Young in leadoff spot again


PHILADELPHIA — Delwyn Young is back in the leadoff spot tonight. Monday, Young hit batted for just the seventh time in his career. He began the game with a solo homer, his first in the No. 1 spot in the order, off Kyle Kendrick.

“It didn’t go completely well today, we ended up losing,” Young said, “but I got on a few times and tried to make something happen.”

In the fifth, Young grounded out, which enabled Ronny Cedeno to score from third. Young reached on an error with one out in the eighth, but was stranded at second.

Young is a .252 hitter (474 plate appearances) as a starter and bats .301 (136 plate appearances) as a sub. But, understandably, he doesn’t want those stats to forever cast him as a bench player.

“Pinch-hitting, you don’t have the number of at-bats that you do as when you start,” he said. “So, it should be lopsided. But I’m not really worried about that, because every day it starts over.”

— Outfield prospect Starling Marte had successful surgery Tuesday to remove the hook of the hamate bone in his left hand. No tendon damage was detected. Marte is expected to miss 8-10 weeks.

— Triple-A Indianapolis’ game against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre at 11 a.m. Wednesday will be televised by MLB Network.

— Right-hander Bryan Morris will make his first start for Double-A Altoona on Friday at Erie.

Lineups for tonight’s game:

Pirates (16-21) — 1. Delwyn Young 2b, 2. Lastings Milledge lf, 3. Andrew McCutchen cf, 4. Garrett Jones rf, 5. Ryan Church rf, 6. Ryan Doumit c, 7. Andy LaRoche 3b, 8. Ronny Cedeno ss, 9. Zach Duke (2-4, 5.56) lhp

Phillies (23-13) — 1. Shane Victorino cf, 2. Placido Polanco 2b, 3. Jimmy Rollins ss, 4. Ryan Howard 1b, 5. Jayson Werth rf, 6. Ben Francisco lf, 7. Carlos Ruiz c, 8. Juan Castro 2b, 9. Roy Halladay (6-1, 1.59) rhp


Strickland, Black promoted


PHILADELPHIA — Right-hander Hunter Strickland today was promoted to Class A Bradenton, where he will fill the rotation spot vacated by Bryan Morris, who was sent to Double-A Altoona.

Strickland was acquired July 22 from the Red Sox in the Adam LaRoche deal. At West Virginia this year, he went 0-4 with a 5.86 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP. He had eight walks and 15 strikeouts in 43 innings.

“Hunter is advanced physically and mentally,” farm director Kyle Stark said. “Our focus with him at this point is … to solidify the delivery. He has made strides and continues to accept new challenges. He is in the process of understanding what type of pitcher he most likely will be so that must be married with the delivery adjustments. He has had some good outings this spring, but has been hurt by the big inning.”

Taking Strickland’s place at West Virginia is righty Victor Black, who had been on State College’s roster. Black, 21, was a supplemental-round pick in the 2009 draft.

– Neil Walker continues to rake. He has 13 extra-base hits this month, tops in the Triple-A International League. Walker also is tied for second in all of the minors with 16 doubles.

– A rare Honus Wagner T206 baseball card proof strip, valued at more than $250,000, will be on display here at Citizens Bank Park through tomorrow’s game. The proof strip will be auctioned in July as part of the All-Star FanFest.

– The Pirates have lost their past five games at Citizens Bank Park and 10 of their past 11 overall here. .. The Bucs’ last victory here Aug. 8, 2008 — a 2-0 win in 12 innings. T.J. Beam was the winning pitcher. Craig Hansen got the save. … Garrett Jones homered in all three games here last season.

Lineups for tonight’s game:

Pirates (16-21) – 1. Delwyn Young 2b, 2. Andy LaRoche 3b, 3. Andrew McCutchen cf, 4. Garrett Jones rf, 5. Ryan Church lf, 6. Ryan Doumit c, 7. Jeff Clement 1b, 8. Ronny Cedeno ss, 9. Charlie Morton (1-6, 9.19) rhp

Phillies (23-13) – 1. Shane Victorino cf, 2. Placido Polanco 2b, 3. Jimmy Rollins ss, 4. Ryan Howard 1b, 5. Jayson Werth rf, 6. Raul Ibanez lf, 7. Greg Dobbs 3b, 8. Carlos Ruiz c, 9. Kyle Kendrick (1-1, 5.89) rhp


Morris promoted to Double-A Altoona


CHICAGO — Right-hander Bryan Morris today was promoted to Double-A Altoona. If he pitches as well there as he did at Class A Bradenton, Morris might get up to Triple-A Indianapolis by season’s end.

