Parker, Blyleven denied again


The 2009 Hall of Fame class was announced this afternoon, with Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice getting the call.

Henderson, the all-time steals leader, was a no-brainer. Rice made it in his final year of eligibility.

Four former Pirates — Bert Blyleven, Dave Parker, Dan Plesac and Jay Bell — did not received the minimum 75 percent of support from Baseball Writers Association of America voters required for induction. Parker was checked on just 15 percent of the ballots, the same amount as last year.

There were 23 players on this year’s ballot, including 13 returning players. Both numbers were the lowest in the history of the HOF election.


No Pirates on Team USA


There are no Pirates on the “player interest list” for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. USA Baseball will release its complete, 45-man provisional roster Friday. The final 28-man roster will be revealed Feb. 24, and the team will begin workouts March 2 in Clearwater, Fla.

The list of 24 committed players includes just one second baseman (Dustin Pedroia) and four pure outfielders (Ryan Braun, Grady Sizemore, Curtis Granderson and Brad Hawpe). As it mulls its options, Team USA ought to consider at least reaching out to either Nate McLouth or Freddy Sanchez. Both are high-energy players and former All-Stars who I think would thrive in the spotlight of the WBC.

Ian Snell already has committed to pitch for Puerto Rico. Dave Davidson is expected to pitch for Canada. The 16-team tournament will run March 5-23.


Duck and cover in Milwaukee


This is only peripherally related to the Pirates, but it was too funny not to post: The Milwaukee Brewers will hold an open tryout Tuesday, and among those expected to attend is Randall Simon.

Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel mentions the item in his blog under the headline “Return of the Wienie Whacker?”

In 2003, Simon, then with the Pirates, earned a spot in baseball infamy when he leaned out of the visitors’ dugout at Miller Park and clobbered one of the Racing Sausages with his bat.

The incident drew international attention and much scorn for Simon, who quickly faded into obscurity. The first baseman has not played in the majors since 2006.

According to Haudricourt’s report, Brewers GM Doug Melvin is willing to forgive and forget Simon’s trangression. “That’s in the past,” Melvin said.


Another setback for Dumatrait


It appears unlikely left-hander Phil will be in the starting rotation, at least at the start of the season. Dumatrait suffered a setback in his rehab from shoulder surgery and will be shut down for 10 days.

Dumatrait was examined yesterday by orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala. Andrews administered a cortisone shot and sent Dumatrait, who had reached the long-toss stage of his throwing program, back to square one in his recovery process.

“It’s definitely discouraging,” Dumatrait said this evening, as he waited to board a flight from Birmingham to Sarasota, Fla. “It was kind of grabbing and sore in the front of my shoulder. I was hoping it was just scar tissue, but it never got any better.”

Andrews did not discover any new damage to Dumatrait’s shoulder, so no further surgery is necessary.

Dumatrait had been scheduled to throw off a mound for the first time next week during mini-camp in Bradenton, Fla. The layoff will put him well behind the other candidates for the rotation, and means he could begin the season in the Pirates’ bullpen or on the disabled list.

Dumatrait is out of minor league options.


McClatchy’s legacy


What will be Kevin McClatchy’s legacy with the Pirates?

Will it be the mere fact that the team still has “Pittsburgh” in its moniker? Will it be cozy, graceful PNC Park? Or the showcase 2006 All-Star Game?

Or will it be a decade-plus of losing seasons? Will it be the Aramis Ramirez trade, which was forced by the team’s messed-up finances? Or “Operation Shutdown,” the bottled-water-ban fiasco and Dave Littlefield?

In the end, I guess, it will be a combination of all that. And I think history will show Pirates fans could have ended up with a lot worse.

A lot of folks always viewed McClatchy as a carpetbagger, eager to sandbag the team. Remember all those rumors, which persisted for years, that he secretly hoped to relocate the Pirates to Sacramento? He was raised in California, schooled in New York and got his first baseball job in Florida. Yet, he bought two houses here, and wound up living in Pittsburgh longer than he did in any one city.

“It definitely feels like home,” McClatchy told me in the spring of 2006, a few weeks before the start of his final season as principal owner. “I feel strongly about this region. I want it to be successful.”

McClatchy never gave any reason to doubt he felt the same way about the Pirates. He would brood after losses and high-five total strangers after victories. His cell phone number ends in “96,” a tribute to the year he bought the team.

Like Barney Dreyfuss, McClatchy always had the desire to put a winning team on the field. But McClatchy lacked gifted lieutenants in his front office and the deep pockets to lure top-notch talent or cover for mistakes.

“The thing that kills me is when I read that I don’t care whether we win or lose,” McClatchy said. “I do take it to heart — more so, I would say, than a majority of folks in my industry who are in my position.


Pirates ink 13 minor leaguers


The Pirates have signed 13 players to minor league contracts. Two of the players — infielders Pedro Lopez and Anderson Machado — also were invited to spring training.

Lopez spent all of last season with Triple-A Syracuse (Blue Jays), where he batted .236 with 27 RBI. He’s played a total of 16 games in the majors for the White Sox (2005) and Reds (2007).

Machado played last summer in the Mets’ farm system, where he hit a combined .224 with 27 RBI. He’s gotten into 24 games in the majors for the Phillies (2003), Reds (2004-05) and Rockies (2005), and was used mostly at shortstop.

The Pirates also re-signed left-hander Corey Hamman, who went 9-9 with a 4.05 ERA in 28 games last year for Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis.

The rest of the signees — pitchers Jeffrey Infante, Carlos Vasquez, Sadid Pontier-Frias, Jean Ozoria, Angel Reyes, Eduardo Rodriguez; outfielders Jacobo Espiede, Eliezer Aquino and Jesus Vasquez; and infielder Leandro Mejia — were assigned to the Pirates’ Dominican Summer League team.