Ohlendorf impressive in 2-1 loss


By John Perrotto ST. LOUIS _ During the final days of spring training, a scout from another National League team was asked to identify the Pirates player who impressed him the most during the exhibition season. He answered Ross Ohlendorf without hesitation after watching the big right-hander post a fine 2.55 ERA in Grapefruit League play. ‚ÄúYou can just see it all coming together for him,‚Äù the scout said. ‚ÄúHe‚Äôs a big, strong guy with a good arm and a good head on his shoulders. He looks better than I‚Äôve ever seen him before. I think he‚Äôs going to be a handful for opposing hitters this season.‚Äù Ohlendorf certainly looked that way in his first start of the regular season Thursday at Busch Stadium, though he took a tough 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals and Chris Carpenter, who combined with two relievers on a one-hitter. Ohlendorf allowed twoRead More »

Snell struggles as Pirates fall to Cardinals 9-3


By John Perrotto ST. LOUIS _ The one thing we have learned about Ian Snell since he first came to the major leagues with the Pirates in 2004 is that you never know what you‚Äôre going to get from the right-hander. He can be brilliant in one start and awful the next. There is seemingly never any in-between. Tuesday night, he was awful, getting tagged for eight runs, six earned, and nine hits in four innings of a 9-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. He walked three, uncorked two wild pitches, gave up two home runs and threw just 49 of his 89 pitches for strikes. ‚ÄúI had nothing,‚Äù Snell said. That was obvious from the outset as he gave up two runs in the first inning by walking his long-time nemesis Albert Pujols with two outs and then surrendering a two-run home run to ChrisRead More »

Inside Look at the Pirates 25 man roster


By John Perrotto_The Pirates must submit their opening-day roster to the commissioner‚Äôs office by Sunday and it appears they won‚Äôt be adding any outside help. ‚ÄúI don‚Äôt anticipate us doing anything,‚Äù Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre always looking to improve our club but I don‚Äôt see a deal out there that would make us better. I‚Äôm perfectly happy going into the season with what we have right now.‚Äù The Pirates had been trying hard to acquire right-hander Jeff Niemann from the Tampa Bay Rays but apparently balked at the asking price. They have also had moderate interest in Colorado Rockies infielder Jeff Baker and Detroit Tigers outfielder Brent Clevlen. The Pirates got down to the 25-man limit Friday by optioning rookie right-handed reliever Evan Meek to Class AAA Indianapolis. He has not pitched since March 20 because of a tired shoulder and then bronchitis, and the Pirates wantRead More »

Pirates stick to plan in demoting top prospect Andrew McCutchen


By John Perrotto_Nyjer Morgan hasn‚Äôt exactly won the Pirates‚Äô starting left field job this spring. However, the Pirates said before spring training began that left field was Morgan‚Äôs to lose and he didn‚Äôt. The Pirates reassigned top outfield prospect Andrew McCutchen to their minor-league camp Monday, ensuring that Morgan will be their leadoff hitter in next Monday‚Äôs opener at St. Louis. Morgan went into Monday‚Äôs exhibition game against the Cincinnati Reds hitting .203 with a .250 on base percentage in 76 plate appearances this spring. McCutchen, meanwhile, hit .318 with 10 extra-base hits and a .423 OBP in 78 plate appearances. However, the Pirates decided the 28-year-old Morgan is the better fit now than the 22-year-old McCutchen, who will go back to Class AAA Indianapolis for a second season despite Baseball America ranking him as the International League‚Äôs No. 2 prospect last year. ‚ÄúYou have to be careful not toRead More »

Pirates GM Neal Huntington “still waiting for relievers to step up”


By John Perrotto_The focus of the Pirates’ spring training camp has been the starting rotation but the bullpen is even more unsettled with the April 6 opener at St. Louis less than two weeks away. The rotation is 60 percent set with left-handers Paul Maholm and Zach Duke assured of spots along with right-hander Ian Snell while two jobs remain open in a three-man competition between Jeff Karstens, Ross Ohlendorf and Virgil Vasquez. Conversely, less than half of the seven bullpen jobs have been filled as the Pirates are still looking for four relievers to fill in behind closer Matt Capps, left-handed set-up man John Grabow and right-handed set-up man Tyler Yates. “Quite frankly, we’re, still waiting for people to step up,” Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. “Nobody has really distinguished themselves.” Left-hander Sean Burnett appeared to be all

Reliever Sean Burnett will be apart of the opening day roster


By John Perrotto_ Much of the focus in the Pirates’ spring training camp has been on sorting out the starting rotation and there are two open spots with a little less three weeks remaining before opening day. Right-handers Jason Davis, Jeff Karstens, Ross Ohlendorf and Virgil Vasquez are the candidates to join left-handers Paul Maholm and Zach Duke and right-hander Zach Duke. The smart money says that

Pirates exploring the free agent market


By John Perrotto_ The Pirates are still exploring the possibility of adding a free-agent pitcher before the April 6 opener at St. Louis but the possibility of that happening isn‚Äôt great. ‚ÄúIf there is a move that would make us better and be a good fit, we would consider it,‚Äô Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. ‚ÄúThat being said, I feel comfortable with the players we have and I would be fine with going into the season with a 25-man roster comprised of players already in our camp.‚Äù One free agent who can be scratched off the Pirates‚Äô list is right-hander Pedro Martinez. He continues to want a major-league contact with at least a $5-million base salary with the opportunity to make an additional $5 million in performance bonuses. The Pirates went into the offseason wanting to add a veteran presence in their starting rotation. However, they have been encouragedRead More »

Pitching Rotation: Vasquez a player to watch?


BRADENTON, Fla. _ The Pittsburgh Pirates have their first of three off days during the exhibition season Tuesday and have played 12 Grapefruit League games. Thus, it is a good early checkpoint to see how the battle for the four open spots in the starting rotation is shaping up. Finding out who will fall in place in the rotation behind left-hander Paul Maholm, the nominal ace of the staff despite winning just nine games last season, is certainly the most intriguing aspect of the spring for the Pirates. While the Pirates brass says the other rotation spots are unsettled, that is more motivational tactic than cold and hard fact. They are trying to light a fire under some pitchers after their 5.08 team ERA last season was the worst in the National League. Left-hander Zach Duke and right-hander Ian Snell are going to be in the rotation, even if noRead More »