Slow, early start to the day

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CHICAGO — Not a lot of newsy stuff this morning seeping out of the tiny visitor’s clubhouse at Wrigley Field. It’s an early (noon CT) start time, so many of the fellas were rubbing sleep out of their eyes as they arrived.

One interesting tidibt: With lefty Ted Lilly on the mound for Chicago, Chris Gomez will make his third start this year at first base.

Oh, and Damon Moss is in left field and Steve Pearce in right. You’ll be seeing a lot of that the rest of the way. The Pirates want to find out what they have in both players. What I’m hearing from the beat guys who cover the Red Sox is folks here will be pleasantly surprised by Moss. He’s a guy who really could blossom when given regular playing time.

Lineups for today’s game against Chicago:

Cubs — Not yet posted

Pirates — Rivas 2B, Wilson SS, McLouth CF, Doumit C, Andy LaRoche 3B, Pearce RF, Moss LF, Gomez 1B, Maaholm LHP
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Andy LaRoche replaces Bautista

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CHICAGO — Jose Bautista has been the Pirates’ third baseman in 252 games since 2004. No more. The Pirates are going in another direction.

“Right now, Andy LaRoche is our third baseman,” manager John Russell said this morning.

LaRoche is in the lineup batting fifth for this afternoon’s game against the Chicago Cubs. His plane landed around 10 a.m. CT, so I have not yet had a chance to talk with him. Suffice it to say, big brother Adam is beaming — even though he also grimaces every now and then because of the ribcage injury which landed him on the DL. More on those two later.

I spoke with Bautista this morning — shortly before Russell called him into the office for a private chat. But even before talking with Russell, Bautista knew what was up.

“If I end up losing playing time, it’s definitely going to affect me in some way,” Bautista said. “If I keep performing, they’ll find a spot here for me to play. If not, there will be other teams that will want me to play for them.”

Bautista stopped short of saying he’ll demand a trade.

“That’s they type of decision, I’ll have to consult my agent and see what my situation is after this season,” Bautista said. “I’m not ready to answer that question right now.”

Lineups for today’s game against Chicago:

Cubs — Soriano LF, Fukudome RF, Lee 1B, Ramirez 3B, Edmonds CF, Soto C, Fontenot 2B, Cedeno SS, Marquis RHP

Pirates — Rivas 2B, Mientkiewicz 1B, McLouth CF, Doumit C, Andy LaRoche 3B, Moss RF, Michaels LF, Wilson SS, Karstens RHP
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Andy LaRoche replaces Bautista

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CHICAGO — Jose Bautista has been the Pirates’ third baseman in 252 games since 2004. No more. The Pirates are going in another direction.

“Right now, Andy LaRoche is our third baseman,” manager John Russell said this morning.

LaRoche is in the lineup batting fifth for this afternoon’s game against the Chicago Cubs. His plane landed around 10 a.m. CT, so I have not yet had a chance to talk with him. Suffice it to say, big brother Adam is beaming — even though he also grimaces every now and then because of the ribcage injury which landed him on the DL. More on those two later.

I spoke with Bautista this morning — shortly before Russell called him into the office for a private chat. But even before talking with Russell, Bautista knew what was up.

“If I end up losing playing time, it’s definitely going to affect me in some way,” Bautista said. “If I keep performing, they’ll find a spot here for me to play. If not, there will be other teams that will want me to play for them.”

Bautista stopped short of saying he’ll demand a trade.

“That’s they type of decision, I’ll have to consult my agent and see what my situation is after this season,” Bautista said. “I’m not ready to answer that question right now.” Lineups for today’s game against Chicago: Cubs — Not yet posted.

Pirates — Rivas 2B, Mientkiewicz 1B, McLouth CF, Doumit C, Andy LaRoche 3B, Moss RF, Michaels LF, Wilson SS, Karstens P
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Bay says trade was ‘inevitable’

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CHICAGO — Jason Bay saw it coming.

