Contract talks still deadlocked and silent

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PHOENIX — There has been no movement by either side in the stalled contract talks between the Pirates and infielders Freddy Sanchez and Jack Wilson. The non-waiver trading deadline is 4 p.m. Friday.

Both players are battling injuries — Sanchez is wearing a light brace on his gimpy left knee and Wilson’s still bothered by a tender hamstring. Sanchez said he doesn’t know how he hurt his knee — it was sore when he woke up Friday — but insists it is not affecting him at the plate.

Sanchez is mired in an 0-for-20 slide. Since the All-Star break, he has struck out 13 times in 10 games. Are the off-the-field issues distracting Sanchez at game time?

“You never know,” Sanchez said with a shrug. “You try not to worry about that stuff, but … you never know. I’m not going to put an excuse on anything. I’m not having good at-bats, that’s what it boils down to.”

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What a play!

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PHOENIX — How about that play last night by shortstop Jack Wilson? In case you missed it, Wilson fielded a ball in left field and threw out Augie Ojeda, who was trying to stretch a double into a triple. “Do I get an outfield assist for that?” Wilson joked.

• The non-waiver trade deadline is five days away. Still nothing to report regarding contract talks between the Pirates and Wilson and Freddy Sanchez. The icy silence does not bode well. The Twins and Red Sox are actively shopping for a shortstop. If Wilson goes to Boston, he’d be the third ex-Bucco in the Sox lineup.

• With Ted Lilly out for up to a month, the Cubs are seeking either a starter or lefty help in the bullpen. They could be interested in dealing for either Zach Duke, John Grabow or Tom Gorzelanny. It would be an interesting situation for Gorzelanny — he’s a Chicago native, but grew up rooting hard for the White Sox.

• Lineups for this afternoon’s game:

PIRATES — 1.Andrew McCutchen cf, 2. Freddy Sanchez 2b, 3. Garrett Jones rf, 4. Ryan Doumit c, 5. Steve Pearce 1b, 6. Brandon Moss lf, 7. Andy LaRoche 3b, 8. Jack Wilson ss, 9. Virgil Vasquez (1-4, 5.54) rhp

DIAMONDBACKS — 1. Stephen Drew ss, 2. Gerardo Parra lf, 3. Justin Upton rf, 4. Mark Reynolds 3b, 5. Miguel Montero c, 6. Chris Young cf, 7. Josh Whitesell 1b, 8. Ryan Roberts 2b, 9. Max Scherzer (5-6, 3.86) rhp

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Freddy, Jack back in the lineup

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PHOENIX — Freddy Sanchez is on the field now, testing his sore left knee. He’s wearing a small wrap on the knee and has been penciled into the lineup for tonight’s game.

“We’ll see how it goes,” Sanchez said as he grabbed he glove and headed for the tunnel.

Jack Wilson (hamstring) also is back in the lineup after a four-game absence.

• Garrett Jones hit a laser beam homer last night in the fifth inning off Yusmeiro Petit.

“He didn’t even get all of it,” manager John Russell said. “Which makes it really impressive that it went out like it did.”

It’s no surprise Petit served up Jones’ 380-foot shot — he allows 2.17 homers per nine innings. That’s the worst rate in history for a pitcher with at least 100 innings pitched. It’s safe to say Petit (0-5, 7.68) won’t be in the Diamondbacks’ starting rotation much longer.

Lineups for tonight’s game:

PIRATES — 1.Andrew McCutchen cf, 2. Freddy Sanchez 2b, 3. Garrett Jones rf, 4. Ryan Doumit c, 5. Steve Pearce 1b, 6. Brandon Moss lf, 7. Andy LaRoche 3b, 8. Jack Wilson ss, 9. Ross Ohlendorf (8-7, 4.59) rhp

DIAMONDBACKS — 1. Stephen Drew ss, 2. Gerardo Parra cf, 3. Justin Upton rf, 4. Mark Reynolds 3b, 5. Miguel Montero c, 6. Chad Tracy 1b, 7. Alex Romero lf, 8. Auguie Ojeda 2b, 9. Doug Davis (4-10, 3.95) lhp

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Sanchez, Wilson sit out tonight’s game

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PHOENIX — Second baseman Freddy Sanchez is out of the lineup tonight with what manager John Russell described as an “achy” knee.

