The Pirates made two moves yesterday in an attempt to solidify their bench for the near and distant future.
First, as expected, they optioned utilityman Luis Cruz to Class AAA Indianapolis to clear space on the 25-man roster for newly arrived outfielder Delwyn Young.
Then, they traded infielder Andy Phillips off the Indianapolis roster to the Chicago White Sox for Class A reliever Michael Dubee, the primary motive being that Cruz gets as much playing time at as many positions as possible in Indianapolis.
"We like Luis and believe he can be valuable to a team," manager John Russell said. "The best way for him to do that right now is to get a lot of at-bats and move around the field."
Cruz, 24, can play all three outfield spots, everywhere in the infield except first base and has limited experience at catcher. He will add first base to his repertoire in Indianapolis.
In the meantime, the Pirates surely strengthened their bench immediately with Young taking the place of the light-hitting Cruz. Young, 26, has a .267 average in 110 major-league games but was a career .303 hitter in the minors, with 105 home runs.
"It gives us an extra bat we could use," Russell said. "No offense to Luis, but he was more of a defensive guy. With Delwyn, we can pinch-hit, double-switch and spot-start him."
Dubee, 23, will join Class A Lynchburg. Last season, he was 5-7 with a 4.37 ERA in 30 appearances (13 starts) for Class A Winston-Salem. This season, he made two relief appearances with a 6.00 ERA.
Young arrived in Pittsburgh early yesterday and reiterated his delight at being dealt by the Los Angeles Dodgers, whose depth at his positions -- corner outfield and second base -- appeared to block him.
"There are a lot of good players over there, and there's a road block every which way you look," Young said. "You come over here, and you have opportunity everywhere you look. So, it's a good thing to come over here and be a part of that."
Timing is everything: Los Angeles lost utilityman Doug Mientkiewicz, formerly of the Pirates, to a separated shoulder late Thursday night. Had Young still been with the Dodgers, he surely would have replaced Mientkiewicz.
Young said he still views himself as a starter -- "I don't think anyone sees themselves as a bench player" -- adding that he would be plenty comfortable returning to second base, where he spent most of his minor-league career.
• With Cruz gone, Russell was asked: Who will be the emergency catcher? "Good question," he replied. Might it be Russell, the former catcher? "No chance."
• Freddy Sanchez, on that 17-pitch at-bat against Houston's Chris Sampson. "It was a lot of fun. We had a pretty battle there, and he gave me a couple looks that made me laugh. I wish I'd gotten a hit there, but you tip your cap to him."
• Jack Wilson, for the second time in three games, was a late scratch because of the left-hand middle finger he bruised Monday. Ramon Vazquez replaced him.
• Atlanta's lineup will be significantly weakened for this series without third baseman Chipper Jones (thumb) and shortstop Yuniel Escobar (abdomen).