Thursday night, as news that he was going to the Boston Red Sox as part of a three-way trade began to sink it, Bay was not surprised to be packing his bags and leaving the Pirates.<p? "It was something that was probably inevitable, given the state of the franchise, (and with) them getting rid of (Xavier) Nady and (Damaso) Marte to the Yankees," Bay said. "This was something from the offseason that I had anticipated would happen."

The Pirates got four prospects — including third baseman Andy LaRoche, Adam’s little brother — in exchange for Bay. What does Bay get? The two-time All-Star left fielder will get to experience something he’s never had during his career in Pittsburgh: a playoff chase.

“I couldn’t be happier,” Bay said. “Even if I could have picked a place, if I had free range to go anywhere, there was no question that (Boston) would be a place I would like to go. Just being part of that atmosphere. I haven’t had that excitement over the past few years.”
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Let it all out, Bucs fans

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You’re angry about the Jason Bay trade, aren’t you? Or, do you think it will ultimately help turn around the franchise? Stunned? Surprised? Elated? Honked-the-freak-off?

My e-mail inbox is buzzing, and the trade’s only a few hours old. Time to vent, folks. Let me hear it …

Can’t wait to see how many suckers waste their time & money to go see this pathetic excuse for a professional sports franchise. Don’t think I”ve been this angry, frustrated, depressed since Lind’s error, or when Sid Bream beat the throw.

– Mario

Most of the players the Pirates picked up in the (Nady and Bay) trades were born in the early fall of 1983, which makes them about 25. Aren’t guys who are around 25 and still at Class AAA or AA not really destined to be impact big leaguers?

– Mort Davis

Another crappy deal.

– Bob Cyphers

Are you freaking kidding me? This trumps the Nady/Marte trade. If the Pirates weren’t the laughing stock of baseball (before), they are now. Not only do they have to shed the title of “perennial loser,” but you can add “SUCKER” when it comes to trading, too. It’s a slap to the face to every loyal Buccos fan. (Adam) LaRoche wasn’t enough; we had to get his brother (Andy). Why do we need a third baseman? Are we not gonna sign Pedro Alvarez? I realize this mess wasn’t gonna be fixed overnight , but this past week has set us back another 16 years of losing. YIPPIE!

– Mario Lopez, Charlotte, NC
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Bye-bye, Bay

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Jason Bay almost stayed with the Pirates.

In the final minutes before Thursday’s 4 p.m. non-waiver trading deadline, the Pirates sent their standout left fielder to the Boston Red Sox as part of a blockbuster, three-team deal.

As part of the deal, tempermental outfielder Manny Ramirez goes to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Pirates get four players — third baseman Andy LaRoche, outfielder Brandon Moss and right-handed pitchers Craig Hansen (RHP) and Bryan Morris.

LaRoche is the younger brother of Pirates first baseman Adam LaRoche. Moss and Hason is from the Red Sox system.

LaRoche, Moss and Hansen will join the team Friday in Chicago, where the Pirates open a three-game series against the Cubs. Morris will be sent to Class A Hickory.

The deal came after talks among the Pirates, Red Sox and Florida Marlins collapsed. In the final hour, the Pirates were unable to come to terms with the Tampa Bay Rays on a Bay-for-prospects exchange.

Yesterday’s trade is the second major move by Pirates first-year general manager Neal Huntington. Last week, the Pirates dealt Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte to the New York Yankees for outfielder Jose Tabata and three minor league pitchers.

Of the 25 players on the opening-day roster, 11 will not be with the Pirates this afternoon when they take the field against the Chicago Cubs. That includes one player who was released (Matt Morris), three who are on the disabled list (Adam LaRoche, Matt Capps, Phil Dumatrait) and four who were sent to the minors (Tom Gorzelanny, Evan Meek, Nyjer Morgan, Ronny Paulino).

To restock a barren farm system, Huntington has received a total of eight prospects in two trades. The Pirates especially covet top-caliber pitching.

“That’s what we’ve desperately needed,” manager John Russell said. “We need to be able to help this team when things aren’t going well or when there are injuries. We need guys who can come up here, compete and stabilize the team a little bit.

“That’s been one of our goals from day one — to have a sustainable organization, not only here but throughout the system. That’s what Neal is putting together.”

