Pirates Notes and Roster Report


Posted Jul 5, 2004


The Pirates swept a four-game series from Milwaukee last weekend to extend their season-best winning streak to nine games. That came on the heels of the Pirates losing 14 of 17.

The winning streak is the longest since the Pirates ran off 11 in a row from Sept. 12-22, 1996.

The Pirates also swept a three-game series from St. Louis to notch their first perfect homestand since going 7-0 in 1978 with a four-game sweep of Atlanta and three-game sweep of the New York Mets. The Pirates hadn't swept a three-game series from the Cardinals in Pittsburgh since 1989.

The Pirates also won seven straight games at PNC Park for the first time since it opened in 2001.

OF Jason Bay won the NL rookie of the month award for June as he hit .273 with seven homers and 17 RBIs in 23 games.

The Pirates have never had a Rookie of the Year since the award's inception since 1947. However, Bay is becoming a solid candidate as he entered the week hitting .301 with 10 homers and 35 RBIs in 45 games.

1B Daryle Ward has a torn ligament in his right thumb, but doctors won't be sure whether he will need surgery until they re-evaluate him later this week. Ward, meanwhile, says he would like to avoid surgery if possible.

Ward suffered the injury June 25 in a collision at first base with Cincinnati C Jason LaRue. Ward was placed on the DL the next day.

The injury is an aggravation of one Ward suffered in 1996 while playing for the Detroit Tigers' Class A Lakeland farm club. Ward hurt himself diving back to second base on a pickoff that year but was able to avoid surgery.

In what might be becoming the longest appeal process in history, RHP Salomon Torres was still waiting at the start of the week for a ruling on his June 28 hearing with John McHale Jr., MLB executive VP administration.

Torres is looking for a reduction of the four-game suspension and $1,700 fine he received for throwing two pitches behind Oakland C Damian Miller in a June 12 game.

LHP Sean Burnett notched his first two major league wins last week after going 0-2 with one no-decision in his first three starts.

Burnett pitched six shutout innings against National League Central-leading St. Louis. He then beat Milwaukee, scattering two runs on nine hits in six innings.

Burnett was pleased about the win over the Brewers because he learned he can win at the major league level without his best stuff.

C Jason Kendall's streak of 34 consecutive games started behind the plate ended in the second game of a July 2 doubleheader with Milwaukee as C/1B/OF Craig Wilson took his place.

BY THE NUMBERS: 9 The Pirates' winning streak entering the week, their longest since 1996.

QUOTE: "People ask me about winning it, and it's nice to be mentioned as a contender. Still, it's not like I sit around thinking about it. There's far too much season left." Pirates LF Jason Bay on his chances of becoming the first player in franchise history to win NL Rookie of the Year.

ROSTER REPORT
OF Ruben Mateo's contract was sold to Kansas City after the Pirates had designated him for assignment. Mateo, 26, hit .242 with three homers and seven RBIs in 19 games for the Pirates after being called up from Triple-A Nashville on May 19. Mateo also hit .316 with 11 homers and 25 RBIs in 35 games for Nashville.

PITCHING TRENDS: Pirates starters are 7-1 with a 2.39 ERA in their last 12 games and have pitched six or more innings in 13 straight games.

PITCHERS TO WATCH:
RHP Kris Benson showcased his talents in front of scouts from many contenders Saturday (July 3) and did quite well, beating Milwaukee as he allowed two runs in seven innings. Scouts from Anaheim, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Minnesota and St. Louis were watching as Benson worked into the seventh inning for his sixth straight start. He also did not allow a home run for his sixth straight outing, running his string of homerless innings to 45.

RHP Josh Fogg has always been known as a finesse pitcher, but he is taking that tag to extremes lately. Fogg has struck out just one batter in his last three starts, a span of 16 2/3 innings. Despite his lack of a strikeout pitch, Fogg has won five of his last seven decisions.

RHP Jose Mesa was able to shrug off his first blown save of the season, which came when he failed to hold a 5-4 ninth-inning lead against St. Louis on June 30 after 18 straight conversions. Mesa wound up getting the win in that game as the Pirates rallied in the bottom of the ninth inning. He then notched saves in his next two games against Milwaukee to raise his season total to 20 in 21 opportunities.

RHP Brian Meadows does one thing necessary for a late-inning reliever: keep the ball in the park. Meadows has allowed just one home run a game-winner to Milwaukee's Keith Ginter on May 23 in 41 innings this season.

LINEUP LOWDOWN: The Pirates looked to have the least powerful lineup in the National League entering the season. However, they are third in the 16-team league with a .272 batting average.

POSITION PLAYERS TO WATCH:
3B Chris Stynes had easily his best game of the year Sunday (July 4) when hit his first home run and drove in the winning run with a two-run double to lead the Pirates to a 6-2 win over Milwaukee. The Pirates signed Stynes to a one-year, $975,000 contract as a free agent last winter with the idea he would be their starting third baseman. However, he is now the No. 3 third baseman behind Rob Mackowiak and Bobby Hill after hitting .218 in 59 games. Stynes, though, has actually had an even worse first half in his career. He hit just .091 in 44 at-bats for Cincinnati before the All-Star break in 1999.

LF Jason Bay is rapidly emerging as a serious National League Rookie of the Year candidate. He entered the week leading NL rookies in homers (10), RBIs (35), on-base percentage (.374) and slugging percentage (.618).

1B/OF Craig Wilson has cooled after a hot start. He has gone 15-for-99 (.152) in his last 28 games since his batting average peaked at .350 on June 4. Wilson, though, continues to be a threat late in games. He is hitting .347 from the seventh inning on.

2B Jose Castillo is starting to get a handle of hitting major league pitching. The rookie has gone 8-for-23 (.348) in his last eight games. Castillo has been extremely impressive in the field, and Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon says he turns the double play as well as any second baseman in the NL.

MEDICAL WATCH: RHP Brian Boehringer (right shoulder tendinitis) is on the 15-day DL retroactive to June 2. He has felt pain in his shoulder while throwing, and the Pirates don't have a timetable for his return. C Humberto Cota (strained oblique muscle in left side) is on the 15-day DL retroactive to May 28. He is able to catch and throw but has not been cleared to hit, leaving his return date undecided. LHP Mike Johnston (left elbow inflammation) is on the 15-day DL retroactive to June 22 and is expected to return right after the All-Star break. INF Freddy Sanchez (bone spur in right ankle) is on the 15-day DL as he recovers from November surgery. He is on an injury rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Nashville and is hitting .208 with three RBIs in 10 games. Sanchez is likely to stay with the Sounds until his 20-day assignment ends Friday (July 9). 1B/OF Daryle Ward (torn ligament in right thumb) is on the DL retroactive to June 26, and there is no timetable for his return.



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