Pirates notebook: Moves at deadline won't be out of desperation


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CINCINNATI -- Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said there is room for the team's payroll to grow "within reason" at the trade deadline, and that could prove important as he seeks the right mix of players for a playoff push.

The Pirates have a payroll obligation close to $67 million this season, a team record that does not include $13.5 million in contributions from the New York Yankees (A.J. Burnett) and Houston Astros (Wandy Rodriguez).

Huntington said the Pirates know which players they would like to acquire. Now the challenge is crafting the right deal to bring them in.

The asking price, in terms of the types of players the Pirates will have to deal to acquire them, is high, Huntington said. But it's not prohibitive.

"We're willing to stretch where it's appropriate," he said. "We recognize that we're going to have to give up probably more than we want to. That's where we are at this point in time, but we can't be foolish about it."

But Huntington said the Pirates are comfortable with the group of position players on the roster now, though they rank 26th in the majors with a .243 batting average and have struggled to manufacture runs recently.

"As we look at our offense, we don't really have a guy that's well above his career norms, but we have a few guys that are below," he said. "Does that mean we don't look? No. But does it mean that we have a sense of desperation? It absolutely does not mean we have a sense of desperation."

Recent problems at the plate have not made the Pirates more or less willing to make a deadline deal.

"Teams have hot stretches, they have cold stretches," Huntington said. "We know that's a part of the game, and we've got to stay emotionally stable as we work through this process."

One last hurdle for Sanchez

It might not be long until former first-round draft pick Tony Sanchez is in the major leagues for good.

But before the Pirates are comfortable promoting him for an extended stay, the catcher has to fight back against recent throwing problems behind the plate.

"Tony's last box to check off is to work through his throwing challenges," Huntington said.

Sanchez's offense has improved dramatically in his first full season in Class AAA Indianapolis, and his greatest strength is his ability to call games.

Bedard bows out

Former Pirates pitcher Erik Bedard ended his own no-hit bid Saturday night, asking Astros manager Bo Porter to take him out of the game after 61/3 innings.

Bedard allowed one earned run after walking five batters and striking out 10 on 109 pitches.

"I've had three shoulder surgeries," Bedard told The Associated Press after the game. "I'm not going over 110 [pitches]. I'd rather pitch a couple more years than face another batter."

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said he couldn't remember a pitcher asking to take himself out of the game because of a pitch count. But he also remembers a shoulder that raised red flags when tested by the Pirates training staff.

"One of the conversations we had with Erik coming in was that he needed to be transparent with his thoughts," Hurdle said.

The Pirates released Bedard in August 2012 after a string of rough outings for the left-handed starter.

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Michael Sanserino: msanserino@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1722 and Twitter @msanserino. First Published July 22, 2013 4:00 AM


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