The Pirates today begin a 11-day, 10-game road trip against four playoff contenders: the Chicago Cubs, Arizona Diamondbacks, Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets.

Russell hopes that putting recent acquisition Jeff Karstens to the rotation — he’ll make his Pirates debut this afternoon against the Cubs — and the eventual addition of Ross Ohlendorf, who also came in the Nady trade, will give the pitching staff time to regroup.

“It’s tough going through the stretch we’ve been on — we’d get a decent start, then not a decent start,” Russell said. “It’s taxing on your bullpen. It’s a rollercoaster for your offense as well.

Hopefully, we can get things settled and get a little bit of stability and consistency. On this road trip, we’re really going to need it.”
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Deadline day

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The Pirates will hold a press conference late this afternoon, probably around 4:30 p.m., to discuss what — if anything — they did at the non-waiver trade deadline. The deadline is 4 p.m.

The news, of course, will center on whether Jason Bay is dealt. Published reports have included him in scenarios involving the Red Sox, Rays and Marlins. The Padres chased after him last winter; will they make a late push?

Trib policy precludes me from publishing rumors or scenarios attributed to anonymous sources, even if those sources work for the Pirates. So as the minutes tick away up to 4 p.m., we’ll deal here with firm, confirmed reports.

This much is certain: the Pirates are listening to offers, and are playing possible trading partners — especially those who are in the same division — against each other to get the best deal. If something does go down, it likely would rank among the biggest trades in franchise history.

Stay tuned …
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Pirates-Rockies starting lineups

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Here are the starting lineups for the Rockies-Pirates game at 7:05 tonight at PNC Park. Jason Michaels is starting in right field, and Luis Rivas, one night after going 3 for 4 with three RBI, gets another start at second base. Zach Duke (4-8), winless in his past eight starts, goes against all-star right-hander Aaron Cook, who looks for his 14th win, which would tie him for the NL lead.

Rockies’ lineup – Willy Taveras, CF; Jeff Baker, 2B; Matt Holliday, LF; Garrett Atkins, 1B; Chris Iannetta, C; Troy Tulowitzki, SS; Clint Barmes, RF; Ian Stewart, 3B; Aaron Cook, P

Pirates’ lineup – Nate McLouth, CF; Luis Rivas, 2B; Ryan Doumit, C; Jason Bay, LF; Doug Mientkiewicz, 1B; Jason Michaels, RF; Jose Bautista, 3B; Zach Duke, P; Jack Wilson, SS

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Starting lineups

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The Pirates are missing two of their hottest hitters again tonight, with Adam LaRoche on the 15-day disabled list (ribcage) and second baseman Freddy Sanchez out with back spasms. Doug Mientkiewicz will make his second consecutive start at first base in place of LaRoche, who is one of the hottest hitters in the NL in July, batting .390 with seven home runs and 18 RBI. Luis Rivas will start at second.

Here are the starting lineups

Colorado – Willy Taveras, CF; Jeff Baker, 2B; Matt Holliday, LF; Brad Hawpe, RF: Garrett Atkins, 1B; Ian Stewart, 3B; Troy Tulowitzki, SS; Chris Iannetta, C; Glendon Rush, P

Pirates – Nate McLouth, CF; Luis Rivas, 2B; Ryan Doumit, C; Jason Bay, LF; Doug Mientkiewicz, 1B; Steve Pearce, RF; Jose Bautista, 3B; Yoslan Herrara, P; Jack Wilson, SS

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LaRoche to DL

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The Pirates have placed first baseman Adam LaRoche on the 15-day disabled list with a right strain of his ribcage muscle. Infielder Brian Bixler was recalled from Triple A-Indianapolis to take LaRoche’s place on the 25-man roster. Doug Mientkiewicz will make his second consecutive start at first base in place of LaRoche, who is one of the hottest hitters in the NL in July, batting .390 with seven home runs and 18 RBI. Also, second baseman Freddy Sanchez is out of the lineup for tonight’s 7:05 game with the Colorado Rockies at PNC Park. Sanchez, who suffered back spasms on Sunday, is out until at least Friday, manager John Russell said.

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– Rob Biertempfel