MIAMI -- Pirates general manager Dave Littlefield expressed confidence that he will make more than one deal before the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline, reiterating that his counterparts covet the veterans he is offering.
"We do have a lot of interest, and I do anticipate making a couple of trades," he said yesterday from Pittsburgh. "There has been a great deal of interest in our players, as far as volume and conversations. Now, what ends up getting done ..."
He paused briefly.
"The people we have out there in the trade market basically are viewed as extra pieces, quite frankly, as they are with our team right now. They're pieces that maybe can help as a bat off the bench or somewhere else."
The primary pieces getting shopped are those eligible for free agency after this season, meaning outfielders Jeromy Burnitz and Craig Wilson, third baseman Joe Randa, first baseman Sean Casey, starter Kip Wells and reliever Roberto Hernandez.
Littlefield strongly suggested that he will not be parting with players the Pirates can keep for the long term.
"We've had some discussion about those kinds of trades. Could they be a possibility? Sure. But most likely, you wait until the offseason for those types of trades."
Trade winds blowing
With a week to the deadline:
Now that the San Francisco Giants are out, the Oakland Athletics might be the next most likely destination for Casey, a source said yesterday.
The Pirates were one of four teams scouting Detroit prospect Humberto Sanchez Wednesday in Toledo, Ohio, the Boston Globe reported yesterday. It likely will take quite a bit to get Sanchez, a right-handed starter considered one of the gems of the Tigers' system.
The Seattle Mariners -- a team seeking more offense -- scouted the Pirates' game yesterday.
Casey shelved again
Casey was a late scratch yesterday because of a tight left hamstring. Manager Jim Tracy described his status as day to day and did not rule out he could return tonight to open the series in Milwaukee.
Casey was injured legging out a double in the fourth inning Saturday night. He remained in the game and was in the initial lineup yesterday morning but, after tests were taken, was replaced at first base by Jose Hernandez.
Littlefield said the Pirates could consider a recall of center fielder Chris Duffy after the trade deadline: "It's hard to say when he'll return, but he's someone we'll be keeping a very close eye on. As the dust settles from the trading deadline, we'll take a look at it." Duffy is batting .329 (25 for 76) with 12 runs, 15 RBIs and 10 steals in 19 games as Class AAA Indianapolis' leadoff man.
Starter John Van Benschoten, the Pirates' first-round draft pick in 2001, pitched a four-inning simulated game yesterday in Bradenton, Fla., and remains on pace to return to full competition by early August.
Florida's current rotation is one of 10 in the past 50 years to have three rookies with eight or more victories, now that Josh Johnson, Scott Olsen and Ricky Nolasco each has that many. The 1993 Pirates were one of those with Steve Cooke, Blas Minor and Paul Wagner.
INDIANAPOLIS (55-44) won at Richmond, 8-6. RHP Marty McLeary (1-2, 2.72) allowed five runs and nine hits in five innings. RHP Jonah Bayliss (1.65) pitched two perfect innings of relief for his 14th save. CF Chris Duffy (.329) went 3 for 4 with his second home run, a walk and three RBIs. 2B Yurendell DeCaster (.259) went 2 for 5 with his ninth home run.
ALTOONA (57-42) lost at Bowie, 5-1. RHP Wardell Starling (2-2, 3.28) allowed three runs in 6 1/3 innings. CF Vic Buttler (.298) went 2 for 4 with a steal.
LYNCHBURG (41-56) beat Wilmington, 3-2, on an RBI single by 1B Mike Carlin (.285) in the 10th inning. Carlin also doubled in five at-bats. RHP Matt Lorenzo (0-2, 2.70) allowed two unearned runs in six innings. RHP Yoann Torrealba (4.90) and RHP Steve Duguay (2.29) each pitched two perfect innings of relief.
HICKORY (47-52) was off.
WILLIAMSPORT (9-19) lost at Hudson Valley, 3-2. RHP Patrick Bresnehan (0-4, 3.34) allowed one run and two hits in five innings. C Francis Poni (.429) went 3 for 4.