Possible return of Nady among recent inquiries

Villone, Crosby also added to Pirates' free-agent checklist

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An X-Man sequel?

The Pirates have made initial inquiries on free-agent outfielder Xavier Nady, as well as reliever Ron Villone and shortstop Bobby Crosby, though none of those inquiries is known to have moved past that stage. In the cases of Nady and Villone, management likely will wait until closer to spring training in search of the best value.

Multiple sources confirmed the inquiries.

Nady, 31, was a popular, productive player for the Pirates in 2007-08 before being sent to the New York Yankees in general manager Neal Huntington's best trade, the one that netted Ross Ohlendorf, Jose Tabata, Daniel McCutchen and Jeff Karstens. The Yankees also got Damaso Marte.

Nady missed most of last season to Tommy John surgery on his elbow, but he is expected to be ready for the start of spring training.

His positions are right field and first base, either of which would match the Pirates' wish to supplement what they already see as a promising selection on the corners: Garrett Jones would play one or the other. If no one is added, Jeff Clement will get a shot at first base.

The New York Mets, another of Nady's former employers, also have inquired, as have the St. Louis Cardinals.

Villone, who will turn 40 next month, is one of many left-handers the Pirates have contacted. He had a 4.25 ERA in 63 appearances for the Washington Nationals last season. The Pirates' interest in Villone might be limited to a non-roster invitation to spring training.

Both players are represented by super-agent Scott Boras, as are two others in whom the Pirates have inquired, outfielder Rick Ankiel and first baseman Hank Blalock. Of these, the team's current interest in Ankiel is the highest.

Crosby, who will turn 30 next month, batted .223 for the Oakland Athletics last season, with eight home runs and 31 RBIs. He generally has shown a good glove, though. And, given his pedigree as the American League's rookie of the year in 2004, he might be viewed as having a chance to resuscitate his career.

The Pirates like Ronny Cedeno at shortstop, but they also would welcome having someone to push him, even if that just meant from a defensive standpoint.

The Colorado Rockies also have been linked to Crosby.

Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings begin Monday in Indianapolis.

NOTES -- The Pirates hired Tyrone Brooks, formerly a scout with Cleveland, to be director of baseball operations and take the place of departed Bryan Minniti. Brooks, 36, spent three years with the Indians and the previous 11 with Atlanta as director of baseball administration and several other roles. ... Mike Basso, previously the manager of Toronto's Class AAA affiliate in Las Vegas, was hired as a major league scout. ... Toshi Nagahara was hired as an assistant athletic trainer. He also will serve as the translator for new second baseman Akinori Iwamura. ... Bill Mazeroski and Andy Van Slyke will participate in the 20th annual PirateFest, Jan. 29-31 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. Current players attending: Andrew McCutchen, Paul Maholm and Andy LaRoche. Tickets for the event go on sale at 10 a.m. today.

Dejan Kovacevic can be reached at dkovacevic@post-gazette.com .


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