“I had planned on giving him a day off (during the road trip),” Russell said. “He should be fine (Saturday).”

Sanchez is on pace to get 629 plate appearances this season. He needs to reach 600 to trigger his $8.1 million vesting option for 2010. The Pirates have not reopened talks with Sanchez about a contract extension.

• Shortstop Jack Wilson missed his fourth straight game due to a sore left hamstring. Russell said he could return to action Saturday or Sunday.

• The Pirates will have a new neighbor next year in spring training. The Orioles are moving their training camp to Sarasota, Fla., into what used to be the Reds’ facility. The O’s had been in Fort Lauderdale. Sarasota is a 15-minute drive from McKechnie Field in Bradenton.

Lineups for tonight’s game:

PIRATES — 1.Andrew McCutchen cf, 2. Delwyn Young 2b, 3. Garrett Jones rf, 4. Ryan Doumit c, 5. Steve Pearce 1b, 6. Brandon Moss lf, 7. Andy LaRoche 3b, 8. Ramon Vazquez ss, 9. Zach Duke (8-9, 3.38) lhp

DIAMONDBACKS — 1. Stephen Drew ss, 2. Ryan Roberts 2b, 3. Justin Upton rf, 4. Mark Reynolds 3b, 5. Miguel Montero c, 6. Gerardo Parra lf, 7. Chris Young cf, 8. Chad Tracy 1b, 9. Yusmeiro Petit (0-4, 7.15) rhp

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Dumatrait to start for State College

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PHOENIX — Left-hander Phil Dumatrait — remember him? — will make a rehab start Sunday for Class A State College. Dumatrait has been out all year recovering from shoulder surgery. Tuesday, Dumatrait made his first rehab outing for the GCL Pirates and threw 56 pitches in 4 innings.

• It’s a solid show of faith that the Pirates assigned shortstop Argenis Diaz, who yesterday arrived in the Adam LaRoche trade, to Triple-A Indianapolis. That’s a promotion for Diaz, 22, who had been playing for Boston’s Double-A team.

GM Neal Huntington seemed to be high on Diaz’s potential as a big league player. Huntington insisted the fast-track approach has nothing to do with the trade rumors/impending free agency of shortstop Jack Wilson. “(Diaz) wasn’t meant to be a replacement for anybody,” the GM said.

Diaz was ranked No. 17 among the Red Sox’s prospects by Baseball America. Hunter Strickland, the right-hander who also was included in the trade, was not ranked.

According to Huntington, Diaz instantly becomes the best defensive shortstop in the Pirates’ system — not exactly high praise, considering the lack of talent at that position which only recently has begun to be addressed.

However, Diaz offensive shortcomings — he doesn’t get on base much and lacks flash on the basepaths — might slot him into a backup role in the majors.

Strickland has a decent strikeout-to-walk ratio (51-13) this season in A ball, but he’s not a strikeout pitcher. He likely projects as a reliever in the majors. For now, he’ll pitch for Class A West Virginia, at the same level he was at before the deal.

• Seventh-round draft pick Trent Stevenson, a right-handed pitcher, signed today. The size of Stevenson’s bonus was not immediately available.

• Left-hander Zac Fuesser, the 34th-round draft pick, turned down a scholarship from Tennessee and signed for a $125,000 bonus plus $45,000 toward college. The Pirates ramped up their efforts to sign Fuesser over the weekend, and finalized the deal Tuesday. He will be assigned to the Gulf Coast League team.

