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Pirates Suppan is gone, but Giles remains

Friday, August 01, 2003

By Paul Meyer, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

The Pirates untangled the Brandon Lyon trade yesterday, and then sent right-hander Jeff Suppan to Boston for second base prospect Freddy Sanchez.

In their second trade with the Red Sox in 10 days, the Pirates returned Lyon and minor-league right-hander Anastacio Martinez to Boston and got minor-league left-hander Mike Gonzalez back. The Pirates also will get some money from Boston.

Scott Sauerbeck, also in that July 22 deal, remains with the Red Sox.

"I thought I was going to be traded back [to the Pirates] and be the only player in history traded for himself," Sauerbeck said yesterday.

That wouldn't have been much stranger than what actually happened.

The day after he was traded to the Pirates, Lyon mentioned to Pirates management that he had taken anti-inflammatory medicine because his right elbow bothered him. He then took a Magnetic Resonance Imaging test, which revealed fraying of the ligament in his right elbow.

The Red Sox maintained Lyon was a healthy pitcher, but the Pirates put Lyon on the disabled list -- where he remains.

Pirates General Manager Dave Littlefield and Theo Epstein, his Boston counterpart, discussed many ways to modify the trade.

Yesterday, they reached a settlement.

"I will say it's somewhat of an awkward situation where one day I'm sitting in a [Downtown hotel] having a [soft drink] with Brandon Lyon and explaining to him that we're trying to figure out a way to resolve this and then call him in [yesterday] and tell him he's going back to Boston," Littlefield said.

"It's a little weird," Lyon said while he packed his bag again. "I'm just kind of glad that finally there was somewhat of a conclusion. It's a little bit shocking. I don't know quite how to take it. It definitely is strange."

Suppan also returns to the Red Sox. Boston originally drafted him in the second round of the 1993 amateur draft.

"He performed awfully, awfully well for us," Pirates Manager Lloyd McClendon said. "It's tough to lose him."

Suppan, who has a $4 million option for next year, was 10-7 with a 3.57 earned run average in 21 starts for the Pirates. In his final eight starts, he was 5-1 with three complete games, two shutouts and a 2.63 ERA.

Sanchez, 23, is considered one of Boston's top prospects. He had a brief stint with the Red Sox from May 30-July 17 and played against the Pirates at PNC Park in the June 3-5 series, getting a pinch-hit single in the third game.

In 20 games, he was 8 for 34 with two RBIs.

With Class AAA Pawtucket this season, Sanchez had a .341 batting average with 17 doubles, 5 home runs and 25 RBIs in 58 games.

"He plays very solid defense," Littlefield said. "We think he can have an impact offensively and defensively."

Sanchez, who will report to the Pirates' Class AAA Nashville affiliate along with Gonzalez, is primarily a second baseman-shortstop, but he has played a little third base. Littlefield indicated that Sanchez does not figure in the Pirates' third-base mix for the 2004 season.

The acquisition of Sanchez could mean the Pirates won't select second baseman Bobby Hill from the Chicago Cubs as the player to be named in the Aramis Ramirez-Kenny Lofton trade July 22. The Pirates could opt for right-handed pitcher Francis Beltran instead.

And the acquisition of Sanchez probably means highly regarded prospect Jose Castillo, currently with Class AA Altoona, can spend at least next season with Nashville -- as a second baseman or a shortstop, his original position.

"We don't see Castillo as ready to break with us from major-league camp in 2004," Littlefield said.

The acquisition of Sanchez also means Pokey Reese is finished as the Pirates' second baseman. Reese has missed much of this season because of a finger injury. The Pirates won't pick up their $5 million option on him for 2004.

The Pirates might move right-hander Brian Meadows into Suppan's spot in the rotation. Suppan was scheduled to start tomorrow night against Colorado.

Or they could leave Meadows in the bullpen and bring up left-handed starter Dave Williams, who had surgery on his left shoulder last season. Williams has pitched decently in Nashville's rotation the past two months.

There was a rumor yesterday that the Pirates were about to trade outfielder Reggie Sanders to Kansas City for two minor-leaguers. The Royals, trying to hold off the Chicago White Sox in the American League Central Division, want another offensive threat but lost out on Cincinnati's Jose Guillen, who went to Oakland two days ago.

"There was a lot of interest in [Sanders]," Littlefield said. "I talked to quite a few teams about him."

The Pirates also did not consummate a trade they discussed with San Diego that would have sent Brian Giles and Jason Kendall to the Padres for perhaps as many as four players and included the Padres picking up a healthy chunk of the $42 million the Pirates owe Kendall for 2004-07.

That deal still could get done in this month, although it would involve sending players through waivers. Or it could be revisited this winter.

"It's a little trickier with the whole waiver issue," Littlefield said.

Giles, who is from San Diego, wouldn't mind playing for the Padres.

"We'll have to see what happens," he said. "Things can still happen down the road. It's out of my control. There's nothing I can do about it."

Did Giles arrive at PNC Park yesterday thinking it would be his final game with the Pirates?

"One way or another, it wasn't going to bother me," he said. "My name comes up every year at the trading deadline. I've been through it before."

Kendall, who finished his three-game suspension yesterday, was born in San Diego and lives near Los Angeles in the off-season. It's assumed he wouldn't mind playing for the Padres, although he wasn't available for comment yesterday.

The Pirates will call up a pitcher today. And it wouldn't be a surprise if they bring up center fielder Tike Redman from Nashville soon.

Since they traded Lofton to the Cubs July 22, the Pirates haven't had a true center fielder. Giles has played there some, although he's more of a left fielder.

Paul Meyer can be reached at 412-263-1144.

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