Morris went 3-0 with a 0.60 ERA in eight starts (44.2 innings, 37 hits, seven walks, 40 strikeouts) for Bradenton.

“If he can sustain what he’s doing, he might be able to jump another level (to Indy) by August,” GM Neal Huntington said this afternoon on his weekly radio show. “He’s really made great strides.”

Morris, 23, was an integral part of the Jason Bay trade in July 2008. He missed the 2007 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, then pitched at the low-A level in 2008.

Last season, Morris went 4-9 with a 5.57 ERA for Class A Lynchburg.

— Huntington again downplayed the possibility of the Pirates taking junior college catcher Bryce Harper in the draft.

“We don’t feel he’s clearly the No. 1 (pick),” Huntington said. “But if he is No. 1 on our board when it’s our turn, we will select him.”

The Pirates have the second overall pick in the draft, which begins June 7. Harper, who was dubbed “the LeBron James of baseball” by Sports Illustrated, is advised by super-agent Scott Boras.

— Today was the first time in 15 games this season the Pirates lost when leading in the sixth inning. It also snapped the Pirates’ seven-game win streak against the Cubs. … Andrew McCutchen reached base safely in 10 of 14 plate appearances in the three-game series. He batted .667 (8 for 12) with six runs, two walks, one homer and three RBI. … Before lining the game-winning RBI single in the eighth inning, Chicago’s Xavier Nady was 0 for 10 as a pinch-hitter. His previous pinch hit came July 19, 2008, while he was playing for the Pirates.


Iwamura out with tight hammy


CHICAGO — Second baseman Aki Iwamura said he expects to miss “just a couple of days” due to a strained right hamstring.

He sustained the injury Saturday when he grounded into a double play in the seventh inning. Iwamura will rest, but is not expected to go on the disabled list.

“The good thing is, I was able to stop (running) before I made it worse,” Iwamura said. “I’m very fortunate. Otherwise, I’d probably have to go on the DL.”

Iwamura went 0 for 2 in the game, but also walked twice. In the second inning, he made solid contact and drove right fielder Xavier Nady to the wall for a long out. He is batting .159, and is hitless in his past 26 at-bats.

“With the numbers I have, I don’t have time to sit down and not play,” Iwamura said. “Yesterday, when I got the walks, I started to feel like I was doing my job as the leadoff hitter better. The timing is bad to have this type of injury. It’s frustrating.”

At first, hitting coach Don Long gave Iwamura the time and space to try to figure out what he’s doing wrong at the plate. Over the past few days, however, Long has stepped in for more intense, hands-on sessions with Iwamura.

“He’s played a long time, but I don’t think he’s ever been through a tough a stretch as this,” Long said. “The last couple days, the premise is he’s got to see the ball longer — he’s got to keep his eyes with the bat head longer — to give himself a chance to stay on the ball.”

Opposing pitchers have stymied Iwamura by consistently throwing him fastballs away and soft stuff down in the zone.

“The better his eyes work with the barrel of the bat, the more he can shorten his path to the ball, the more consistent and harder contact he’ll make,” Long said.

– The Pirates have a real problem with the leadoff spot. With Iwamura on the bench, manager John Russell doesn’t have a ton of options to fill the top spot in the batting order.

Andrew McCutchen has the speed and the on-base-ability to do the job, but he has really blossomed in the No. 3 spot. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to take him out now.

Ronny Cedeno? He has some speed, but doesn’t get on base a lot (.267 on-base percentage).

Today, Lastings Milledge is in the role. Milledge has batted leadoff seven times in his career, and has hit .172 (5 for 29) with a .250 OBP.

