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Pirates Pirates Report: 9/22/01

Saturday, September 22, 2001

Compiled by Robert Dvorchak

TODAY'S GAME

Cardinals vs. Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park. No TV. Radio: KDKA-AM (1020) and the Pirates Radio Network. Bud Smith (5-2) starts for the Cardinals; Todd Ritchie (11-12) for the Pirates.

NOTEBOOK

An attorney representing OF Derek Bell denied allegations he was involved in a sex-for-hire ring in 1999 while he was with the New York Mets. "None of this is true, and we challenge anyone to prove differently," said George Tragos, an attorney from Clearwater, Fla. "He hasn't been contacted by any investigators. He's never been touched by scandal." Jesica Cortes told Hillsborough County sheriff's investigators in Tampa, Fla., that Bell paid her $1,500 for sex on his yacht in October 1999 when she was 17. Cortes, now 20, told detectives a limousine took her and another female to Miami, where they boarded Bell's yacht for Key West. Cortes had been charged with nine counts of procuring a person younger than 16 for prostitution, but prosecutors dropped the charges in return for her cooperation in the case. "She's making all this up to try to get herself out of trouble," Tragos said yesterday. Prosecutors have said they are not investigating Bell, who signed a two-year, $9 million contract with the Pirates in the off-season. He had his season cut short by a hamstring injury and returned to Tampa Sept. 9.

One pitcher who might get a shot at being a starter in spring training is Mike Lincoln, who had a staff-low 2.06 ERA in 35 innings going into the game last night. "It's definitely a possibility. His role also could increase in the bullpen to be more of a late-inning guy," Manager Lloyd McClendon said. After having some major-league experience with Minnesota, Lincoln was signed as a free agent in the off season. His contract was purchased June 25 from Nashville, where he went 5-4 with a 3.88 ERA in 18 games. The Pirates have used him exclusively in the bullpen, although he was slated to make one start after the trading deadline. But the Pirates acquired Tony McKnight from Houston and inserted him into the rotation instead. Said McClendon of Lincoln: "He's got three quality pitches. He can get left-handers out as well as right-handers." The Pirates aren't taking for granted that Kris Benson will be healthy by May 1 after his elbow surgery, so they also will take a look at Joe Beimel and perhaps Scott Sauerbeck as starters. "Suffice it to say, we won't leave any stone unturned," McClendon said.

Jason Kendall batted leadoff for the 48th time last night. "Just trying to get a spark, trying to get something going," McClendon said. The Pirates were 12-35 when Kendall batted first. The batting order also had Gary Matthews Jr. batting seventh. While the Pirates aren't certain yet if Matthews is better equipped to be a table-setter or a run-producer, McClendon likes the pop Matthews has shown in his bat at times. "He's got some juice," McClendon said.

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