Pirates bring back Dessens for bullpen

Has minor-league deal but good bet to make roster

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The Pirates finally have added some right-handed relief pitching.

The team and veteran Elmer Dessens agreed to a one-year, minor-league contract, the financial terms of which were not available. He is coming off a two-year, $3.4 million deal, but the money undoubtedly will be well below such a salary level.

Dessens, who will turn 37 in two weeks, had a 6.60 ERA in 12 relief appearances with the Milwaukee Brewers last season and, after being released, a 1-1 record and 7.58 ERA in five starts with the Colorado Rockies. He was slowed much of the year by shoulder and hamstring injuries.

Dessens entered Major League Baseball with the Pirates and pitched for them in 1996-98.

Given the current team's glaring need for an experienced right-handed reliever, including one who can swing into starting duty, Dessens' chances of making the 25-man roster out of spring training appear solid, even if there are further additions. The only experienced right-hander in the bullpen before his addition was closer Matt Capps, and no one previously replaced the offseason losses of Shawn Chacon and Salomon Torres.

The Pirates also signed outfielder Jose Macias and shortstop Gabe Suarez to minor-league contracts.

Macias, who will turn 34 later this month, batted .242 with two home runs for Class AAA Nashville last season and has a .256 career average in 659 games in the majors, most recently with the Chicago Cubs in 2005.

Suarez, 23, a 2004 draft pick of the Montreal Expos, has played sparingly due to injury and never above high Class A.

NOTES -- Reliever Masumi Kuwata has sent a letter to the Pirates formally informing them that he has agreed to a minor-league contract. The Pirates, in turn, have removed him from their inactive list and issued an invitation to spring training. ... First baseman Brad Eldred, cut loose by the Pirates last month, has signed a minor-league contract with the Chicago White Sox.

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


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