Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington revealed before Sunday’s
game against San Diego that very few players are interested in
spending part of their winter in the Dominican Republic, Mexico,
Puerto Rico or Venezuela.
"Frankly, I wish players would embrace the idea of playing winter
ball because it can be a great part of a player's development,"
Huntington said. "Outside of playing in the major leagues, these
guys will never face a more pressure-packed situation than playing
winter ball. That is their major-league season in Latin America and
the stakes are very high because everyone is playing to win.
"I'm not sure that I've heard anyone who went down there and
performed say that it didn't help them. The guys who go down there
with the wrong mentality and get sent home early, they hate it.
They're the ones who come back with the bad stories."
A good example of some one who benefited from playing winter ball is
former rule five pick Evan Meek had a successful stint with Mazatlan
in the Mexican Pacific Coast League last winter posting a 1-1 record
with a 2.93 ERA and 10 saves.
"It was a great experience and that is a great league down there,"
Meek offered. "There are great players – I really didn’t know what
to expect going down there, but I had a great time and it was good
experience. You pitch differently down in that league than you would
up here. There was a lot of backwards pitching – they throw a lot of
breaking balls in that league. It was a great experience and I would
do it again."
Huntington is clearly disappointed by the players indifference
toward playing winter ball.
"I hate to sound like an old-timer, but a lot of these guys don't
need the money that's down there," Huntington said. "It shouldn't be
about the money. It should be about the development."
OHLENDORF DONE: General manager Neal Huntington confirmed on
Sunday that right-hander Ross Ohlendorf will not pitch again this
"Ross has had a tremendous year this year," Huntington said. "We are
thrilled with his progress. We felt like given his pitch count for
this year, given his innings threshold for this year, that we pushed
it about as far as we felt we should push it. It was an appropriate
time to call it a season."
Ohlendorf finishes the season 11-10 with a 3.92 ERA in 29 starts.
Those 11 wins are currently a staff high, though Zach Duke (10-14)
has a chance to match or pass Ohlendorf in that category before the
season ends. Duke is likely to make three more starts.
Looking ahead to next season Huntington indicated on Sunday that
Ohlendorf, Duke and Paul Maholm will all head into the 2010 season
with a rotation spot already locked up barring any injury or
offseason conditioning issue.
BUCS OFFENSE AWFUL: San Diego handed the Pirates a 4-0 loss
on Sunday at PNC Park. It marked 15th shutout defeat of the season
for the Bucs.
The Pirates have a scored a total of 18 runs in their past nine
games, prompting manager John Russell to finally acknowledge the
"We're not a very good offensive team right now," Russell said.
"We're not doing some things we need to do."
Unfortunately Russell is not blessed with a lot of options
"I wish there was (something I could do to spark them)," Russell
lamented. "They're just not swinging the bat well right now. We just
need to have good at-bats, with guys on base, especially.We're not
consistent, we have to find a way to get better."