Cedeno Seizes Opportunity

Ronny Cedeno

Ronny Cedeno has been a pleasant surprise since he was acquired from the Seattle Mariners in the Jack Wilson trade on July 29.

Wilson was a fan favorite in Pittsburgh and played a solid defensive shortstop, but was below average at the plate. There was no heir apparent at shortstop for the Pirates. Brian Bixler had been a disappointment when he was given an opportunity and Luis Cruz is a utility infielder. Pittsburgh's other shortstop prospects are all at lower levels in the minor leagues.

Cedeno it turns out has been on the Pirates radar for the past couple of years and has played a solid shortstop and provided a little pop offensively. His play suggests he might be more than adequate at short for the Pirates in the long term.

He is batting .262 in 32 games with the Pirates, with four home runs and 15 RBI.

"I want the chance to play every day," Cedeno said. "I'm getting that opportunity now and I am trying to make the most of it. I believe I am good enough to play every day at shortstop."

When the Chicago Cubs made Cedeno available in trade during the past off-season, the Pirates tried to acquire him to be a utility player. Instead, the Cubs traded Cedeno to Seattle and the Pirates signed free agent Ramon Vazquez to a two-year, $4-million contract.

"Ronny is a guy we liked," Pirates manager John Russell said. "We felt he could come here and help our club off the bench. Now, he's showing he might be more than that."

The 26-year old Cedeno was considered a big time prospect when he was with the Cubs, but never lived up to his potential in Chicago.

Coming up through the Cubs' farm system and hit .355 with eight home runs and 36 RBIs in 65 games at Class AAA Iowa in 2005 before making his major-league debut that season. He got the chance to play regularly in 2006 and hit .246 with six homers, 41 RBIs, 17 walks and 109 strikeouts in 151 games.

When Lou Piniella became Cubs manager in 2007, Cedeno was relegated to the bench and eventually sent back to the minors before being dealt to Seattle.

Cedeno's defense has never been questioned, the big question is can he hit enough to remain an everyday player.

"I know the big question is if I can hit," Cedeno said. "I think I can. I really believe if I get the chance to play every day that I'll be able to be more consistent."

Cedeno was sidelined for a few games when he broke the tip of his pinky finger fielding a ground ball, but is back in the lineup on an everyday basis.

He is also thrilled to be back in the National League.

"I think the best thing for me is that I'm back in the National League, where I know the pitchers and know the league," Cedeno said.

Cedeno is hoping that with the new start in Pittsburgh, he can finally live up to his potential.

"This seems like it is going to be a good opportunity for me," Cedeno explained. "They're going with young guys, and I'm still a young guy. Hopefully, we'll all come together and grow into a good team."

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