• The Diamondbacks are coming off a 2-4 road trip, which was capped by a blunder-filled, 4-3 loss Wednesday against the Rockies. After that game, D’backs pitcher Jon Garland called out his teammates: “To me, we’re going out there and playing like a last-place team. I don’t see any fight. I don’t see anybody that wants it.”

• The Pirates should have their hands full tonight against Dan Haren, who is 3-0 with a 3.56 ERA in five starts against them in his career. The right-hander has not allowed more than two earned runs in a game since May 28. He leads the league in first-pitch strike percentage. He goes 0-1 against 68 percent of batters.

• Lineups for tonight’s game:

PIRATES — 1.Andrew McCutchen cf, 2. Freddy Sanchez 2b, 3. Garrett Jones lf, 4. Ryan Doumit c, 5. Steve Pearce 1b, 6. Delwyn Young rf, 7. Andy LaRoche 3b, 8. Jack Wilson ss, 9. Charlie Morton (2-2, 3.21) rhp

DIAMONDBACKS — 1. Stephen Drew ss, 2. Parra lf, 3. Upton rf, 4. Mark Reynolds 3b, 5. Montero c, 6. Young cf, 7. Whitesell 1b, 8. Ojeda 2b, 9. Dan Haren (10-5, 1.96) rhp

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Wilson out with sore hamstring

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It’s a much nicer night at PNC Park. The first pitch between and Pirates and the Brewers is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

The Pirates beat the Brewers on Monday night for the first time in 18 games, and they’ll go for two in a row tonight.

It’ll be interesting to see if there will be carryover from last night’s eighth-inning, bench-clearing scurry. The Pirates don’t expect there to be, and they were taken by surprise last night when pitcher Chris Smith hit Jeff Karstens. That pitch appeared to be retaliation from an incident that occurred in April when Ryan Braun claimed Karstens hit him intentionally.

In other news, Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson will not be in the lineup tonight. He tweaked his hamstring on that fantastic play he made in the second inning of last night’s game. He’s day-to-day and could be back as soon as tomorrow afternoon.

Here are tonight’s lineups:

BREWERS — 1. Felipe Lopez 2b, 2. Craig Counsel 3b, 3. Ryan Braun lf, 4. Prince Fielder 1b, 5. Mike Cameron cf, 6. Corey Hart rf, 7. J.J. Hardy ss, 8. Jason Kendall c, 9. Braden Looper rhp.

PIRATES — 1.Andrew McCutchen cf, 2. Freddy Sanchez 2b, 3. Garrett Jones lf, 4. Ryan Doumit c, 5. Adam LaRoche 1b, 6. Delwyn Young rf, 7. Andy LaRoche 3b, 8. Ramon Vazquez ss, 9. Virgil Vasquez rhp.

— Tricia Lafferty

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Pouring in PNC

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If you’ve looked out your window, you’d know why we’re in a rain delay at PNC Park. The first pitch between the Pirates and Milwaukee Brewers was scheduled for 7:05 p.m.. Obviously, that hasn’t happened.

It’s coming down pretty hard and thunder and lightning was striking often. That has slowed down a bit. The tarp has been on the field since the rain started coming down at around 5:30 p.m.

There’s no word of if/when this game will get going. I’ll post an update as soon as I hear something.

By the way, this is Tricia Lafferty here filling in for Rob Biertempfel for this series.

Now on to the lineups, if this game is played tonight.

BREWERS — 1. Craig Counsel 2b, 2. Mike Cameron cf, 3. Ryan Braun lf, 4. Prince Fielder 1b, 5. Casey McGehee 3b, 6. Corey Hart rf, 7. J.J. Hardy ss, 8. Jason Kendall c, 9. Mike Burns rhp.

PIRATES — 1.Andrew McCutchen cf, 2. Freddy Sanchez 2b, 3. Garrett Jones lf, 4. Ryan Doumit c, 5. Adam LaRoche 1b, 6. Delwyn Young rf, 7. Andy LaRoche 3b, 8. Jack Wilson ss, 9. Ross Ohlendorf rhp.

