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Alvarez deal nearly done

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MILWAUKEE — About 20 minutes ago, Major League Baseball and the Players Association announced an agreement that resolved the dispute regarding the status of Pirates first-round draft pick Pedro Alvarez.

Alvarez, who was the second overall choice in the June 5 draft, has been freed to being his playing career and was removed from the restricted list.

Alvarez is in Pittsburgh today, presumably to undergo a physical and sign his contract. The Pirates plan to send him first to the Instructional League in Bradenton, Fla., then might assign him to the Arizona Fall League.

The agreement between MLB and the union also clarifies the rules regarding the Aug. 15 signing deadline for draft picks. In the future, deadline extensions must be approved by the Players Association in addition to MLB.

“We fully support and welcome the changes to the manner in which the August 15 deadline will be administered,” MLB executive vice president of labor relations Rob Manfred said in a prepared statement. “We believe that the changes will result in a cleaner and more consistent application of the deadline which is in the best interests of both Clubs and players.”

GM Neal Huntington has joined the club here in Milwaukee, and may have an announcement regarding Alvarez with the next hour or so. Stay tuned.

– Brandon Moss’ knee injury, which could keep him out of action for six to eight months (if surgery is necessary), took him — and the Pirates — by surprise.

Moss admits he had felt pain in his left knee earlier this season, but told the Boston Red Sox, his employers at the time, that he’d get it checked out after the end of the season. An MRI exam was performed Monday, and turned up what appears to be a divot on the bone. The team doctor already has recommended surgery and Moss will get a second opinion later this week from a specialist in Colorado.

If Moss has the operation and all goes exceptionally well with his rehab, he would be slowed at the start of spring training. In a worst-case scenario, he would be out of action until a few weeks into the season.

There is absolutely nothing that would indicate the Red Sox knew they were passing along damaged good when they traded Moss to the Pirates as part of the Jason Bay swap. But it’s still a bad break for the Pirates.

It’s not the first time the Pirates have gotten a player in a big trade, only to see him quickly go down with an injury.

In July 2003, the Red Sox traded reliever Brandon Lyon to the Pirates. But when Lyon arrived, a physical turned up a frayed elbow ligament. This story had a happy ending, though. After the Pirates demanded the deal be re-worked, they sent Lyon back to Boston and got Freddy Sanchez.

Three days after he was sent from San Francisco to Pittsburgh in 2001, outfielder Armando Rios blew out his ACL. Before the trade, there had been reports of Rios having knee pain.

Lineups for tonight’s game:

PIRATES — Morgan LF, Sanchez 2B, Doumit C, Michaels LF, Adam LaRoche 1B, Pearce RF, Andy LaRoche 3B, Cruz SS, Maholm (9-8, 3.68) LHP

BREWERS — Cameron CF, Hall 3B, Braun LF, Fielder 1B, Hardy CF, Hart RF, Weeks 2B, Kendall C, Sabathia (9-2, 1.81) LHP

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