Ohlendorf update

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DENVER — Pirates right-hander Ross Ohlendorf has returned to Coors Field from Rose Hospital, where he was diagnosed with a contusion and abrasions after being struck on the head by a line drive. Results of a CT scan were negative. No futher information was immediately available.

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Ohlendorf, Iwamura hospitalized

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DENVER — Pirates right-hander Ross Ohlendorf left tonight’s game against the Colorado Rockies in the first inning after being struck on the right side of his head by a line drive.

Ohlendorf was taken to a nearby hospital for X-rays and an MRI exam. His status and test results were not immediately available.

With two outs and a runner on third base, Troy Tulowitzki hit a comebacker to the mound. Ohlendorf was following through on his delivery when the ball hit him near the temple.

It was not a soft swing by Tulowitzki. Fans sitting behind home plate in the third level of Coors Field were able to hear the sharp crack when the ball connected with Ohlendorf’s head.

Ohlendorf dropped to his knees on the mound and watched as the ball caromed into right field for an RBI single.

Ohlendorf was examined briefly on the field, as Tulowitzki squatted on first base and grimaced.

After a couple of minutes, Ohlendorf walked off the field, assisted by Pirates head athletic trainer Brad Henderson.

Ohlendorf is the second Pirates starting pitcher this season to be struck on the head by a batted ball. On April 24 in Houston, righty Chris Jakubauskas was hit by Lance Berkman’s line drive. Jakubauskas, who was struck behind the right ear and sustained a concussion and cuts, is on the 60-day disabled list.

»»» Aki Iwamura collided with the first baseman while running out an infield single in Triple-A Indianapolis’ game tonight against Syracuse. Iwamura stayed on the ground for a minute or so, then slowly walked off the field without assistance. Iwarmura was taken to a hospital for examination.

»»» After Iwamura’s hit, Indy’s next batter, Brandon Moss, hit a grand slam. It was the 17th homer of the year for Moss, who’s collected 53 RBI in his past 53 games. Indy broadcaster Scott McCauley blogged (http://indyindians.mlblogs.com/) that Moss’ power surge began when he went back to the open batting stance he used before being traded to the Pirates in 2008.

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Ohlendorf struck on head by liner

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DENVER — Pirates right-hander Ross Ohlendorf left tonigt’s game against the Rockies in the first inning after being struck on the right side of his head by a line drive.
With two outs and a runner on third base, Troy Tulowitzki hit a smash up the middle. Ohlendorf was following through on his delivery, on one leg and facing the plate, when the ball hit him near the temple.
Ohlendorf dropped to his knees on the mound and watched as the ball caromed into right field for an RBI single.
Ohlendorf was examined briefly on the field. He walked off, assisted by head athletic trainer Brad Henderson.

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Jones gets key hit

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DENVER — Last night, Garrett Jones snapped a 2-2 tie in the sixth inning with an RBI double. That gave Jones 18 go-ahead RBI this season, which is tied for seventh in the NL (Ryan Howard and Adrian Gonzalez are the co-leaders with 21 apiece).

Jones smacked the double off left-hander Jorge De La Rosa. Going back to last year, De La Rosa is holding lefty hitters to a .191 batting average. Jones has a career .220 average against southpaws, 80 points lower than his batting average against right-handers.

“He’s tough,” Jones said of De La Rosa. “He mixes splitters and sliders. I was just trying to take a nice, short, line-drive swing. He left a fastball over the plate and I got the good part of the bat on it.”

»»» Last night’s game was just the second time this year the Pirates began a road trip with a victory. A win tonight would give them back-to-back road Ws for the first time since May 14-15 at Chicago.

»»» Right-hander Derek Hankins was promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis.

»»» Short-season Class A State College added left-hander Justin Ennis (from Low-A West Virginia) and infielder Andy Vasquez (from rookie-league Bradenton). Righty Teddy Fallon was promoted to West Virginia.

