East meets West


Welcome to PNC Park. Have a pierogi.

The flock of Japanese media that’s here to cover Masumi Kuwata got a taste of Pittsburgh tonight, as it was kielbasa-and-pierogi night in the press dining room. The hometown grub wasn’t as good as what you’ll find during Nationality Days on Merchant Street in Ambridge — I still lick my lips when I think about a night out there years ago with a friend — but, as media chow goes, it was great.

Last night, I dined with Kazumi, who writes for Tokyo Chunichi Sports. She gave her first-ever pierogi a thumbs up. She said it reminded her a little of gyoza, a dumpling filled with ground beef and onion.

Who knows? Maybe if Kuwata sticks around long enough, the Bucs will ship in some sushi.

Jack Wilson was not in the starting lineup tonight — the third game in a row he was replaced by Jose Castillo. Curious.

Yeah, Wilson had a rough game in the field Saturday against the Yankees. But just a day earlier, he made a great play on a grounder to gun down speedy Johnny Damon. The shoulder injury he sustained a month ago that hampered his throwing motion appears to have cleared up.

So how to explain management’s sudden interest in playing Castillo, who barely had a reason to put on his cleats the previous three weeks?

Could be manager Jim Tracy wants to give Wilson a breather. A good, long breather. Calm things down. Recharge Wilson’s batteries.

Could be Castillo has earned some extended playing time for handling his demotion like a good soldier.

Or, it could be a trade is brewing. Dealing Wilson wouldn’t be easy. He’s making $5.25 million this year, $6.5 million next year, $7.25 million in 2009 and $8.4 million (with a $600,000 buyout) in 2010. The Pirates would have to eat some of that salary to make a deal.

For now, I think the first explanation is most likely. It would be easy to accept that, if Wilson is back out there Thursday night. But if he’s not … well, stay tuned.