“It’s not easy to plug a guy into the leadoff spot,” Russell said. “There’s just not too many of those guys around. You look at what you have and try to balance it as best you can.”

Lineups for this afternoon’s game:

Pirates (16-20) –i 1. Lastings Milledge lf, 2. Andy LaRoche 3b, 3. Andrew McCutchen cf, 4. Ryan Church rf, 5. Ryan Doumit c, 6. Steve Pearce 1b, 7. Bobby Crosby 2b, 8. Ronny Cedeno ss, 9. Ross Ohlendorf (0-1, 3.00) rhp

Cubs (15-22) – 1. Kosuke Fukudome rf, 2. Starlin Castro ss, 3. Derrek Lee 1b, 4. Aramis Ramirez 3b, 5. Marlon Byrd cf, 6. Alfonso Soriano lf, 7. Mike Fontenot 2b, 5. 8. Geovany Soto c, 9. Ted Lilly (1-3, 4.88) lhp


OF prospect Marte might need surgery


CHICAGO — Starling Marte, one of the Pirates’ top outfielder prospects, will see a specialist Monday to determine if he needs surgery on his left hand.

“It’s a hamate (bone) injury,” Farm director Kyle Start said via e-mail. “Though it’s probably not season-ending if he has surgery.”

Marte is hitting .283 with 12 RBI for Class A Bradenton. He was forced to leave the Marauders’ April 14 game against Jupiter after being hit by a pitch on the left hand.

Increasingly bothered by pain in his hand, Marte has not played since May 10.

Marte, 21, was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2007, and spent two seasons in the Dominican Summer League. Last year, he hit a combined .318 with 35 RBI and 24 stolen bases for low A West Virginia and Class A Lynchburg.


McCutchen continues to dazzle


CHICAGO — Sometimes, it’s hard to believe Andrew McCutchen hasn’t yet reached the one-year anniversary of his callup to the majors.

Friday, McCutchen went 5 for 5 with five runs scored in the 10-6 rout of the Cubs. He became the first Pirate to have five or more hits and score at least five runs in a game since Rennie Stennett went 7 for 7 with five runs on Sept. 16, 1975. Stennett did that feat right here at Wrigley Field.

McCutchen, 23, has been immune so far from the slumps that have ailed practically everyone in the lineup.

“He’s so dynamic in so many ways,” manager John Russell said. “There are a lot of factors involved, but the main factor is just the kind of guy he is. He’s got a great head on his shoulders and handles adversity and success very well. He handles (the media), the fans. He’s a very level-headed young man.”

— Maybe it’s something about the Friendly Confines that brings out the best in guys. Garrett Jones, who lives in southern suburb Tinley Park, is hitting .588 (10 for 17) with 10 RBI in four games this season against the Cubbies.

— Steve Pearce (knee) said he would be able to pinch hit — but would need a pinch runner — if needed in today’s game.

— Infielder Bobby Crosby, who’s rocking a Fu Manchu mustache, was the target of some good-natured kidding this morning in the clubhouse. Did Crosby grow the ‘stache after losing a bet? “Nah, just got bored,” he said, grinning.

Lineups for this afternoon’s game:

Pirates (14-20) — 1. Aki Iwamura 2b, 2. Andy LaRoche 3b, 3. Andrew McCutchen cf, 4. Garrett Jones rf, 5. Ryan Church lf, 6. Ryan Doumit c, 7. Jeff Clement 1b, 8. Ronny Cedeno ss, 9. Paul Maholm (2-3, 4.61) lhp

Cubs (15-20) — 1. Ryan Theriot 2b, 2. Marlon Byrd cf, 3. Derrek Lee 1b, 4. Aramis Ramirez 3b, 5. Geovany Soto c, 6. Alfonso Soriano lf, 7. Xavier Nady rf, 5. 8. Starlin Castro ss, 9. Ryan Dempster (2-3, 3.44) rhp


Good news for Pearce


CHICAGO — The MRI exam results on Steve Pearce’s sore right knee were negative, meaning there does not appear to be any significant structural damage. His status is day to day.

