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Huntington passes first test

NASHVILLE — Maybe the Cleveland Indians expected too much of a “hometown discount” from former employee Neal Huntington. Maybe Huntington expected too much in return for his All-Star left fielder.

Either way, talks between the two teams that could have resulted in Jason Bay being traded to the Tribe are over.

The talks were going strong late Tuesday night at the Winter Meetings. Yet, when they sputtered to a halt Wednesday morning, the Indians issued denials to Cleveland media outlets that there was any conversation in the first place. It was a defiant, almost angry, response and a snub to Huntington.

Later in the day, Huntington confirmed the talks were “dead,” but suggested there was at least a small chance they could pick up again in the future, if the conditions were right. Huntington never named the players the Indians offered — outfielder Franklin Gutierrez, catcher Kelly Shoppach and lefty Cliff Lee — but intimated they were not the type of high-upside prospects the Pirates need to restock their system.

It was a baptism by fire for the rookie GM. To Huntington’s credit, he did not give in to pressure and pull the trigger on what would have been a bad trade simply for the sake of making a “comfortable” deal with his old club as a first step toward building up his new club.

Pirates fans may be unhappy that Bay is on the block — though they should realize it’s a deal that someday must be done.

But folks in Pittsburgh should be pleased that the Bucs’ new management team didn’t flunk its first test.

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