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Pirates Pirates Report: 5/14/01

Monday, May 14, 2001

Compiled by Robert Dvorchak


Pirates at Brewers: 1:05 p.m. today, Miller Park, Milwaukee. No TV. Radio: KDKA-AM (1020) and Pirates Radio Network. Don Wengert (0-0) starts for the Pirates, Jamey Wright (3-4) for the Brewers.


Right-hander Don Wengert, who got a no decision against the Rockies May 6, will make his second start today. Wengert, 31, gave up two runs on nine hits in five innings. "I'm going to go as hard as I can for as long as I can, try to give us a chance to win," Wengert said. He does not have an overpowering fastball, but he keeps hitters off-balance by working down in the strike zone, spotting his pitches, working in his slider and mixing in a changeup. Now with his sixth major-league organization, Wengert worked with Nashville pitching coach Darold Knowles to post a 2-0 mark with a 0.95 ERA, surrendering two runs or fewer in each of his five starts. Another good start could keep him the rotation until some of the injured starters return, but Wengert noted: "I can't worry about that. I'm just going to go out and grind, try to give us a chance to win."

Wengert's start means Bronson Arroyo will remain in the bullpen. He had been roughed up in his previous three starts, but Arroyo pitched two perfect innings in relief Saturday. He has not been scored upon in five innings during his past three relief appearances. He has not allowed a hit to the 14 batters he has faced in relief. "I felt we probably overexposed him a little bit [as a starter]," Manager Lloyd McClendon said. "I felt it would benefit him to put him in the bullpen to continue to learn, continue to grow. One thing about Bronson Arroyo, he gives you everything he's got. I don't want to see him take a step back." McClendon plans to use Arroyo the way he uses rookie Joe Beimel. "Those two kids can pitch in the big leagues a long time if they continue to get better," McClendon said.

Craig Wilson got his first start as a catcher yesterday. It was only the third time in 36 games that Jason Kendall hadn't started behind the plate. Kendall, who broke an 0-for-16 stretch with a 10th-inning single Saturday night, went hitless as a pinch-hitter yesterday. He also visited McClendon's office to ask why he wasn't starting. "You have to give guys off. You can't kill them," McClendon said. "He catches 12 innings in a four-hour game and wants to know why he's not in there. He must have come in 12 times."

The 12-inning loss to the Brewers Saturday night had a lot of pivotal moments -- a passed ball on what would have been an inning-ending strikeout that preceded a two-run home run, 15 runners that the Pirates left on base, one hit in 14 at-bats with runners in scoring position, walking the leadoff hitter four times and issuing seven walks in the game. But to McClendon, the outcome turned in the eighth when Pat Meares was hit by a pitch that was called a strike. Had the hit batsman call gone the Pirates' way, they would have had runners at first and second with no outs and a pinch-hitter coming up to bunt, which would have given them an opportunity to pad their 4-3 lead. But home plate umpire Rick Reed ruled that when Meares had squared to bunt and was drilled in the midsection, he offered at the pitch and it was called a strike. McClendon argued and asked for a second opinion from first-base umpire Al Clark. "To me, that was the ballgame. [Reed] said he bunted at the ball. Maybe I was watching a different game." The Pirates lost, 5-4, on Jeromy Burnitz's single.

Kris Benson threw 49 pitches in four innings at extended spring training in Bradenton, Fla., yesterday, but there were no reports on how his mending right elbow felt. He will be back in Pittsburgh for a re-evaluation today and is expected pitch a rehabilitation start with Nashville Friday.

Francisco Cordova will be tested again tomorrow to determine if his right elbow is strong enough to pitch again. Cordova has been shut down for seven to 10 days. If he checks out, he will start pitching simulated games but would be at least 21/2 weeks away from being able to pitch for the Pirates.

Emil Brown's lower back was strained, and he was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning yesterday. He will be re-evaluated today.

General Manager Cam Bonifay is investigating the possibility of signing former Devil Rays 3B Vinny Castilla to a minor-league contract. Castilla asked for his release because he lost his starting job. Bonifay also said the Pirates have also been keeping an eye on Jose Canseco, now playing in the minors. But Bonifay said no signing would be made unless the players show they are capable of playing both ways.


NASHVILLE (17-18) won, 5-2, at New Orleans. Jason Ryan (2-4) got the win, giving up two runs and eight hits in six innings, striking out two and walking none. Marc Wilkins recorded his first save. CF Tike Redman was 2 for 4 and RF Adam Hyzdu had a two-run triple. LF Chad Hermansen hit his first home run and had two RBIs.

ALTOONA (15-21) lost, 2-1, at home to Akron. Mike Myers (1-1) took the loss in relief of Randy Galvez, who allowed one run on nine hits in six innings, striking out three and walking four. DH Adrian Brown had a double and a triple and scored a run, but his right shoulder continues to bother him when he throws. Bonifay said Brown would be re-evaluated today. "He's been bothered every day by pain. He's trying to work through it, but his pain persists."

LYNCHBURG (16-18) lost, 2-1, at home to Myrtle Beach. Ryan Ledden (2-3) gave up just one earned run but was charged with the loss, giving up six hits in eight innings while striking out four and walking one. SS Jose Castillo had two hits and an RBI. CF Paul Weichard also had two hits.

HICKORY (16-20) won, 10-4, at Delmarva. Mike Connolly (4-0) won in relief of starter Sean Burnett, who lasted three innings and yielded one unearned and three hits. 3B Yurendell DeCaster drove in four runs with a double, triple and his third home run; 2B Josh Bonifay was 3 for 3 with a double and two RBIs, and 1B Chris Bass was 2 for 5 with a double and an RBI.

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