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Morning rumors: Capps, Paulino

LAS VEGAS — The phones in GM Neal Huntington’s suite must be especially busy this morning, as there are at least two teams who might be interested in trading for closer Matt Capps — though it appears no firm offers have been made — and another team could be focused on catcher Ronny Paulino.

The New York Mets could use Capps in a setup role for newly acquired closer Francisco Rodriguez. The St. Louis Cardinals are seeking a closer after coming up short in the K-Rod sweepstakes.

Capps is in the final year of a contract which will pay him $2.3 million in 2009. He missed two months last season because of shoulder bursitis. In 12 outings after coming off the DL, Capps went 4 for 4 in save opps and posted a 2.70 ERA. He did not allow a walk in his final 19 appearances.

The Pirates are mulling a potential trade with the Florida Marlins for young shortstop Roberto Andino. In the past, the Marlins have inquired about Paulino.

Andino, 24, was the Marlins’ second-round pick in 2002. Florida took him on the advice of scout Marc DelPiano, who recently was hired as a special assistant to Pirates GM Neal Huntington.

Perry Hill, the Pirates’ new infield coach, tutored Andino when Hill was on the Marlins’ coaching staff.

Andino has played in the majors in each of the past four seasons, but has appeared in a total of just 79 games.

Last season, Andino hit .206 (13 for 63) with two homers and nine RBI. He is more highly regarded for his defense than his offense — Andino has a subpar, .250 career on-base percentage.

Andino is out of options. If the Pirates get him, he would be on the Opening Day roster, either as a backup or the starter if Jack Wilson is traded.

If they acquire Andino, the Pirates likely woild cut off talks with free agent David Eckstein. Huntington already has said Luis Cruz is able to fill a backup middle infielder role in 2009.

The Marlins had eyed Paulino for some time. Manager Fredi Gonzalez often referred to Paulino as “The Babe,” because he hits so well against Florida.

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