Pearce left today’s game against the Chicago Cubs in the sixth inning after he felt a pop in the knee while running to second base. Pearce tested the knee on the field and tried to remain in the game, then took himself out. He was examined at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and was not available for comment.


Another HOF for Clemente


CHICAGO — Roberto Clemente will be among 25 inaugural inductees to the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame. The induction will be May 29 in the Dominican Republic. Also among the honorees are Juan Marichal, Luis Aparicio, Rod Carew, Orlando Cepeda, Roberto Alomar and David Concepcion.

— Courtesy of the stat-finders at Elias: Only three times this season has one MLB team gotten 14 or more hits than its opponent in a game. Twice, the team on the short end has been the Pirates.

— Pedro Alvarez’s 17 RBI in nine games from April 30 to May 9 were the most in all of pro baseball. During that run, Alvarez hit .323 with two doubles, a triple, three homers and a .400 OBP. Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier was second with 15 RBI in the same span. From April 28 to May 9, Jose Tabata led all major and minor leaguers with 18 runs scored. Tabata had a .500 OPB during his streak.

— From April 23 to May 12, the bullpen at Triple-A Indy put up a 2.83 ERA. The relievers notched two victories and nine saves in that span. In 57 1/3 innings, they amassed 51 strikeouts. Of the nine relievers who pitched during that period, five — Vinnie Chulk, Mike Dubee, Erik Kratz (the catcher made an emergency appearance and got a save in a 15-inning game), Wil Ledezma and Justin Thomas — did not allow a run.

— Class A State College will give away a combined Tony Sanchez/Daniel Moskos bobblehead Aug. 4. Sanchez and Moskos are the only Pirates’ first-round draft picks who have played for the Spikes.

Lineups for this afternoon’s game:

Pirates (14-20) – 1. Aki Iwamura 2b, 2. Andy LaRoche 3b, 3. Andrew McCutchen cf, 4. Garrett Jones rf, 5. Ryan Doumit c, 6. Lastings Milledge lf, 7. Steve Pearce 1b, 8. Ronny Cedeno ss, 9. Brian Burres (2-1, 4.09) lhp

Cubs (15-20) – 1. Ryan Theriot 2b, 2. Marlon Byrd cf, 3. Derrek Lee 1b, 4. Xavier Nady rf, 5. Aramis Ramirez 3b, 6. Alfonso Soriano lf, 7. Geovany Soto c, 8. Starling Castro ss, 9. Tom Gorzelanny (1-4, 2.83) lhp




Looks like the ballpark crowd is going to made up entirely of school kids for today’s “businessman’s special.” Wish I’d gotten to go on field trips to watch baseball when I was in school! But that was a loooong time ago.

Anyhow, here are the lineups for the Bucs and Reds today:
Aki 4
Crosby 6
Mccutchen 8
Jones 9
Pearce 3
Milledge 7
Laroche 5
Jaramillo 2
Duke 1

And for the Reds…
Cabrera 6
Phillips 4
Votto 3
Rolen 5
Gomes 7
Bruce 9
Stubbs 8
Hanigan 2
Bailey 1


Cedeno injures wrist, status uncertain


Ronny Cedeno will be re-examined Wednesday morning to determine if his left wrist was fractured by one of Johnny Cueto’s fastballs.

In the sixth inning, Cedeno was hit on the left wrist. Thinking his wrist was broken Cedeno slammed his batting helmet as he was examined by a trainer.

Cedeno remained in the game and made two putouts over the final three innings. His wrist was heavily wrapped after the game and he will be re-examined tomorrow.

“I hope it’s not broken, but we don’t know yet for sure,” Cedeno said.

Cedeno had the Pirates’ lone hit in the game against Cueto, a one-out single in the third inning. After being hit in the sixth, Cedeno was thrown out trying to steal second base.

— Right-hander Hayden Penn, who had been in extended spring training, was added to the roster at Triple-A Indianapolis and started last night’s game against Rochester. Penn pitched six innings and allowed three runs on eight hits and struck out six.

General manager Neal Huntington said Penn, who was a reliever during his brief stint with the Pirates in April, will remain in Indy’s starting rotation.