»»» Today, manager John Russell, an Oklahoma native, will meet with a team from Norman, Okla., which is in Denver to play in an American Youth Baseball Alliance tournament.

Lineups for tonight’s game:

Pirates (35-64) – 1. Andrew McCutchen cf, 2. Jose Tabata lf, 3. Neil Walker 2b, 4. Garrett Jones 1b, 5. Pedro Alvarez 3b, 6. Lastings Milledge rf, Ronny Cedeno ss, 8. Erk Kratz c, 9. Ross Ohlendorf (1-8, 4.39) rhp

Rockies (51-49) – TBA Aaron Cook (4-6, 4.78) rhp

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Hernandez out 8-12 weeks

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DENVER — I emailed farm director Kyle Stark, asking about the severity of the injury to Double-A Altoona outfielder Gorkys Hernandez. Stark’s reply was succinct and grim: “Dislocation. Surgery. 8-12 weeks.”
Hernandez was injured Sunday when he was hit on the right ring finger by a pitch. The finger is fractured.
Hernandez got off to a slow start at the plate this season, but a reason 17-game hitting streak bolstered his batting average to .266. He has 17 extra-base hits and is 17 for 20 in steal attempts.

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Defense does the job

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DENVER — Left-hander Zach Duke was dominant tonight against the Rox, but don’t discount the job done by the Pirates’ defense.

A fine, and somewhat controversial, defensive play in the bottom of the sixth inning prevented a Rockies rally.

Center fielder Andrew McCutchen made a slick, running catch in deep left-center field to end the fourth inning. The play stranded a runner on second and maintained the Pirates’ two-run lead.

“Andrew is very good out there,” manager John Russell said. “He covers a lot of ground. In this ballpark, that’s nice to have because it’s deep and the ball really carries.”

With one out, Troy Tulowitzki lined a hard shot to third base. Pedro Alvarez made a sprawling stop, quickly bounced to his feet and fired off balance to first base.

The throw pulled Garrett Jones off the bag, and he seemed to miss it when he reached back with his left foot. But on his second try he caught the edge of the bag an instant before Tulowitzki got there.

It was a bang-bang play, which caused Tulowitzki to protest and Rockies manager Jim Tracy to jog out to get an explanation.

“I got him,” Jones said. “I came off the bag a little bit, went back and got it. Then I think I came off again, and then I went back and got it again. But I got him the first time.”

It started with a great diving stab by Alvarez.

“Ah, yeah, a real nice play,” Jones said. “And a good throw. Strong. He’s been making some real tough plays over there.”

In the eighth, with the Pirates up by two runs, Ryan Spilborghs led off with a shot over the head of left fielder Jose Tabata. The ball caromed toward center field, and Tabata had to rapidly reverse course, stumble and stay upright and sprint to the ball.

By this time, Spilborghs had rounded second and was chugging for third.

“I was ready,” Alvarez said. “I don’t think I was surprised he was going for third. Jose got to it pretty quick — I didn’t think he was going to get to it that quickly — and did a good job of getting it in.”

Tabata’s throw went to Cedeno, who spun and made a no-look throw to Alvarez at third.

“I knew I had to make that one perfect,” Cedeno said. “I didn’t think. Just catch the ball and throw. If you want to play this game, you can’t be scared to make those kind of plays.”

Alvarez slapped the tag and got Spilborghs. It was a huge play, considering the Rockies had their Nos. 3 and 4 hitters coming up.

»»» Too bad my 10-year-old daughter isn’t here. Tulo’s into song when he comes to the plate is “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus … or is it Hannah Montana? Whatever.

»»» At Double-A Altoona, outfielder Gorkys Hernandez went on the disabled list with a broken right ring finger. Hernandez was injured Sunday when he was hit by a pitch.

»»» Second baseman Shelby Ford was sent down to High-A Bradenton. It’s hard to believe that during spring training 2009, there was some talk of Ford becoming the starting second baseman this season. But he struggled badly — again — last season and wound up being demoted from Triple- to Double-A. Now he’s in Bradenton … never to be heard from again, I think.

