Scott Boras, agent for Pirates first-round draft pick Pedro Alvarez, took exception to team president Frank Coonelly's remark in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette yesterday that Boras was responsible for bringing the Kansas City Royals into their dispute.
INDIANAPOLIS (67-76) lost at Louisville, 6-4. RHP Mike Thompson (3-3, 4.25) allowed one unearned run and three hits in five innings. RHP Romulo Sanchez (3.46) allowed three runs in one inning of relief. LF Chris Duffy (.234) went 3 for 4 with a double, RBI and steal. CF Andrew McCutchen (.284) went 2 for 3 with a walk, RBI and steal. 2B Brian Bixler (.280) went 2 for 4 with an RBI. 3B Neil Walker (.242) went 0 for 3 with a walk and steal.
ALTOONA (64-77) beat Reading, 4-1. RHP Dan Reichert (3-4, 4.65) allowed one run and three hits in six innings. CF Jose Tabata (.272) hit his sixth home run and went 3 for 4 with two steals.
LYNCHBURG (57-80) beat Salem, 9-7. LHP Brian Holliday (6-10, 5.47) allowed five runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings. LF Jared Keel (.234) hit his 20th home run and went 1 for 4.
HICKORY (51-87) lost to Greenville, 9-2. RHP Rafael De Los Santos (3-10, 5.77) allowed three runs and two hits in four innings. He struck out one, walked seven. 3B Matt Hague (.313) went 2 for 4.
STATE COLLEGE (16-52) lost at Auburn, 3-0. RHP Kyle McPherson (1-3, 4.70) pitched five scoreless innings and allowed one hit. He struck out five, walked one.
Coonelly's charge was that, if Boras had not petitioned the Major League Baseball Players Assocation to file a grievance alleging contract agreements were completed after the midnight Aug. 15 deadline, MLB would not have ordered the Royals to remove their first-round pick, Eric Hosmer, another Boras client, from game action until the matter is settled, thus placing Hosmer's $6 million contract in jeopardy.
"Mr. Coonelly is fully aware of the grievance procedure," Boras said last night by phone from California. "For him to suggest that a representative of a player has any control over the actions of the union in filing a grievance with the commissioner's office is patently absurd."
MLB's stance in the Sept. 10 arbitration hearing will be that Hosmer's agreement was completed after Alvarez. Thus, they will argue that the Pirates, with Coonelly having worked for MLB for a decade, were not granted a special favor with an extension past midnight.
MLB allowed the Royals to sign Hosmer -- just as it approved Alvarez's contract -- and bring him to Kansas City for a news conference, then to assign him to Class A Idaho Falls. He played two games there until MLB, on Aug. 27, the same day the union filed its grievance, ordered Hosmer out of action.
Boras informed the union hours after the deadline of what he saw as a violation by the Pirates, but he did not do so in Hosmer's case because of his stance that the Kansas City deal was reached before the deadline. The union's position will be that MLB officials kept the Royals on hold on the phone, then waited until the Pirates were done to get back to them, just so another team would follow the Pirates and quash the perception of a special favor.
"Mr. Coonelly is fully aware that a certified agent has the duty to notify the union of major rules violations by a club," Boras said. "What action the union takes following a grievance is totally within its purvey. And the violations that have been reported have related to the conduct of the Pittsburgh Pirates only."
MLB's position will be that the Royals' extension was as legitimate as the Pirates'.
The Pirates do not expect to receive a ruling until two to three weeks after the hearing, general manager Neal Huntington said yesterday, so it could be late September or even October.
In the meantime, the team expects to have no contact with Alvarez, who is believed to have been advised by Boras not to speak -- to the media or the Pirates -- until after a decision.
"He's being very well protected right now," Huntington said of Alvarez.
Huntington expressed optimism about the case, saying the Pirates feel "pretty strongly, based on the information we're getting from MLB, from Frank and based on precedent."
Does Huntington feel as if Alvarez has gone back on his word after verbally agreeing to his $6 million contract?
"The reality is, this is a 21-year-old, and this is a very powerful agent who is able to exert his influence over established major league players. We have to keep that in mind, too."
Boras' stance is that, because Alvarez's agreement came after midnight, he could not -- and cannot -- sign any such contract.
The Pirates could make seven or more September callups tomorrow, including one not currently on the 40-man roster: That would be 24-year-old infielder Luis Cruz, who has impressed management by batting .328 with three home runs in 31 games since being promoted to Class AAA Indianapolis.
Outfielder Steve Pearce and infielder Brian Bixler also are likely recalls, and they will be joined by a catcher, Ronny Paulino or Robinzon Diaz, possibly both.
Three pitchers are locks for a recall -- Ross Ohlendorf, T.J. Beam and Craig Hansen -- and as many as two or three more will join them. Those could be Romulo Sanchez, Jimmy Barthmaier or Marino Salas.
The reason for so many pitchers, Huntington said, is that the Pirates want to rest some who have been used extensively. One could be Tyler Yates, who has shown visible signs of fatigue. He has made 57 appearances, which is not a high total, but the bulk came early.
All recalls are expected to join the team tomorrow in Cincinnati.
• Shortstop Jack Wilson exited after the eighth inning yesterday because of a bruised right index finger, the result of a grounder striking his bare hand. He is day to day.
• A pulled muscle in the left hip/groin area kept utilityman Doug Mientkiewicz out, but he could be back as early as tomorrow. He was hurt late in the game Saturday.
• ESPN's Jayson Stark last week quoted an unnamed scout as describing third baseman Andy LaRoche as "lethargic" since joining the Pirates. Huntington called that "harsh" but acknowledged the coaching staff reprimanded LaRoche once for failing to run out a grounder. "He's been addressed, he's embarrassed, and it won't happen again," Huntington said. "But this is not a lazy player."
• Rich Donnelly, a roving instructor, joined the Pirates' coaching staff and will remain the rest of the season.