Pirates Notebook: Wilson seeking escape from long plunge

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NEW YORK -- Just one month ago, Jack Wilson was enjoying exactly the offensive revitalization he had sought in bulking up 20 pounds this past offseason.

Monday's results

INDIANAPOLIS (43-38) lost at Toledo, 4-3. LHP Mike Connolly (1-2, 5.74) allowed three runs, two earned, and four hits in six innings. 3B Yurendell DeCaster (.258) hit his sixth home run and went 2 for 3 with two RBIs. CF Chris Duffy (.250) led off and went 1 for 4 with a strikeout.

ALTOONA (48-33) beat Akron, 10-0. RHP Landon Jacobsen (8-6, 3.02) pitched seven scoreless innings and allowed two hits. LF Nyjer Morgan (.381) went 4 for 5 with two runs, two RBIs and a stolen base.

LYNCHBURG (37-42) lost to Frederick, 9-4. RHP Dustin Craig (2-4, 3.47) allowed five runs in 4 1/3 innings. 1B Mike Carlin (.281) went 2 for 4 with two RBIs. C Neil Walker (.242) went 0 for 4.

HICKORY (36-43) lost at Asheville, 10-2. RHP Joe Bauserman (3-6, 3.89) allowed seven runs, four earned, in five innings. CF Andrew McCutchen (.272) went 1 for 4 with a strikeout.

WILLIAMSPORT (5-7) lost at Batavia, 3-1. RHP Brad Clapp (1-1, 3.60) allowed three runs in five innings. RHP Nicolas Suero (2.70) pitched three scoreless innings of relief.

Now, he is looking to ... well, revitalize that revitalization.

"It bothers me to no end that, for two months, I was helping the team out of the two-hole and, for the past month, I haven't done anything to help the team," the Pirates' shortstop said yesterday. "I've hurt them more than anything, especially where I am in the order. That's the most frustrating part."

Wilson's average was .309 on the final day of May, but a monster-sized June swoon -- .190, four extra-base hits, five RBIs -- helped it plummet to .258. And the plunge goes on: After a 1-for-4 showing last night against the New York Mets, he is 4 for 40 in his past 10 games.

"When you start to slide ... a couple days go by when you don't get hits ... that turns to a week ... next thing you know, it's a month of nothing, really."

When Wilson struggled last year, he pointed to physical aspects, mostly the inability to get in shape before the season because of an appendectomy.

No such issue now.

"I feel fine. It's just one of those things you've got to work out, to figure out what's going wrong."

So, it is mental then?

"It feels a lot like last year. I'm not really confident going up to the plate. But the good thing is, I know I've been able to perform before, so I know how to get out of it. I'm pretty positive that, with a change or two, I should be all right."

Reyes likes him, anyway

Jose Reyes, New York's 22-year-old shortstop who beat out Wilson in fan voting for the starting berth in the All-Star Game, is having a breakout year. He is batting .296 and is fresh off back-to-back National League player of the week awards.

He did not conceal his enthusiasm for visiting Pittsburgh next week.

"It's such an honor, my first time as an All-Star," Reyes said. "I can't tell you how excited I am, about the game and everything. It's a beautiful ballpark. I haven't really seen the city too much, but maybe now I'll have my chance."

Of Wilson, he said, "He's a very good player. He plays the game as hard as any shortstop."

No Pedro at PNC?

Pedro Martinez -- another of the Mets' six All-Stars -- was a late scratch last night because of a troublesome hip, and he might miss the big event next week at PNC Park, too.

The official word from the Mets was that Martinez might return to the rotation Saturday, but it seems far more likely, others were saying, that he not only will miss that start but also use the All-Star break to heal.

Martinez slipped and fell on his right hip May 26, and his performance has slipped, too. He was 7-1 with a 2.50 ERA through that start and went 2-3 with a 6.23 ERA in June.

He has been selected for seven All-Star Games and was MVP in 1999.

Buried treasure

Utilityman Jose Hernandez sat out last night and is expected to do so again this afternoon because of a stiff lower back. "I was just starting to swing well, too," he said. "But it feels better."

Josh Sharpless, the Pirates' top pitching prospect at Class AAA Indianapolis, on his selection to the Futures Game. "It's a big honor to be selected for something like that, but it means so much more to have it at PNC," he said yesterday. Sharpless hails from Freedom, Beaver County.

Jason Bay is one of six Pirates outfielders elected to start in the All-Star Game. The others: Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Dave Parker, Barry Bonds and Andy Van Slyke.

Dejan Kovacevic can be reached at dkovacevic@post-gazette.com .


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