The Pirates' upper management made known earlier in the week its view that manager John Russell's coaching staff has done well enough to return for 2010.
But what if one or more members of that staff do not wish to return, based on other potential opportunities?
There could be an answer there, too: All of the coaches are on one-year contracts, but some -- it is not known which -- have club options for another year that the Pirates can exercise unilaterally. A coach still can walk away from that option, but he is not free to work for another team in that option year.
"From our standpoint, we anticipate bringing everybody back," general manager Neal Huntington said yesterday. "We hope to bring everybody back. It's really a non-issue for us. This coaching staff has done a great job with the changes we've given them, as well as a great job in helping us make some of those changes. In situations where they don't want to come back, that's out of our hands. We'll work as aggressively as we can to retain this coaching staff."
Finally, Phil Dumatrait is back.
Finally, the Pirates have an experienced left-handed reliever.
Dumatrait, out of the majors since June 19, 2008, because of reconstructive left shoulder surgery, was recalled from Class AAA Indianapolis yesterday and arrived shortly before game time. Manager John Russell said Dumatrait will pitch out of the bullpen -- usually with fresh innings rather than in one-out situations -- though he also left open that Dumatrait could start one game of the Aug. 31 doubleheader in Cincinnati.
Dumatrait had a 4.50 ERA in seven appearances in his 30-day rehabilitation stint, the most encouraging being the last: He pitched two scoreless, hitless innings Wednesday and needed just 19 pitches.
"Getting over his shoulder issues, really letting it go, was the biggest concern," Russell said. "The next step is to pitch at this level."
Reliever Jeff Karstens was placed on the bereavement list to spend time with his ailing grandmother in San Diego. He will not return until the game Tuesday at the earliest, and Russell said he could take more time if needed.
That cleared space on the 25-man roster for Dumatrait to come off the 60-day disabled list.
To clear space on the full 40-man roster, the Pirates transferred reliever Evan Meek from the 15-day disabled list to the 60 day, ending his season.
Meek, out since Aug. 11 because of a strained left oblique, was not going to be able to resume throwing until mid-September. He finished his first full season in the majors with a 3.45 ERA and .209 opponents' batting average in 41 appearances.
"It's frustrating because I still had a month and a half, and I was just getting to where I want to be," Meek said. "The positive is that I do feel like I established myself here, like I went out there confident every night that I could get the job done."
• Cincinnati's cleanup hitter, Brandon Phillips, was out of the lineup last night because of a sore left wrist. Manager Dusty Baker said he could return tonight.
• The Pirates' rotation will stay in order after the off-day Monday.
• The Reds started one player, first baseman Joey Votto, who was in their opening-day lineup. The Pirates started two, catcher Ryan Doumit and third baseman Andy LaRoche.
Dejan Kovacevic can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .