Pirates-Nationals pre-game notes


• Virgil Vasquez still is listed as the starter for Tuesday’s game as new Pirate Kevin Hart, acquired from the Cubs, pitched on Thursday and wouldn’t be available. Hart will take Vasquez’s spot in the rotation, but it is uncertain when he will make his first start, manager John Russell said. Hart, who will wear No. 25, was not expected to arrive at PNC Park until later Friday afternoon.

• Outfielder Lastings Milledge credited a renewed work ethic with his productive month at Triple-A Indianapolis. Milledge, recalled on Friday to take Freddy Sanchez’s spot on the 25-man roster, hit .333 in 17 games after being acquired from tonight’s opponent, the Nationals.

“It feels good to get another shot,” he said. “I worked real hard in Triple-A and the hard work is really paying off.”

Milledge, a former first-round draft pick, is batting second and started in left field, as he becomes an everyday outfielder for the Pirates. Milledge, 24, is wearing uniform No. 85.

• Former Mariner Ronny Cedeno, who came over in the Jack Wilson trade, also is in the clubhouse this afternoon, and will start at shortstop. Cedeno, wearing No. 13, said he hopes being back in the NL – he started his career with the Cubs – will help him improve at the plate. Cedeno is a career .283 hitter at PNC Park.

• Delwyn Young worked extensively with infield instructor Perry Hill about four hours before the game, specifically on his double-play pivot. Young, who will get the majority of the starts at second base the rest of the year after Freddy Sanchez was traded.

• Russell said the set-up job handled by John Grabow, traded to the Cubs on Thursday, will be done by a committee of Jesse Chavez, Joel Hanrahan and Evan Meek.

“I think our options are very good,” Russell said. “I think it’s going to be match-up.”

• Just met up with former Pirates Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett in the Nationals clubhouse, and both were excited to be back in their former ballpark. Each has excelled in their new environment. Morgan is batting .404 since the trade, while Burnett has an 0.79 ERA in 12 appearances with the Nationals.

“I’m happy to be here,” Burnett said. “It’s a good opportunity for me.”

• Outfielder and prized prospect Jose Tabata continued his ascent through the minor leagues. He was assigned to Triple-A Indianapolis today.


Pirates-Nationals lineups, Milledge starting in left


Lastings Milledge will make his Pirates debut tonight against his former team, the Washington Nationals.

Milledge, called up from Triple-A Indianapolis, will start in left field and bat second.

Ronny Cedeno will start at shortstop in his first game with the Pirates since being acquired from Seattle in the Jack Wilson trade.

Here are the starting lineups, in the homecoming for outfielder Nyjer Morgan and reliever Sean Burnett. Morgan is batting .404 since being traded to the Nationals in late June.

Nationals — 1. Morgan cf, 2. Guzman ss, 3. Zimmerman 3b, 4. Dunn lf, 5. Johnson 1b, 6. Willingham rf, 7. Bard c, 8. Gonzalez 2b, 9. lhp Lannan

Pirates — 1. McCutchen cf, 2. Milledge lf, 3. Jones rf, 4. Doumit c, 5. Young 2b, 6. Pearce 1b, 7. LaRoche, 8. Cedeno ss, 9. rhp Ross Ohlendorf


Snell’s mild parting shots


SAN FRANCISCO — Ian Snell did not badmouth the Pirates on his way out the door.

“The Pirates gave me my first opportunity, so I have nothing bad to say about them,” Snell said. “I had issues with (general manager) Neal Huntington and some others. But we talked about our issues and we got over them.”

Snell’s outgoing personality grated on some of his teammates. Snell also at times resisted guidance from his pitching coaches and management. After being demoted to Triple-A Indianapolis, Snell told the Tribune-Review he neither wanted not expected to ever return to Pittsburgh.

“He made it public he didn’t want to be here,” manager John Russell said. “To be successful, I think he needed to be in a place where he felt like he had an opportunity. For some reason he didn’t feel like that was here.”

Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik labeled Snell as “somewhat of a reclamation project.” Snell probably will start out at Triple-A.

“We’re hoping we can resurrect his career,” Zduriencik said.


Wilson, Snell dealt to Seattle


SAN FRANCISCO — “This is a sad day for me,” Jack Wilson said a few minutes ago, as he packed his gear and got ready to leave the Pirates’ clubhouse for the final time.

