Pirates Notebook: Russell, staff not in trouble

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A month ago, the Pirates' front office, all the way up to owner Bob Nutting, strongly endorsed the return of manager John Russell and the full coaching staff. And despite the historic losing stretch of late, that stance has stuck.

Team president Frank Coonelly and general manager Neal Huntington each affirmed, in unambiguous terms, that they want Russell and his staff back. Within the past week, each simply answered, "No," when asked if there had been any change in how they feel. Neither elaborated because neither sees Russell or the staff as an issue and, moreover, they like what they have seen of the team's motivation and instruction over the full season.

Russell is under contract through the 2010 season, and all of his coaches have agreed to return except pitching coach Joe Kerrigan and infield instructor Perry Hill. Decisions from the latter two are expected soon, though the team has not yet set any deadline.

Claggett claimed

The Pirates claimed right-handed reliever Anthony Claggett off waivers from the New York Yankees.

To clear space on the 40-man roster, pitcher Jose Ascanio, already on the 15-day disabled list because of shoulder pain, was moved to the 60-day. That ends Ascanio's season, even though he had been rehabilitating toward pitching next week.

Claggett, 25, had a 3.07 ERA in 39 appearances for Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He struck out 43, walked 32 in 82 innings, and opponents batted .252. He also made two appearances for the Yankees and was charged with 10 runs over 2 2/3 innings.

It had not been determined yesterday if Claggett will join the Pirates, and such a decision is not expected soon.

Karstens gets nod

Jeff Karstens will be the one summoned from the bullpen for the spot start tonight against Los Angeles, manager John Russell choosing him "because he's done it before."

This will be Karstens' 11st start, the first since June 5, but Russell is hoping to get 4-5 innings out of him. After that, Russell will choose from Donnie Veal, Denny Bautista or Eric Hacker.

Buried treasure

• Reliever Chris Bootcheck left the team because his wife gave birth to a girl, Olivia, in Atlanta.

• Pedro Alvarez went 0 for 3 with a walk in the United States' 5-3 victory against Cuba yesterday in World Cup play in Italy.

• Yukio Hatoyama, recently elected prime minister of Japan, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch tonight.

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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