BRADENTON, Fla. — Scratch free-agent lefty Brian Fuentes off the list of relief pitcher possibilities for the Pirates.
Fuentes, 35, would have been a good fit for their bullpen. Because he has experience as a closer, he could have filled the role Octavio Dotel had last year — a stable arm at the back end of the bullpen, giving Joel Hanrahan and Evan Meek time to develop.
The Pirates were interested in Fuentes and had conversations with his agent. However, Fuentes’ asking price — he wants a two- or three-year deal worth at least $5 million a year — is too steep, and he doesn’t seem inclined to budge.
The market for middle relievers, particularly left-handers, has blown up this offseason. There’s not much left and some of the leftovers are still asking for multi-year deals. Expect the Pirates to look to their internal options — such as Scott Olsen (who’s also a candidate for the fifth starter job), Dan Moskos, Aaron Thompson and Tony Watson — to fill lefty jobs in the pen. Moskos, Thompson and Watson are slated to attend mini-camp this week.
»»» I bumped into catcher Tony Sanchez this morning in the lobby at Pirate City as he checked in for mini-camp. “Are you (media) guys here to get in shape, too?” he said, grinning.
»»» John Green was the Pirates’ farm director from 2000-01 and worked in their front office as recently as 2008. Yesterday, his 9-year-old daughter, Christina-Taylor, was among six people killed by a gunman who targeted Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Although just a third-grader, Christina-Taylor often told her family she wanted to attend Penn State and perhaps someday become a politician. She was the only girl on her Little League team, the Pirates, in Canyon del Oro, Ariz.
Green, the son of former Phillies manager Dallas Green, now works as an amateur scouting supervisor for the Dodgers. Pirates GM Neal Huntington contacted John Green to offer condolences.
»»» Ever “butt-dial” anyone — you forget to lock your cell phone and accidentally call someone when you bump the phone while it’s in your pocket? A couple of days ago, I did it to former Pirates right-hander Ian Snell. He laughed and gave me a pass when I apologized for the faux pas.
Snell is a free agent after being cut loose by the Mariners and said he might be close to signing with the Cardinals. There’s practically no chance Snell would return to the Pirates, but he did stress that he enjoyed his time here. “I always liked Pittsburgh,” Snell said. “I look at that team now, with all those young guys, and you can see it’s getting better.”