Wilson and right-hander Ian Snell today were traded to the Seattle Mariners for first baseman/catcher Jeff Clement, shortstop Ronny Cedeno, and right-handers Aaron Pribanic, Brett Lorin and Nathan Adcock.

Cedeno will join the Pirates on Friday and get the bulk of the playing time the rest of the season at short, according to manager John Russell. Clement will go to Triple-A Indianapolis, but almost certainly will be called up before the end of this season. Pribanic and Lorin will report to Class A West Virginia. Adcock was assigned to Class A Lynchburg.

More moves may come before the 4 p.m. Friday non-waiver trading deadline.

“We don’t know when it’s going to finally be over, when we actually have the guys in here who are going to turn it around,” pitcher Paul Maholm said. “Hopefully, it’s soon. Until we start winning, this is going to continue to happen.”

• Wilson said he “definitely would consider” signing with the Pirates if he becomes a free agent this winter.

• Catcher Ryan Doumit declined to comment on the trade. “I’ve got nothing to say,” Doumit said, without even looking up at reporters at his locker. Second baseman Freddy Sanchez, Wilson’s best friend since high school, was too emotional to be interviewed.

• Lineups for this afternoon’s game:

PIRATES — 1.Andrew McCutchen cf, 2. Andy LaRoche 3b, 3. Delwyn Young 2b, 4. Garrett Jones lf, 5. Steve Pearce 1b, 6. Brandon Moss rf, 7. Ramon Vazquez ss, 8. Jason Jaramillo c, 9. Zach Duke (9-9, 3.42) lhp

GIANTS — 1. Andres Torres cf, 2. Randy Winn rf, 3. Pablo Sandoval 3b, 4. Bengie Molina c, 5. Ryan Garko 1b, 6. Edgar Renteria ss, 7. Eugenio Velez lf, 8. Juan Uribe 2b, 9. Matt Cain (12-2, 2.27) rhp

Audio: July 29 – Wilson
Shortstop dealt to Seattle

Audio: July 29 – Sanchez
Departure of Wilson

Audio: July 29 – Capps
Losing a teammate

Audio: July 29 – Maholm
Starter talks Wilson


More thoughts on Sanchez


SAN FRANCISCO — Here is a (no-so-fun) fact about Freddy Sanchez: if he is traded Wednesday (as I’m coming to believe he will be), Sanchez will end his Pirates career with a 0-for-20 tailspin at the plate. Kind of ironic, considering the guy is the last Pirate to win the NL batting title. Sanchez’s last hit — a first-inning single off Braden Looper — came a week ago today. His last RBI happened July 12.

• If Sanchez is dealt to the Giants, he would replace Eugenio Velez at second base. Velez is doing his part to try to nix a trade, hitting his first career homer in the second inning off Charlie Morton and walking in the fourth. Moments ago, in the sixth, he hit a tie-breaking, RBI double.

• The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that the Twins are very interested in Sanchez. Bob Hegman, who scouts NL teams for the Twins, is meeting with team execs at the Metrodome. The Twins could use Sanchez not only at second base, but as a possible third baseman if Joe Crede bolts as a free agent this offseason. The Twins recently signed Mark Grudzielanek, who is getting back up to speed with the team’s Double-A affiliate. However, they said that doesn’t rule out trading for another second baseman.


Negrych out for rest of season


SAN FRANCISCO — Double-A Altoona second baseman Jim Negrych was injured Monday night in a collision with shortstop Brian Friday. According to the Curve, Negrych had a hematoma, which required surgery Tuesday morning. The operation was successful, but the Pirates do not have a timetable for when or if Negrych will be able to play again.

Negrych, a Pitt product, was the Pirates’ sixth-round draft pick in 2006. He was the franchise’s minor-league player of the year in 2008. This season, Negrych hit .272 with three home runs and 30 RBI.


Sanchez still a Pirate … for now


SAN FRANCISCO — Neither second baseman Freddy Sanchez nor shortstop Jack Wilson is in the lineup tonight, but it does not appear any trade is imminent.

