Pirates Notebook: Dotel, Chacon on relief radar

But team wary of committing too much for bullpen help

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Octavio Dotel is out there, as is old acquaintance Shawn Chacon.

And the Pirates have spoken with the representatives for each of those free-agent relievers.

Sounds like a match, right?

Maybe not.

The Pirates, although very much in need of the experienced, right-handed, late-inning relief that Dotel and Chacon could bring, are determined not to commit to too long a contract term or too high a salary to a commodity that nearly everyone in Major League Baseball acknowledges is the sport's least predictable.

At the same time, a deal on either front cannot be ruled out. Just last week, the Pirates made a competitive bid for Luis Vizcaino, another experienced pitcher in this mold, who wound up taking $7.5 million over two years from the Colorado Rockies.

Dotel, 34, once was a dominant closer whose past three seasons have been derailed by injuries. This year, he had a 4.11 ERA in 33 appearances for the Kansas City Royals and Atlanta Braves, after which the Braves declined his $5.5 million option for 2008.

Still, several teams are lining up, and Dotel could command a salary of more than $4 million and a term of at least two years.

Chacon, 29, made $3.85 million with the Pirates last season and will be in that range again. Some teams view him as a starter, which could raise his price.

On other free-agent fronts, the Pirates:

• Have maintained interest in former Detroit Tigers starter Chad Durbin.

• Are not among the dozen or so teams to have inquired about starter Mark Prior, agent John Boggs confirmed yesterday.

Rovers all over

The Pirates named four new minor-league roving instructors to join hitting coordinator Gregg Ritchie and field coordinator Jeff Banister:

• Former Pirates second baseman Carlos Garcia is the infield coordinator. Garcia, 40, spent the past three years as the Seattle Mariners' third base coach. He replaces Tony Beasley, now the Pirates' third base coach.

Troy Buckley is the pitching coordinator. Buckley, 39, spent the past seven years as pitching coach at Long Beach State University. He fills a position that was vacant for most of last season after the departure of Gary Ruby.

Kimera Bartee is the outfield and baserunning coordinator. Bartee, 35, spent the past three years as a coach with the Baltimore Orioles' Class A affiliate. His position previously was held by Gary Redus.

Brad Fischer is the catching coordinator, a franchise first for that role. Fischer, 51, spent the past 29 seasons in the Oakland Athletics' system, including time as a player, manager and instructor.

Littlefield to Cubs

Dave Littlefield, fired as the Pirates' general manager in September, was hired by the Chicago Cubs as a professional scout.

Littlefield still will get the bulk of the $1 million salary the Pirates owe him for 2008, minus his salary with the Cubs.

Bernero signed

The Pirates added a depth starter by signing Adam Bernero, a right-hander, to a one-year, minor-league contract.

Bernero, 31, missed all of 2007 after having reconstructive elbow surgery in March while with the Boston Red Sox in spring training. He has made 37 starts in the majors out of his 150 appearances and has an 11-27 record with a 5.91 ERA. In the minors, he has a 3.17 ERA in 101 starts.

Kuwata chooses Pirates

Reliever Masumi Kuwata accepted the Pirates' offer to return, agreeing to a one-year, minor-league contract with an invitation to the major-league camp in spring training.

Kuwata, 39, who had a 9.43 ERA in 19 appearances before being released, told reporters in Japan yesterday that he chose the Pirates over similar deals from the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers.



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