Pirates Notebook: Deal is close for top draft pick

Signing, with close to $2.75 million bonus, could be announced tomorrow

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Brad Lincoln, the Pirates' No. 1 draft pick, is all but signed, sealed and waiting to be delivered.

Lincoln, the right-hander from the University of Houston who was the fourth pick overall, and the Pirates have agreed on a signing bonus believed to be around $2.75 million.

Logistics are delaying the official announcement of Lincoln's signing. He is scheduled to be in Omaha, Neb., today and possibly the first half of tomorrow for the announcement of the winner of the Dick Howser Award, given annually to a college player who excels on the field and academically. He is a strong candidate to win. If he does, he's scheduled to be interviewed on ESPN early tomorrow afternoon, but that could be taped to expedite Lincoln's arrival in Pittsburgh.

"I'm trying to work on getting him to Pittsburgh Friday," said Peter Vescovo, Lincoln's representative.

Lincoln must pass a physical before the Pirates will announce his signing.

Lincoln probably will begin his professional career with Class A Hickory, although that determination will be made primarily by general manager Dave Littlefield and player development director Brian Graham.

"Certainly [a lot of people] will have input," Graham said. "I know this -- [Lincoln] looks good on tape."

No. 2 signs

The Pirates announced the signing of their second pick in this draft -- left-handed pitcher Michael Felix of Troy State University. Felix was 9-4 with a 3.45 earned run average in 28 appearances (eight starts) this spring. Not counting Lincoln, the Pirates officially have signed 22 of their 50 picks.

Duffy works out

Center fielder Chris Duffy went through his first workout at the Pirates' spring-training complex in Bradenton, Fla., yesterday morning. He hasn't played since being sent to Class AAA Indianapolis May 14. Duffy didn't report to Indianapolis and went home to Glendale, Ariz., to work out some personal issues.

Graham said he had no idea how long Duffy will remain in Bradenton before reporting to Indianapolis. "Zero speculation," he said from Bradenton. "We'll have a better read after a couple of days."

Graham said the decision about Duffy's reporting date will be made by Littlefield.

Burnitz still sits

Right fielder Jeromy Burnitz, bothered by a tight calf, probably won't start again until Saturday night. The Pirates are scheduled to face left-handers Mark Mulder of St. Louis today and Minnesota's Francisco Liriano tomorrow night.

Nothing working

Craig Wilson has been at the forefront of a possible trade with the St. Louis Cardinals. Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty, however, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Tuesday he has "never had contact with Pittsburgh about Craig Wilson."

Write-in campaign

Freddy Sanchez, who has been primarily a third baseman for the Pirates, is leading all major-leaguers in write-in votes with 123,768. "It's an honor that all the people writing in have appreciated me going out there and playing hard and doing my thing and noticing," Sanchez said. "To have that many votes, obviously they appreciate the way I play. It's just an honor to be considered by that many people."

"I think it's neat," Pirates manager Jim Tracy said. "Kudos to our fans and fans in other cities. Obviously, they're paying attention."

Minor-league tour

Kip Wells is scheduled to make his second rehabilitation start tonight for Class AA Altoona against Harrisburg. He made his first Saturday at Class A Lynchburg. "You'd rather not have to go across the countryside to make your starts, but it's part of the process," Wells said. "I've never been to Altoona. It's fun sometimes to see the affiliates."

Rogers Clemens is pitching for Houston's minor-league teams as he prepares to return to the Astros. Clemens recently purchased a huge plasma screen television and couches for the clubhouse at Class A Lexington.

Wells' plans?

"I've started with the [postgame] food," he said. "We'll work our way up to the redecorating."

Wednesday's results

INDIANAPOLIS (35-30) lost at Rochester, 4-3, in 10 innings. LHP Tom Gorzelanny (4-5, 2.60) pitched seven scoreless innings and allowed two hits. He struck out 10, walked one and threw 66 of 101 pitches for strikes. LHP C.J. Nitkowski (2.36) allowed three runs in the ninth to cost Gorzelanny the victory. RHP Scott Strickland (1.26) gave up the winning run in the 10th. RF Adam Boeve (.250) went 3 for 5.

ALTOONA (37-28) beat Harrisburg, 2-1. LHP Mike Connolly (6-3, 3.69) allowed one unearned run in three innings. RHP Chris Hernandez (2.31) pitched three scoreless innings of relief. CF Vic Buttler (.316) went 2 for 2 with a double and two walks.

LYNCHBURG (33-33) swept a doubleheader at Kinston, 7-4 in 11 innings and 5-0. In the first game, LHP Kyle Bloom (3-4, 4.29) allowed four runs in four innings. RHP Steve Duguay (1.53) pitched three scoreless innings of relief. In the second, RHP Clayton Hamilton (3-4, 4.29) pitched five scoreless innings. For the day, C Neil Walker (.269) went 1 for 6.

HICKORY (31-34) beat Kannapolis, 2-1. RHP Joe Bauserman (3-4, 3.68) pitched six scoreless innings and allowed two hits. RF Brad Corley (.312) went 3 for 4. CF Andrew McCutchen (.280) went 1 for 4 and threw out a runner at home.



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