Pirates Notebook: ESPN honors Jack Wilson's efforts

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WASHINGTON -- The votes were in, and Jack Wilson wasn't sure where he finished.

He expected he would have heard about a triumph via text, e-mail or word of mouth, so he simply figured that ESPN's Baseball Tonight failed to anoint as the night's No. 1 "Web Gem" his backhand stab into short left field and high-arcing throw to get out the Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman in the fourth inning Monday.

"Me and Freddy," Wilson joked of Freddy Sanchez, his longtime California buddy and the Pirates' second baseman who earlier won the ballyhooed defensive play of the day, "we only do [number] ones.

"If we don't make that, we don't pay any attention."

For the record, he was No. 3, behind a tumble-over-the-foul-territory-wall by Tampa's Ben Zobrist and an outstretched, outfield catch by a horizontal Ryan Braun of Milwaukee.

This came two nights after his dive to his left and his throw from the knees against Colorado was the show's No. 4 Saturday.

The television show, however, named Wilson as the best performer Monday for his 4 for 4 at the plate with two RBIs and a walk.

As for the Seattle Times' blog report about the Mariners discussing a trade for Wilson, the Pirates' shortstop joked of such talk, which regularly dogs him every July and winter meetings: "That's an early start, huh?"

Praise for coaches

Manager John Russell singled out Wilson and Sanchez as unique talents, but he wanted to point out how the Pirates' overall defense seems to get overlooked. The club began last night ranked fourth-best in the majors in fielding percentage, at .988.

"That's fine. I'd rather it be overlooked," Russell said. "I think we play very good defense. I think our staff deserves, I would say, a lot of the credit. Perry [Hill]'s done a phenomenal job. Gary [Varsho]'s done a phenomenal job. ... The players have really bought into [their approach] because it's enjoyable. Enjoying what you're doing out there makes you play better. I hate to take anything away from the players, but Perry and Gary deserve a lot of credit."

Back on top

Wilson kiddingly looked at the posted lineup and pretended to be unable to place that name atop the Pirates' order. "Who is this guy?" he asked within earshot of the closest locker, occupied by none other than leadoff man Nyjer Morgan.

Morgan returned after missing three games because of a slightly strained left hamstring.

Leading off last night, he doubled on a slow roller down the right-field line and scored on Sanchez's single.

His replacement, Delwyn Young,was 6 for 15 with four RBIs and three runs in the Pirates' 3-0 Morgan-less spurt.

"It was like Nate," Russell said of the cautious approach, comparing it to outfielder Nate McLouth's oblique muscle last month. "You don't want to mess around with those things."

Buried treasure

• Spotted around the clubhouse and on the field for batting practice: Pirates owner Bob Nutting.

• Russell on closer Matt Capps after his one inning, one hit, one walk and one run in his second outing after going back to the garage for tinkering with pitching coach Joe Kerrigan: "We're starting to see the command come back a little better. I really like the shape of his slider [Monday]. He really had some good changeups. His fastball had life, angled down -- which is very encouraging to see. But he was just missing off the plate. Once he gets that two inches back, that'll be the guy we're used to seeing."


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