KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Anthony Claggett, Jack Taschner and Javier Lopez will pitch in relief roles today against the Astros. Claggett is ticketed for Triple-A, Lopez is a lock for the Pirates’ bullpen. Taschner, who has racked up 12 strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings, also is near-certain to head north with the team next week.
Ramon Vazquez gets the start at third base. Despite being the sixth-highest paid Pirate ($2 million), his chances of making the team are practically nil. With little trade value, he’ll most likely be released at the end of next week. Until then, the Pirates will hang onto him as insurance against a devastating injury to Bobby Crosby, Ronny Cedeno or another infielder. It’s a tough break for Vazquez, who’d face a tougher road latching on with another team as a free agent.
It was a looooong, boring drive here from Bradenton, and the Pirates arrived to discover a muddy field after last night’s drenching thunderstorms. But the skies already are clearing and the temp is supposed to reach the upper 70s.
Lineups for this afternoon’s game:
Pirates: 1. John Raynor cf, 2. Delwyn Young 2b, 3. Lastings Milledge lf, 4. Garrett Jones rf, 5. Jeff Clement 1b, 6. Bobby Crosby ss, 7. Ramon Vazquez 3b, 8. Jason Jaramillo c, 9. Zach Duke lhp.
Astros: 1. T.J. Steele cf, 2. Jeff Keppinger 2b, 3. Jason Michaels rf, 4. Carlos Lee lf, 5. Geoff Blum 1b, 6. Pedro Feliz 3b, 7. Edwin Maysonet ss, 8. Humberto Quintero c, 9. Roy Oswalt rhp