Pirates Notebook: Chicago stay makes history

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CHICAGO -- If it seemed unique that the Pirates did not have to pack their bags or change hotels to get from one road series to the next yesterday, that is because it was.

The Elias Sports Bureau confirmed that this marked the first time in Major League Baseball history that any team stayed in Chicago to play the White Sox and Cubs in consecutive full series, and it is possible that it was the first time any team stayed in any single road city for as long as these six days.

The closest anyone had come: In 2007, the Houston Astros played three games against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field, then a rainout makeup against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Whatever its historical significance, the Pirates were not complaining.

"Stayed right there in the hotel," outfielder Nyjer Morgan said. "Pretty nice. Didn't even move my toothbrush."

The Cubs were not so fortunate: They played Sunday afternoon in San Diego, and their charter home did not land until the wee hours of the morning.

Pinch-hits, anyone?

Pirates manager John Russell has been mostly happy with his bench, but not with the pinch-hitting. In particular, Eric Hinske is 4 for 14 in that duty, Ramon Vazquez 2 for 9, Craig Monroe 0 for 13 with six strikeouts.

"Those guys came from the American League, where you get four at-bats every time you're in the lineup, not one, so there's an adjustment" Russell said. "They've done well when they start, but we need the pinch-hits, too."

Overall, the pinch-hitters are batting .234 without a home run.

Cubs missing a few

The Cubs, already ailing in the standings, were missing a few bodies, too.

First baseman Derrek Lee was a late scratch from the lineup because of a flu bug that hit him in San Diego. Second baseman Bobby Scales was scratched, too, for the same reason. And reliever Carlos Marmol left the team for the game last night and the one tonight to be with his wife in New York for the delivery of their child.

Buried treasure

• Pirates reliever Craig Hansen had extensive tests performed on his neck and upper back yesterday in Pittsburgh, but results are not expected to be known until today.

• Outfielder Jose Tabata, one of the Pirates' top prospects out because of a strained hamstring, will fly to Bradenton, Fla., today to begin baseball-type rehabilitation later this week with a goal of being ready to return to Class AA Altoona's lineup next month, director of player development Kyle Stark said.

• A significant storm is expected to blanket the Midwest today, and the game tonight is considered in jeopardy. The Pirates visit Wrigley Field twice more this season, so makeup scheduling should not be difficult.

Dejan Kovacevic can be reached at dkovacevic@post-gazette.com . Catch more on the Pirates at the PG's PBC Blog .


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