Pirates will own new Bradenton club

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Some of the Pirates’ minor league affiliates — such as the low-A State College Spikes and Double-A Altoona Curve — are owned by private investors.

However, the Pirates will become the sole owners of their Class A club when they purchase the Sarasota franchise from the Cincinnati Reds and relocate it to Bradenton, Fla.

“Many, but not all, of the (Class A) Florida State League clubs are owned by major league clubs,” Pirates president Frank Coonelly said Thursday. The reason, Coonelly explained, is that many FSL teams use their parent clubs’ spring training sites as their home fields.

FSL president Chuck Murphy said the league will vote Nov. 10 to approve the Pirates’ plan.

“I don’t expect any problems (with the vote),” Murphy said.

The Pirates’ new Class A team will play at McKechnie Field. Two years ago, the city of Bradenton helped pay up the tab for several renovations at the ballpark, including the installation of lights. Without those lights, it would be impossible for the ballpark to play host to a slate of 70 home games in a Class A season.

In essence, the Pirates and Reds are swapping their high-A teams. The Reds will become the parent club with Lynchburg, which is ending a 15-year affiliation with the Pirates.

The Pirates have been trying for years to get a minor league club in Bradenton.

“The biggest advantage is, we’ll have our high-A team where the hub of our development (program) is located,” Coonelly said.

The new Class A team will not be called the Pirates. The team nickname will be revealed during a Nov. 11 press conference in Bradenton.

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Pirates ‘very close’ to new Class A team deal

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This afternoon, the Pirates confirmed my report in today’s Pittsburgh Trib that they are in the process of moving their high Class A team from Lynchburg, Va., to Bradenton, Fla. Here is the complete e-mail statement from team president Frank Coonelly:

“We are very close to finalizing the purchase of the Florida State League team located in Sarasota and moving the team to Bradenton where the club would play its home games at McKechnie Field.   We will not be able to make a formal announcement of the purchase and move to Bradenton until the Florida State League votes on the proposed transaction at its meetings in two weeks.

“We are extremely excited about the prospect of bringing a High-A Club to Bradenton.  Neal Huntington, our General Manager, and Kyle Stark, our Director of Player Development, requested that we consider the purchase in order to further enhance our development of minor league players by having our High-A team work in Bradenton where members of our development staff spend much of their time and where, thanks to our great partnership with the city of Bradenton, we have such outstanding facilities.  Our Chairman, Bob Nutting, immediately embraced the project and approved this latest investment in our core baseball operations structure.

“If completed, the move will allow us to take even greater advantage of McKechnie Field and our new Pirate City facilities.  In addition to the benefits to our minor league players and our development staff, the move of our High-A team to Bradenton would allow us to have rehabbing Major League players begin their return to work in Bradenton where we have our rehab coordinator and rehab facilities.

“By bringing 70 games to McKechnie in the summer, we will also deepen the Pirates commitment to the City of Bradenton by having a year-round baseball and community presence.   Mayor Wayne Poston and the City of Bradenton have been incredibly supportive and are excited about the prospects of adding a full-season Florida State League club to the many entertainment options available in the city.

“While the benefits to the Pirates and our partner, the City of Bradenton, were compelling, we will be sad to leave the Lynchburg Hillcats with whom we have had a tremendously productive relationship for the last 15 years.  President Calvin Falwell, General Manager Paul Sunwall and Assistant General Manager Ronnie Roberts are dedicated baseball men and the Lynchburg community is a great baseball town that has welcomed our players, coaches and staff into its community with open arms.”

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Yates elects for free agency

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The Pirates requested outright waivers on reliever Tyler Yates, who then opted for free agency. Yates missed most of last season after having reconstructive elbow surgery.

Yates pitched in 87 games after the Pirates acquired him in a trade with Atlanta a week before the start of the 2008 season. This past season, the right-hander worked in 15 games, going 0-2 with a 7.50 ERA. He had Tommy John surgery in July — his second such procedure in seven years — and ended the season on the disabled list.

There are 38 players on the 40-man roster, plus pitchers Evan Meek and Jose Ascanio, who both are on the 60-day disabled list.

— The Pirates will hold a blood drive from noon to 7 p.m. Wednesday in the press conference room at PNC Park. There will be limited free parking in the lot across the street from the media entrance on General Robinson Street. All donors will receive a gift from the Pirates.

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BA tabs McCutchen as majors’ top rookie

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Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen today was named major league rookie of the year by Baseball America.

McCutchen hit .286 with 26 doubles, 12 homers, 54 RBI and 22 stolen bases in 108 games. He led National League rookies with 47 extra-base hits and ranked second in multi-hit games, runs, walks and total bases.

