The Pirates have had contract discussions with free-agent outfielder Eric Hinske and could be close to an agreement, though none has been reached yet.
Other free-agent outfielders, including Luis Gonzalez, remain in the mix, though that surely would change if Hinske were signed.
Hinske, 31, is a .254 career hitter with 105 home runs over seven seasons with three American League teams. Last season, he batted .247 with 20 home runs and 60 RBIs in 381 at-bats for the Tampa Bay Rays, with appearances in right and left field, first base and third base.
His best season came as a rookie with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2002, when he batted .279 with 24 home runs and 84 RBIs. He never matched the latter two levels.
Like Gonzalez, Hinske is left-handed, so neither addresses the stated need for right-handed power. Unlike Gonzalez, he does not hit left-handed pitching well at all, owning a .162 mark against left-handers over the past three seasons.
Gonzalez, 41, a career .283 hitter with 354 home runs and impeccable leadership credentials, batted .261 with eight home runs and 47 RBIs in 341 at-bats with the Florida Marlins last season and is looking for a similar, bench-type role this year. Two other teams are interested, though those are not known.
"No question, Luis would welcome an opportunity to come to a team like Pittsburgh, where he can be a mentor to some of their younger players," agent Gregg Clifton said this afternoon. "He's in tremendous physical shape, just like he's always been, and he loves the role he had last year with Florida. That's what he's told me: He wants a situation like that one."
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