Craig Wilson is back.
The Pirates' new management yesterday signed Wilson, a productive and popular first baseman and outfielder for the franchise in 2001-06, to a one-year, minor-league contract and assigned him to Class AAA Indianapolis. The contract, achieved in on-again, off-again talks that began in early March, calls for a $500,000 salary at the major-league level, plus as much as $500,000 in performance bonuses based on plate appearances.
INDIANAPOLIS (4-2) won at Syracuse, 4-3. RHP Bryan Bullington (0-1, 5.40) allowed three runs and five hits in five innings. He struck out four and walked three. RHP Romulo Sanchez (1-0, 2.45) pitched three scoreless innings of relief, allowing one hit. RF Steve Pearce (.240) went 2 for 4 with two RBIs and threw out a runner at second base. CF Andrew McCutchen (.208) went 1 for 5. 3B Neil Walker (.118) went 0 for 3 with a walk.ALTOONA (1-5) lost to Trenton, 5-2. LHP Kyle Bloom (0-2, 11.88) allowed five runs in 4 2/3 innings. LF Jonel Pacheco (.421) hit his second home run and went 1 for 4.
LYNCHBURG (2-2) won at Winston-Salem, 7-5. LHP Danny Moskos (0-0, 3.60), the Pirates' first-round draft pick last summer making his professional debut as a starter, allowed five runs -- two earned -- and six hits in five innings. He struck out one, walked none and got 11 ground-ball outs. C Steve Lerud (.308) hit his first home run and went 1 for 3 with a walk.
HICKORY (4-2) lost at Greensboro, 6-1. RHP Matt Foust (0-2, 15.43) allowed four runs in four innings.
"Craig Wilson has been signed primarily to help Indianapolis," general manager Neal Huntington said. "But, if he returns to pre-injury form, I could see him helping the major-league club."
Wilson, 31, was traded by the Pirates to the New York Yankees in July 2006 for starter Shawn Chacon, and his progress has been arduous since then.
In June 2007, after failing to stick with the Atlanta Braves -- 24 games, .172 average, one home run -- Wilson had arthroscopic surgery to relieve his arthritic right shoulder. A month later, he signed with the Chicago White Sox and batted .180 in 15 games with Class AAA Charlotte.
This spring, he signed a minor-league contract with Cincinnati, but the Reds cut him on the opening day of spring training because he had limited range in the shoulder and failed a physical. They never saw him hit or throw, though he insisted he could do both at full capacity.
Wilson was unavailable for comment yesterday because of Indianapolis' game in Syracuse, N.Y., -- he did not play -- but he told the Post-Gazette a month ago that he was "100 percent ready to play" and reiterated his long-standing desire to return to Pittsburgh, where he and his family kept their home.
While with the Pirates, he batted .266 with 94 home runs.
• First baseman Adam LaRoche had his sore right thumb examined Monday night, and no tear was found. But he is not, as Huntington put it, "out of the woods" yet. "If he gets jammed badly again, it will be really sore again," Huntington said. LaRoche hopes to play tonight.
• The Pirates re-signed reliever Juan Perez to a minor-league contract, as Huntington had indicated could happen after releasing him in spring training. Perez has elbow ligament damage but might not need surgery.
• Expect Luis Rivas, who has performed poorly at shortstop since taking Jack Wilson's place, to sit in favor of Brian Bixler tonight.