hit by a pitch, but the rally ended when CF Corey Wimberly popped out.  
 
Also getting into the game:  Jeremy Farrell pinch-hit (ground out) in the 8th inning;  his father, John Farrell, is the new manager of the Blue Jays.  1B Josh Fields, LF Alex Presley, RF Gorkys Hernandez, and 3B Andy Marte also played.

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