Pirates in talks with Turnbow

Free-agent reliever found hard times with Brewers

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The Pirates are in discussions with free-agent reliever Derrick Turnbow.

Turnbow, 30, was Milwaukee's closer when he pitched in the 2006 All-Star Game at PNC Park, but he has fallen far since that 39-save season: He lost the closer's job in 2007 while posting a 4.63 ERA, then made eight terribly erratic appearances last season -- 15.63 ERA, 13 walks in 6 1/3 innings -- before being demoted to the minors and, ultimately, shut down by shoulder trouble.

The Brewers tried to trade Turnbow early in the season but found no takers because of his $2.5 million salary. They then placed him on irrevocable waivers to send him to the minors, thus removing him from the 40-man roster. By mid-July, he stopped pitching and, at month's end, was diagnosed with a slight tear of the labrum in his right shoulder. He chose rest over surgery.

When healthy, Turnbow is a flamethrower with a 97-mph fastball, the primary reason he has 265 strikeouts in 257 2/3 career innings. But he always has had a wild component, as evidenced by 168 walks.

Pirates general manager Neal Huntington has displayed a liking for power pitchers in the bullpen, even if they have a history of struggling with control, including his trade acquisitions of Tyler Yates and Denny Bautista and the Rule 5 draft selection of Evan Meek.

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

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