A first-round draft pick in 2005, McCutchen is expected to be among the top finishers in MLB’s Rookie of the Year voting, which will be announced after the World Series.

Garrett Jones was named to Baseball America’s all-rookie team as a first baseman. In 82 games, Jones batted .293 with 21 homers and 44 RBI. He led all rookies in home runs and slugging percentage (.567).

— Jason Bay spoke with Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald after the Red Sox were swept out of the playoffs. Bay will be a free agent this offseason and would like to return to the Sox. His comments indicate why he — and most other free agents — might have practically zero incentive to sign with the Pirates.

“I guess you could say that my time in Boston has revived my love for baseball,” Bay said. “I had a great time in Pittsburgh and I enjoyed my time there. But I was here for a year and a half and I got a chance to go to the playoffs two years in a row.

“It’s not that I hated baseball before I came here. But sometimes it became work. Sometimes you’re not doing well, you come to the park and it becomes a job. But coming in here, surrounded by good hitters in the lineup and great guys in the clubhouse, it really made baseball fun again.”

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One last time in ’09

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CINCINNATI — Lineups for this afternoon’s season finale:

PIRATES (62-98)

  1. Andrew McCutchen cf
  2. Andy LaRoche 3b
  3. Garrett Jones 1b
  4. Lastings Milledge lf
  5. Brandon Moss rf
  6. Delwyn Young 2b
  7. Robinzon Diaz c
  8. Luis Cruz ss
  9. Jeff Karstens (4-5, 5.37) rhp

REDS (77-84)

  1. Drew Stubbs cf
  2. Paul Janish ss
  3. Joey Votto 1b
  4. Brandon Phillips 2b
  5. Scott Rolen 3b
  6. Jay Bruce rf
  7. Lance Nix lf
  8. Corky Miller c
  9. Homer Bailey (7-5, 4.78) rhp
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Duke struggles; Doumit ‘woozy’

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Zach Duke struggled in his final start of the season Saturday, as the Pirates lost, 8-4, against the Cincinnati Reds.

Duke (11-16) worked five innings and gave up five runs on six hits. He walked five, one shy of his career high, and struck out two.

“My fastball command wasn’t very good tonight,” Duke said. “I worked behind in the count too much.”

Duke finished tied with Ross Ohlendorf for the team lead in victories, but also leads the National League in losses.

“I’m pretty proud of the work I did this year,” Duke said. “The numbers have falled off of late, and that’s kind of frustrating. But I feel like I gave this team a chance to win more times that not when I was on the mound. For a starting pitcher, that’s what it’s all about.”

The Pirates took a 1-0 lead in the first inning against Johnny Cueto (11-11). Andrew McCutchen walked and scored on Andy LaRoche’s double.

The Reds tied it in the second went ahead with one run in the third and three in the fourth.

In the sixth inning, Delwyn Young hit a three-run homer to pull the Pirates within 5-4. It was Young’s first home run since Aug. 18.

Cincinnati pulled away in the sixth by scoring two runs off reliever Chris Bootcheck.

Righty reliever Anthony Claggett made his Pirates debut in the eighth. He is the 49th player and 26th pitcher the team has used this year, both club records. Claggett served up Votto’s solo homer.

· Catcher Ryan Doumit sat out tonight’s game and most likely will not play Sunday due to concussion-like symptons. Doumit took a foul ball off his mask in Friday’s game. “It doesn’t seem to be (a major injury), but there’s some wooziness,” manager John Russell said.

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Moss at crossroads

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CINCINNATI — It appears that Brandon Moss will head into next year as the incumbent right fielder. But during Moss’ “exit meeting” with manager John Russell and GM Neal Huntington, it was made clear that he still has a lot of work to do to establish job security.

“He realizes the opportunity he got this year, and also realizes he really didn’t take advantage of it,” manager John Russell said. “He knows this is a very important offseason for him.

“We told him the opportunity might not be as large next time. He understood that and agreed with it. We’re not trying to put pressure on Brandon — he doesn’t have to hit .450 in spring training — but we want to see some adjustments (at the plate). It’s kind of a crossroads for him.”

With Jose Tabata and Gorkys Hernandez on their ways up and Andrew McCutchen and Lastings Milledge playing well, there might not be room for Moss in the Pirates’ outfield. His future probably includes a pinch-hitter role, which might not be such a bad thing, considering he’s gotten five hits in his past nine pinch at-bats.

Coming off the bench, this season Moss is batting .257 (9 for 35) with a homer and five RBI. For his career, Moss has a better OPS off the bench (.756) than as a starter (.689).

– Follow me on Twitter @RobBiertempfel.

