Pirates Notebook: Earthquake fails to register

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CHICAGO -- The Pirates' reaction to the earthquake early yesterday morning was pretty much like this: "Earthquake? What earthquake?"

"I heard about it," manager John Russell said.

"My wife told me about it," pitcher Tom Gorzelanny said. "But I didn't feel it."

Minor-league report
Friday's games
  • INDIANAPOLIS (11-5) lost to Pawtucket, 17-5. RHP Bryan Bullington (0-2, 6.75) allowed seven runs and five hits in 1 2/3 innings. He struck out one, walked two and hit a batter. RHP Romulo Sanchez (5.00) allowed four runs in one inning of relief. CF Andrew McCutchen (.237) hit his fourth home run, a two-run shot, and went 1 for 5. RF Steve Pearce (.266) went 0 for 3 with a walk. DH Craig Wilson (.162) hit his first home run, a three-run shot, and went 1 for 4..
  • ALTOONA (6-9) lost to Erie, 13-4. LHP Corey Hamman (0-3, 4.66) allowed four runs and four hits in 2 2/3 innings. LHP Dave Davidson (4.50) allowed four runs in two innings of relief. CF James Boone (.333) hit his third and fourth home runs, each a solo shot, and went 3 for 4 with a walk.
  • LYNCHBURG (6-9) won at Salem, 11-2. LHP Danny Moskos (2-0, 2.81) allowed one run and three hits in six innings for his second victory in as many professional starts. He struck out four, walked none, hit a batter and got 10 ground-ball outs. 2B Angel Gonzalez (.222) went 4 for 6 with a double, two RBIs and a steal.
  • HICKORY (9-7) beat Lexington, 8-6. RHP Rafael Delossantos (1-0, 3.21) allowed six runs and six hits in three innings. C Andrew Walker (.455), playing his third game after missing the first two weeks to an ankle injury, hit his second home run and went 3 for 4 with two doubles and two RBIs.

It seemed kind of ironic that the Pirates had spent three days in Los Angeles earlier in the week, and there was no earthquake. Then, they arrived in Chicago and ... earthquake.

The quake, centered in southern Illinois, measured 5.2 on the Richter scale. Many people in the Chicago area were awakened by it. Not any Pirates.

"I wouldn't have felt a 10," Jason Bay said. "Not after getting to bed at 7 [Thursday morning]."

The Pirates' charter from Los Angeles didn't land until about 5:45 Thursday morning.

"If I felt it, I would have thought I was dreaming," third base coach Tony Beasley said.

Wilson update

Shortstop Jack Wilson arrived Thursday in Bradenton, Fla., to continue treatment on the strained left calf that put him on the disabled list. The Pirates hope Wilson can begin doing on-field activities today or tomorrow.

"Once he starts that, hopefully, it will give us a little better timetable," Russell said.

It seems unlikely that Wilson, who will play a few games on a minor-league rehab assignment, will rejoin the Pirates before next weekend.

Ballpark history buff

Russell, like most baseball people, loves being at Wrigley Field.

"To walk onto the field early in the morning when there's nobody in the stands, I always thought that was pretty neat," Russell said. "And then there's the passion of the fans.

"It's just a great feeling to be in Wrigley Field. It's like going into Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park when nobody's there and just reflect on some of the history that's been part of it."

Pearce comes to life

Steve Pearce, who hit 31 home runs last season during his zip through the Pirates' minor-league system, finally hit his first of this season in his 59th at-bat for Class AAA Indianapolis Thursday night.

"I was hoping it wouldn't take so long to get the first one," said Pearce, who didn't hit a home run in 68 at-bats with the Pirates last season. "It feels good to get the monkey off my back."

Pearce's first home run was a grand slam off Pawtucket left-hander Michael Tejera. Pearce hit another home run in his next at-bat against Tejera.

"The weight's been lifted," Pearce said. "Once you get that weight off your shoulders, you feel like you're swinging more freely."

The 'new' Wrigley

The playing surface at Wrigley Field was redone during the offseason and has drawn rave reviews from visiting teams.

"It's great," Pirates center fielder Nate McLouth said. "It doesn't even compare to the old one. It's smooth. All the hops I had were true. It's a lot flatter. I can see the dugout now from center field."

There used to quite a slope to the field toward the dugouts.

"You can see the outfielders' feet now," Russell said. "Before, you could only see their knees."

Different approach

Not all Pirates pitchers throw a bullpen session off the mound between starts.

This season, his first as the team's pitching coach, Jeff Andrews has held a few between-start sessions on flat ground, stationing the catcher 55 feet from the pitcher.

"If they're a little fatigued or had a high pitch count [in the previous start], we use it so it doesn't tear the body down going on the slope and having to cover 60 feet, 6 inches," Andrews said. "If there's nothing specific to work on [between starts], it's a way to [keep] the feel of the pitches.

"It just softens the workload a little bit, but it still [maintains] their command and their release point. It's a quicker fresher-upper. The main thing is to exercise the elbow."

Buried treasure

• The virus that afflicted a few Pirates in Los Angeles seems to have run its course. "Everybody pretty much has a clean bill of health," Russell said.

• The Pirates made no errors yesterday for the first time since the opening game March 31.

• The Pirates have had at least one double in each of their 16 games.


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