»»» Wil Ledezma has pitched at PNC Park three times, but only two of them came while he was in the major leagues. In 2006, Ledezma made two outings against the Pirates as a reliever for the Detroit Tigers. In 2004, he started a game for Erie, the Tigers’ Double-A club, against Altoona at PNC Park. Ledezma out-dueled Altoona righty Ian Snell, tossing a two-hitter in Erie’s 2-0 victory

»»» This year, Pirates prospects who play in the Arizona Fall League will join the Mesa Solar Sox. The Phillies, Angels, Mets and Cubs also will help fill out Mesa’s roster. Bryan Housand, the trainer for Double-A Altoona, will be Mesa’s trainer.

»»» Looks like some extra rest did right-hander Bryan Morris a lotta good. Morris, whose last start was skipped, was lights-out Tuesday for Double-A Altoona — five scoreless innings, two hits allowed, eight strikeouts. In his previous three starts this month, Morris went 0-2 with a 9.95 ERA.

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Tracy likes Bucs’ new mix

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DENVER — The Pirates booted Jim Tracy after the 2007 season, after he posted a 135-189 record (.417) as manager. He soon latched on with the Rockies, and again has them battling for a playoff berth.

The Pirates’ roster has changed dramatically since Tracy was the skipper, and he thinks the team has a chance to become competitive.

“They some a very interesting young talent,” said Tracy, who singled out Pedro Alvarez as the most intriguing of the bunch. “There’s a real dynamic to the top of their order. What will be interesting will be to see what kind of cohesiveness there is moving forward.”

Tracy was referring to the issue that has hamstrung every Pirates manager for the past 20 years: will ownership do what it takes to keep the team together?

“It will be interesting to see if things can come to fruition for them,” Tracy said.

»»» The Rockies today designated ex-Pirates slugger Brad Eldred for assignment to clear a roster spot for Troy Tulowitzki, who came off the disabled list. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed we don’t lose (Eldred),” Tracy said. In 11 games with the Rox, Eldred hit .250 with a homer and three RBI — and also struck out 10 times in 24 at-bats.

Lineups for tonight’s game:

Pirates (34-64) – 1. Andrew McCutchen cf, 2. Jose Tabata lf, 3. Neil Walker 2b, 4. Garrett Jones 1b, 5. Pedro Alvarez 3b, 6. Lastings Milledge rf, Ronny Cedeno ss, 8. Erk Kratz c, 9. Zach Duke (4-9, 5.22) lhp

Rockies (51-48) – 1. Dexter Fowler cf, 2. Ryan Spilborghs rf, 3. Carlos Gonzalez lf, 4. Troy Tulowitski ss, 5. Melvin Mora 3b, 6. Miguel Olivo c, 7. Brad Hawpe 1b, 8. Clint Barmes 2b, 9. Jorge De La Rosa (3-2, 5.65) lhp

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Pirates ink indy league pitcher

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DENVER — The Pirates signed right-hander Travis Chick, 26, and assigned him to Triple-A Indianapolis. Chick, 26, went 5-4 with a 4.40 ERA this season for the Camden Riversharks of the independent Atlantic League. A 14th-round draft pick in 2002, Chick appeared in three games in 2006 for the Seattle Mariners and put up a 12.60 ERA.

»»» Right-hander Jose Acosta, who was pitching for the Pirates’ team in the Venezuelan Summer League, was suspended for 50 games by Major League Baseball. Acosta tested positive for the steroid Stanozolol. The Pirates signed Acosta, 18, in May. He made one appearance for the VSL Pirates and tossed 2 1/3 scoreless innings.

»»» State College right-hander Tyler Waldron was named short-season Class A New York-Penn League pitcher of the week. He threw 11 scoreless innings over two outings last week, stretching his shutout string to 14 innings. Waldron was the Pirates’ fifth-round draft pick this year out of Oregon State.

»»» West Virginia righty Phillip Irwin was named Low-A South Atlantic League pitcher of the week. He tossed seven no-hit innings Saturday against Hagerstown.