Lineups for tonight’s game:

PIRATES (62-97)

  1. Andrew McCutchen cf
  2. Andy LaRoche 3b
  3. Garrett Jones 1b
  4. Lastings Milledge lf
  5. Brandon Moss rf
  6. Delwyn Young 2b
  7. Jason Jaramillo c
  8. Ramon Vazquez ss
  9. Zach Duke (11-15, 3.94) lhp

REDS (76-84)

  1. Drew Stubbs cf
  2. Paul Janish ss
  3. Joey Votto 1b
  4. Brandon Phillips 2b
  5. Scott Rolen 3b
  6. Jonny Gomes rf
  7. Darnell McDonald lf
  8. Ramon Hernandez c
  9. Johnny Cueto (10-11, 4.35) rhp

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Win No. 1 means no loss No. 100

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Daniel McCutchen picked up his first major-league victory Friday, as the Pirates nipped the Cincinnati Reds, 3-1.

The rookie right-hander worked 6.1 innings and allowed one run on four hits. McCutchen walked two and struck out five.

McCutchen (1-2) was winless in his first five starts after being called up Aug. 31 from Triple-A Indianapolis.

“It shouldn’t have taken six,” McCutchen said. “But the sixth time is a charm, I guess.”

The Pirates have won five of their past six games and improved to 62-97. With two games left in the season, they cannot lose 100 games.

Reds right-hander Justin Lehr (5-3) began the third inning by walking Daniel McCutchen on five pitches. Andrew McCutchen doubled to center, moving Daniel McCutchen to third.

Andy LaRoche shot a single down the third base line, scoring both McCutchens. LaRoche was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double.

In the fourth, Lastings Milledge knocked a solo homer to left. It was his fourth home run of the season, his first on the road.

Milledge also made an outstanding defensive play in the sixth inning.

With Paul Janish on second and none out, Joey Votto hit a fly ball which sliced toward the left field corner. On an all-out sprint, Milledge snagged the ball then quickly got it back to the infield so Janish could not tag up.

“Great, great catch,” Daniel McCutchen said. “That’s a game-changer. If it falls, it’s a double and run scored.”

Daniel McCutchen lost his shutout in the seventh. With one out, Wladimir Balentien crushed a 467-foot solo homer to left field.

It was the first homer allowed by a Pirates pitcher in 50 innings. It also snapped the Reds’ scoreless streak at 20.1 innings.

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Ascanio has surgery

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CINCINNATI — Today, Dr. James Andrews performed arthroscopic surgery to repair the labrum in Jose Ascanio’s right shoulder. General manager Neal Huntington said there is no timetable for when Ascanio will get back on the mound or if he will be ready for the start of spring training.

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Karstens to start Sunday; Hill on video

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CINCINNATI — Jeff Karstens will start Sunday’s season finale against the Reds. Karstens threw 61 pitches in five innings Wednesday in the nightcap against the Cubs, so don’t expect him to go too deep into Sunday’s game.

— Manager John Russell wanted righty Kevin Hart to start Sunday, but Hart is bothered by what appears to be a strained rib cage. “He could probably pitch with it, but we’re not going to push it,” Russell said.

— There was a pretty good indication today that infield instructor/first base coach Perry Hill will not be back in 2010. Five hours before the game, Hill was on the field at Great American Ball Park with coaches Gary Varsho, Tony Beasley and Don Long and bullpen catcher Heberto Andreade.

Varsho ran a video camera as Hill went through his coaching techniques at each infield position. The Pirates now have a library of info they can use when Hill is no longer with the team … say, next season.

Hill is the only member of the coaching staff whose status is in limbo. He’s already told the Pirates he does not want to return — he is unhappy with the purge of veteran players from the roster — though the team has tried to persuade him to reconsider. A formal announcement of Hill’s final decision is expected as early as Monday.

— Ronny Cedeno still is bothered by a sore right hamstring, and likely will not play in any of these final three games.

— Follow me on Twitter @RobBiertempfel.

Lineups for tonight’s game:

PIRATES (61-97)

  1. Andrew McCutchen cf
  2. Andy LaRoche 3b
  3. Garrett Jones 1b
  4. Ryan Doumit c
  5. Lastings Milledge lf
  6. Brandon Moss rf
  7. Delwyn Young 2b
  8. Ramon Vazquez ss
  9. Daniel McCutchen (0-2, 4.80)

REDS (76-83)

  1. Drew Stubbs cf
  2. Paul Janish ss
  3. Joey Votto 1b
  4. Brandon Phillips 2b
  5. Scott Rolen 3b
  6. Jay Bruce rf
  7. Wladimir Balentien lf
  8. Craig Tatum c
  9. Justin Lehr (5-2, 5.46)

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