Pirates Notebook: GM irked by winter refusals

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The Pirates have had several young players decline team requests to play winter ball, and general manager Neal Huntington sounded plenty displeased about that yesterday.

"We had hopes that a lot more of our guys would be willing to go but, in this day and age, a lot less guys are willing," he said. "It's a shame. They're missing tremendous development opportunities. I'm not sure that I've heard anyone who went down there and performed say that it didn't help them. The guys who go down there with the wrong mentality and get sent home early, they hate it. They're the ones who come back with the bad stories."

No team can compel a player to do anything in the offseason, though suggestions about winter ball, conditioning and the like are common and usually heeded.

Huntington declined to divulge which players have accepted or declined winter assignments, though the list of those accepting should be known in the next two weeks. None of the team's few established veterans was asked.

"Even some of our first-year players, second-year players have said no," Huntington said. "I hate to sound like an old-timer, but a lot of these guys don't need the money that's down there. It shouldn't be about the money. It should be about the development."

Ohlendorf done

Ross Ohlendorf yesterday was told by manager John Russell that he has been shut down for the rest of 2009, as expected after his final start the previous day.

"Ross had a tremendous year, made some great adjustments," Huntington said. "We're looking forward to putting him in a position to pitch 200-plus innings for many years to come."

Ohlendorf finished 11-10 with a staff-best 3.92 ERA, along with a career-high 176 2/3 innings.

The Pirates will go mostly with a five-man rotation the rest of the way, although Virgil Vasquez, Jeff Karstens and Eric Hacker could share starter-by-committee duty for a game or two.

Doumit's stint a cameo

Ryan Doumit's appearance in right field Saturday was no sign that he will not be the Pirates' catcher next year, Huntington said.

"Our thought process is that Doumit is still our catcher. It might allow us some creatitivity in the future, as far as thinking about how to keep his bat in the lineup, if he catches 120 games and plays out there for 20 or something to that effect. But there is no position change."

Manager John Russell initiated the move Saturday because he felt it was the best lineup for the day. He phoned Huntington to get clearance.

Buried treasure

• First baseman/outfielder Garrett Jones will be out until mid-week because of his sore right shoulder, perhaps as long as Thursday.

• Reliever Joel Hanrahan tested his sore right elbow with a throwing session yesterday and did so without incident.

• Third baseman Andy LaRoche missed a third game to illness and was asked not to come to the ballpark, in the interest of keeping his bug away from the rest of the team.

• Catcher Jason Jaramillo has a similar issue, though he was available.

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


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