»»» Right-hander Bryan Morris, whose last start was skipped to give him extra rest, pitched last night for Double-A Altoona. In his previous three starts this month, Morris went 0-2 with a 9.95 ERA.

»»» Lefty Corey Hamman was promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis. Utilityman Jose de los Santos was sent up to Altoona.

Lineups for tonight’s game:

Pirates (34-64) – 1. Andrew McCutchen cf, 2. Jose Tabata lf, 3. Neil Walker 2b, 4. Garrett Jones 1b, 5. Pedro Alvarez 3b, 6. Lastings Milledge rf, Ronny Cedeno ss, 8. Erk Kratz c, 9. Zach Duke (4-9, 5.22) lhp

Rockies (51-48) — TBA 9. Jorge De La Rosa (3-2, 5.65) lhp

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Jackson, Ledezma called up

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DENVER — The Pirates today called up two relievers from Triple-A Indy, lefty Wil Ledezma and righty Steven Jackson. Both players will be in uniform for tonight’s game against the Rockies at Coors Field.
Ledezma, 29, has put up a dazzling 0.94 ERA. In 38 1/3 innings, he’s allowed 20 hits and 19 walks and racked up 50 strikeouts.
Jackson, who has made two stints with the Pirates already this season, went 3-0 with a 3.92 ERA at Indy. He tossed 43 2/3 innings and allowed 46 hits and 16 walks and struck out 23.
Barring a trade — the non-waiver deadline is Saturday — Jackson will go back to Triple-A this weekend and Daniel McCutchen will be recalled to start against the Cardinals. The Pirates have a vacancy in their rotation after demoting Brad Lincoln on Sunday.

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Donnelly’s parting shot

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Moments after this afternoon’s 6-3 loss against the Padres, the Pirates cleared out two ineffective pitchers. Starter Brad Lincoln (6.57 ERA) was optioned to Triple-A Indy, reliever Brendan Donnelly (5.58 ERA) was designated for assignment.
“I don’t deserve to be here right now,” Lincoln said. “I need to go down there to work on things, clear my head and get back to where I was before I got here. It’s probably the best move. For me to go out there and keep struggling is not good for me or for the team. I’m going to work on things and I’ll be back.”
Lincoln will swap places with Daniel McCutchen, who likely will be called up to start Saturday against the Cardinals. Sooner or later, Lincoln will get another shot in Pittsburgh.
Donnelly, who turned 39 on the Fourth of July, will not be back with the Pirates. Unless they can trade him — they’ve tried, but have gotten practically no interest so far — he will opt for free agency rather than accept an assignment to the minors.
“I thought I was doing what I was expected to do,” Donnelly said. “I know I was doing it with the younger guys in the clubhouse. I like to think I helped them a little bit.”
Donnelly was asked if the Pirates gave him a reason for the move.
“They’re moving forward,” he said. “That’s fine. Good luck to the players here. I don’t know what their definition of ‘moving forward’ is, but we’ll see.”
Both GM Neal Huntington and prez Frank Coonelly denied the move was made for financial reasons. “We’re still going to have to pay his $1.35 million salary,” Coonelly said.
True, but the Pirates now will not face the possibility of having to pay Donnelly up to $1.65 million in performance bonuses. Donnelly was close to triggering a $150,000 bonus (based on appearances) and would have gotten $175,000 for every five outings after that.
“Donnelly helped out and we’ll miss his veteran presence,” manager John Russell said. “But it’s time to move on.”
Evan Meek and Joel Hanrahan, who both were tutored by Donnelly since spring training, were surprised and shocked by the move.
“The Pirates gave me an opportunity to come in and work with some young guys. That’s what I did and I enjoyed it,” Donnelly said. “I wish I could’ve done more. But I do believe I achieved my goal here, which is my goal with any team — do more good than bad. I know I did that. When I see any of these guys pitch, I’ll want them to do well and I’ll be happy for them.”

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