Pirates Notebook: Astacio attacked teammate with bat

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WASHINGTON -- The reason the Pirates released pitching prospect Olivo Astacio, two sources confirmed yesterday, was that he attacked another player with a bat earlier in the week during extended spring training in Bradenton, Fla.

Astacio and the other player were having an argument, the sources said, and Astacio struck the player's leg with a swing of his bat. He swung again and missed before the incident was broken up.

The other player -- who was not identified -- is not seriously injured, and no charges have been filed. But Pirates management, already wary of Astacio's troubled past throughout his professional career, promptly released him Thursday.

Minor-league report
Friday's results

INDIANAPOLIS (15-14) won at Norfolk, 9-3. RHP Adam Bernero (0-0, 2.25), pitching for the first time since 2006 because of elbow surgery, allowed two runs, one earned, and four hits in four innings. He struck out one and walked four. LHP Sean Burnett (1.04) pitched two scoreless innings of relief with one hit and one strikeout. RF Steve Pearce (.243) hit his third home run, a three-run shot, and went 2 for 5. CF Andrew McCutchen (.297) went 1 for 3 with a walk and two steals. 3B Neil Walker (.189) went 0 for 5 with two strikeouts.

ALTOONA (11-16) beat Erie, 10-9. RHP Jimmy Barthmaier (2-0, 5.52) allowed five runs, four earned, and eight hits in 41/3 innings. RF Brad Corley (.305) went 3 for 5 with a double and RBI. CF James Boone (.302) went 2 for 4 with an RBI.

LYNCHBURG (12-16) lost to Kinston, 7-4. RHP Mike Crotta (3-2, 3.16) allowed two unearned runs and three hits in five innings. 2B Angel Gonzalez (.255) went 3 for 5 with a double and two RBIs.

HICKORY (15-14) lost at Savannah, 9-6. RHP Emilis Guerrero (0-2, 6.27) allowed seven runs, six earned, and eight hits in six innings. CF Marcus Davis (.261) went 2 for 4 with a double and triple.

Astacio, 23, was an expensive Latin American signing for Boston in 2002, but the Red Sox suspended him for disciplinary reasons in 2005, and he sat out the entire season.

The Pirates' previous management signed him the following year, and he rose to Class AA Altoona by the final month of last season.

But he pitched only one game for the Curve before breaking his hand during a fight.

The Pirates, who on Thursday described their release of Astacio as a "significant violation of organizational policy," had no further comment yesterday.

Wilson set back

Shortstop Jack Wilson likely will not begin his rehabilitation at Altoona today, as had been planned, after he was forced yesterday to leave in the second inning of an extended spring training game in Bradenton.

The Pirates described it as new soreness in his strained left calf, but called it a minor setback. More will be known after further tests this morning.

Wilson had been expected to join the team Tuesday in Pittsburgh, but that will not happen until he goes two or three games in the minors without being injured.

Aggressive infield

More than once, manager John Russell has used a drawn-in infield in uncommon situations, preferring to try to cut off any runs rather than conceding one.

That, he explained, was the case in the second inning Thursday, when Washington had runners at second and third with one out for the No. 8 hitter, Wil Nieves. Zach Duke fell behind, 2-0, then came across the plate with a fastball that was shot just past second baseman Freddy Sanchez for two runs.

"It depends on the situation, from the hitter to the type of pitcher you have," Russell said. "They've got their No. 8 guy up there, and Zach had been getting ground balls. It's a show of confidence in the pitcher. He got a grounder there, too, but it didn't work out."

Why not concede the run so early in a scoreless game?

Or work around Nieves and bring up the pitcher?

"A lot of times, you'll look at those. But we thought we could get out of that one with no runs and, if we didn't, we could come back from two runs. It didn't work out."

LaRoche backs off

First baseman Adam LaRoche, 3 for 28 against left-handers, was rested last night in favor of Doug Mientkiewicz.

LaRoche has had marginally better results lately, with five hits in his past 15 at-bats, and he credits that to his backing away from the plate about a week ago.

Last year, it was the other way around.

"Right," he said. "I was too far off, then came in, and things started to click. This year, I've been getting busted inside, and that seems to be the book, so I'll adjust like this."

Buried treasure

• Starter Tom Gorzelanny's lower back remained "a little tight," Russell said. Gorzelanny did not have his scheduled side session yesterday but still could have it today and take his next turn Tuesday. If that does not happen, Duke could pitch Tuesday, with Gorzelanny bumped back to Wednesday.

• Altoona reliever Pat Bresnehan, one of the Pirates' top pitching prospects, was placed on the minor-league disabled list with shoulder and forearm fatigue. The Pirates are calling the move precautionary. Bresnehan, 23, has a 2.19 ERA but showed uncharacteristic wildness.

Josh Shortslef, who missed all of spring training to shoulder trouble, was summoned from extended spring to replace Bresnehan in Altoona.

Jamie Romak, the Class A outfielder acquired in the LaRoche trade, joined Lynchburg after missing all of spring training to elbow surgery.


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