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Pirates-Brewers pre-game notes

· General manager Neal Huntington met with reporters to discuss the 2009 draft signings. He said the total signing bonuses for 23 players, including each of the top 14-picks in the 50-round draft, was just shy of $9 million. There were three other players who were close to signing, but it didn’t work out for various reasons, and another half-dozen or so targeted draft picks in which there was on-going discussions but “nothing that got close” to both parties agreeing on value, Huntington said.

· Ryan Doumit, hitting .212 since returning from a broken wrist, was dropped to No. 5 in the lineup. Andy LaRoche is batting clean-up for the first time this year. Manager John Russell said he hopes dropping Doumit from the clean-up spot for the first time this year will help his relax at the plate.

“I think he’s been really pushing,” Russell said. “He’s trying to do too much. The biggest thing is to get him relaxed.”

· Russell plans to keep Lastings Milledge in the lower portion of the lineup, primarily because he seems more relaxed and the current top of the order — Andrew McCutchen, Delwyn Young and Garrett Jones — are comfortable and hitting well in those spots.

“We’ll see how it works out,” Russell said. “It seems like when we’ve moved (Milledge) down, he’s a little more relaxed.”

· Reliever Jose Ascanio (right shoulder) will be shut down for at least 10 days.

· Russell, Huntington and pitching coach Joe Kerrigan will sit down in the next couple of days and map out the inning limit for the some of the starters. The cap is roughly 20 percent more innings than last season.

· As for going with a six-man rotation, Russell said regardless of the rotation’s makeup, the Pirates will likely need six or seven starters in the final month of the season for no other reason than to accommodate a pair of doubleheaders.

— John Grupp

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