The Giants, in the thick of the wild-card chase, are keenly interested in Sanchez. However, manager John Russell said Sanchez’s gimpy left knee will keep him out of the lineup again — he did not play last night — and until at least Friday. Wilson got a normal day off, Russell insisted, which was not related to his recent hamstring injury or any trade possibility.

“Rumors are rumors,” Sanchez said. “There’s been speculation about a lot players who haven’t gone anywhere. But it’s a little different when you’re playing in the place where they’re talking about you going.”

A Giants trainer checked out Sanchez’s knee last night, but the exam was nothing out of the norm for when a visiting player is injured. Sanchez was not given the type of complete physical exam that would be part of trade proceedings.

That being said, Sanchez is very, very jumpy today — even Wilson noted as much as he watched Sanchez bounce around the clubhouse before batting practice.


Hmmm …


SAN FRANCISCO — Neither Freddy Sanchez nor Jack Wilson is in the lineup tonight. Hmmm …

• The Pirates signed their fifth-round draft pick, left-hander Nathan Baker. He went 4-3 with one save and a 3.63 ERA this year as a junior at the University of Mississippi. The amount of Baker’s signing bonus was not immediately available. The Pirates have signed 18 of their 51 picks.

• With less than three weeks to go until the Aug. 17 signing deadline, the Pirates are ramping up their efforts to get a few more of their draftees under contract. There’s a perception among many players and agents that it pays to wait until the last minute to sign a contract, holding out for the most cash. However, that also can hurt a player because it cuts into the time he could be spending in the minors.

Having a more well-defined bonus slotting system, similar to the NBA model, instead of MLB’s “suggested” slot amounts, might make the process easier and quicker. Pirates president Frank Coonelly said that topic surely will come up when the next Collective Bargaining Agreement is negotiated.

“There’s no question the draft will be a priority,” Coonelly said.

Some pundits have suggested allowing teams to trade their draft picks. Coonelly’s in favor of that, but only if there is a firm slot system in place.

“With out (a slot system), trading picks would be dangerous and would given even more influence to agents,” Coonelly said.

• Last night, Barry Bonds caught the ceremonial first pitch. It was a surprise to the fans at AT&T Park, who instantly erupted when King Asterisk was announced. Giants fans were cheering wildly, and the handful of Pirates fans in the park were booing like crazy.

• It was quite the odd assortment of folks waiting outside the Pirates clubhouse after last night’s game. There was the usual, small cluster of media; the assortment of wives, girlfriends, parents and other family members; Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell, the former mixed martial arts champion; and a couple of heavily tatooed guys with “Hell’s Angels” patches on their leather jackets.

Lineups for tonight’s game

PIRATES — 1.Andrew McCutchen cf, 2. Young rf, 3. Garrett Jones lf, 4. Ryan Doumit c, 5. Steve Pearce 1b, 6. Andy LaRoche 3b, 7. Ramon Vazquez 2b, 8. Luis Cruz ss, 9. Charlie Morton (2-2, 3.86) rhp

GIANTS — 1. Andres Torres cf, 2. Randy Winn rf, 3. Pablo Sandoval 3b, 4. Bengie Molina c, 5. Lewis lf, 6. Ryan Garko 1b, 7. Eugenio Velez l2b, 8. Juan Uribe 2b, 9. Barry Zito (6-10, 4.68) lhp


What if Jack and Freddy stay?


SAN FRANCISCO — It’s about 94 hours until the trading deadline, and everyone’s still here who was here yesterday. This morning, as I waited at Sky Harbor Airport to board my flight to California, I briefly chatted by phone with team prez Frank Coonelly. I asked if the team might re-open contract extension talks with Freddy Sanchez and/or Jack Wilson if no trades are made.

“At this juncture, I wouldn’t say anything is definitely closed,” Coonelly said. “We’d have to see where we are. But, developments in the organization could create a situation that could make it less likely, or more likely, we’d want to extend Jack or Freddy.”

Lineups for tonight’s game:

PIRATES — 1.Andrew McCutchen cf, 2. Freddy Sanchez 2b, 3. Garrett Jones rf, 4. Ryan Doumit c, 5. Steve Pearce 1b, 6. Brandon Moss lf, 7. Andy LaRoche 3b, 8. Jack Wilson ss, 9. Paul Maholm (6-4, 4.63) lhp

GIANTS — TBA 9. Tim Lincecum (10-3, 2.45)