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MLB slows Bucs’ talks with draft picks

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GM Neal Huntington said contract talks with several of the team’s unsigned draft picks “have hit a little bit of a wall.” Some of the turbulence is coming from the commissioner’s office, which is unhappy the Pirates want to pay over slot. “(MLB) can’t stop us from doing it, but there is a process we’re trying to be respectful of,” Huntington said.” We still feel optimistic we’re going to get these deals done. It’s going to cost us some dollars and those dollars might end up costing us another player who we can’t sign.”

The Pirates have until Aug. 17 to sign draft picks, but Huntington wants to have most, if not all, of the deals done well in advance. “Typically, the players have believe that if you wait until 11:59 p.m. (at the deadline), you get more money,” he said. “Because of our process this year, because we’ve given ourself so many options, we’re not locked into just two, three or four players. We want to move well before the Aug. 17 deadline. If Player A won’t sign for what we believe is his value, we’re going to go to Player B and Player C. We won’t be held hostage by any single player.”

The contract offer to Miguel Sano, the top amateur player in the Dominican Republic, will not affect the budget for draft picks. “We’re still approaching those as if they’re independent entities,” Huntington said. “We’ve got a fixed dollar figure for the draft and we’re going to try to maximize that. We’ve got a fixed figure for international (signings). A Sano contract would be an exemption that Bob (Nutting) has given the ability to pursue.”

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Contract talks stall, perhaps for good

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Contract negotiations between the Pirates and infielders Freddy Sanchez and Jack Wilson are at a standstill — and might be over.

The Pirates made Sanchez an offer of $10 million for 2010-11, provided he give up his $8.5 million option for next season. Wilson was offered a two-year, $8 million deal with a club option for 2012.

A firm “No” was the only response from both players.

“We’ve not received a counteroffer, so in our minds, they’re not interested in even the foundation that we’ve laid,” general manager Neal Huntington said Sunday. “Typically in a negotiation, you get a counteroffer. That’s how conversations continue.”

Neither Pade Odle, Wilson’s agent, nor Paul Cobbe, Sanchez’s agent, returned phone calls and text messages from the Tribune-Review.

Huntington said the “foundations” of the two offers — the years and dollar amounts — are non-negotiable.

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Confidence in Capps

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Matt Capps has endured turbulent ninth innings in his past two outings. Last night, he gave up back-to-back singles to start the inning, but escaped unscathed to nail down his 20th save. A week earlier against Philly, Capps yielded five runs, including a pair of homers, and took the loss.

Anxious grumbling at the start of the ninth last ninth last night turned to outright boos, but Capps still got the job done against the Giants. This morning, manager John Russell gave his closer a vote of confidence: “People may say, ‘Aw, he struggled in the first half,’ but this guy is going to be out there for us in the ninth inning. He’s going to close a lot of games for us, and we have a lot of confidence in that. It’s tough to be perfect. He has the mental makeup to (close) and everybody expects him to be out there in the ninth. And he will be.”

• Lineups for tonight’s game:

GIANTS — 1. Aaron Rowand cf, 2. Randy Winn lf, 3. Pablo Sandoval 3b, 4. Bengie Moilina c, 5. Nate Schierholtz rf, 6. Edgar Renteria ss, 7. John Bowker 1b, 8. Kevin Frandsen 2b, 9. Matt Cain (10-2, 2.38) rhp

PIRATES — 1.Andrew McCutchen cf, 2. Freddy Sanchez 2b, 3. Garrett Jones lf, 4. Ryan Doumit c, 5. Adam LaRoche 1b, 6. Brandon Moss rf, 7. Andy LaRoche 3b, 8. Jack Wilson ss, 9. Zach Duke (8-8, 3.29) lhp

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