Jason Bay races to pick up the ball in short left-center field after outfielder Rajai Davis overran a fly ball off the bat of Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki in the third inning yesterday.
The issue sure to loom largest over the Pirates for the rest of the year will be the status of general manager Dave Littlefield, particularly with owner Bob Nutting searching for a new chief executive officer who would rank above Littlefield and, presumably, have the authority to hire and fire.
Littlefield was asked if, with a new CEO on the horizon, he had any concerns about his future.
INDIANAPOLIS (49-47) lost to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, 3-2. LHP Michael Tejera (3-2, 3.89) allowed one run and eight hits in 7 2/3 innings. He struck out two and walked two. RHP Jonah Bayliss (7.59) gave up two runs in the ninth for his second blown save. LF Michael Ryan (.269) hit his eighth home run and went 2 for 5 with a double and two RBIs. SS Brian Bixler (.294) went 3 for 5.
ALTOONA (48-46) beat Bowie, 10-4. RHP Dewon Brazelton (2-2, 2.54) allowed four runs in six innings. LF Jason Delaney (.323) went 5 for 5 with a double and two RBIs. 1B Steve Pearce (.324) hit his 23rd home run -- 12th with the Curve -- and went 2 for 5 with two RBIs. CF Andrew McCutchen (.241) went 1 for 5 with an RBI. 3B Neil Walker (.292) went 0 for 3 with two walks.
LYNCHBURG (42-50) beat Winston-Salem, 6-3. RHP Jean Garavito (5-5, 2.82) allowed three runs in eight innings. 2B Shelby Ford (.273) went 3 for 5 with three doubles and three RBIs.
HICKORY (42-52) won at Delmarva, 4-3 in 11 innings. RHP Jared Hughes (7-6, 3.79) allowed two runs, one earned, in seven innings. RF Jonel Pacheco (.302) went 4 for 5 with his 54th RBI.
STATE COLLEGE (14-14) won at Hudson Valley, 5-4. LHP Tony Watson (5-0, 1.87) allowed three runs, two earned, in six innings. RF Miles Durham (.264) went 2 for 4 with a double.
BRADENTON (10-14) beat the Reds, 6-5. RHP Carlos Amaro (1-0, 3.79) allowed two runs in 5 1/3 innings. 2B Caleb Fields (.274) went 3 for 4.
"No," he replied. "I don't approach my job any differently now than I did the first day I started. We work as hard as we can, work as smart as we can and try to be as effective as possible in my role and stay as focused as I can on helping us win more games."
Nutting said on July 6 that he will make no decision on Littlefield or manager Jim Tracy -- each of whom has a contract that expires after the 2008 season -- until after the current season. But Nutting also made clear upon becoming the principal owner in January that he will demand accountability, and the Pirates are careening toward a 15th consecutive losing season, their sixth full one under Littlefield.
Littlefield, 47, was hired July 13, 2001, and is the 11th-most tenured general manager in Major League Baseball. The Pirates are 421-556 for a .430 winning percentage under his watch, lowest of any general manager in that group.
Pirates, Chacon to talk
The Pirates and reliever Shawn Chacon, who has expressed interest in a contract extension, are expected to begin talks toward that goal early next week.
It is not known what Chacon, already the team's highest-paid pitcher at $3.8 million, might seek.
If Chacon is not signed, he is a prime candidate to be moved by the July 31 trading deadline, given that he can be a free agent after this season.
Tough day for Davis
Center fielder Rajai Davis went 2 for 4 in the 5-3 loss to the Colorado Rockies yesterday, which is fine for a leadoff man. But he had one regrettable third inning.
First, he slipped and fell on a routine popup in the top of the inning, handing Troy Tulowitzki a double. Tulowitzki would later score.
In the bottom half, Davis reached on a fielder's choice but was picked off the bag for the second time in as many starts. He also was caught off first Saturday in Atlanta.
Asked about that issue, Tracy said, "This is a very young player. How many major-league games has he played? To expect absolute perfection from a young player like that, it's very difficult to ask."
Davis, 26, has played 625 games in the minors, 39 in the majors.
Tracy said he will decide by tomorrow whether or not to keep John Van Benschoten as his Sunday starter. If Van Benschoten is skipped, which seems the most likely scenario, Shane Youman will be bumped up a day.
Ronny Paulino returned behind the plate after Ryan Doumit caught Van Benschoten and Youman. Tracy suggested that formula could remain in place, mostly because of an interest in surrounding his top three starters with the best defense. Another factor, he said, will be getting Doumit's bat into the lineup against right-handed pitchers.
Even though Houston ace Roy Oswalt made a rare relief appearance Tuesday, he remains the Astros' scheduled starter tomorrow at PNC Park. Wandy Rodriguez and Woody Williams will pitch the final two games.