The Pirates' season definitely is coming to a close.
But is Kevin McClatchy's tenure as the team's chief executive officer and managing general partner also coming to a close? McClatchy has said since the All-Star break that he'll talk about his situation when the season ends.
"I'm not changing my mind on that," McClatchy said. "That won't happen. Since the All-Star break, all I've cared about -- and all this organization has cared about -- is the team playing better in the second half."
The second half is all but over.
"I'll be happy to talk at the end of the season," McClatchy said.
Manager Jim Tracy yesterday discussed second baseman Jose Castillo's second-half offensive problems.
"Strike-zone discipline," Tracy said. "You can start with that -- and maybe end with that. I've seen him get himself out a lot this season.
"He's a very talented player -- and an extremely gifted player. It's there for him. But this game forces you to adjust. You don't become a star player in the major leagues on [just] raw ability."
There seems no question that Castillo has added some bulk since last season.
"He's not a small guy," Tracy said. "He's growing up, and his body's filling out."
Perhaps, then, Castillo physically isn't a second baseman anymore.
"Maybe he's not," Tracy said.
That could lend a little more importance to Jose Bautista having started two games at second base recently. And to Castillo's taking ground balls at third base for about five minutes during batting practice yesterday.
Pirates closer Mike Gonzalez, out with left elbow tendinitis since Aug. 25, is scheduled to throw another bullpen session today as the days dwindle for the left-hander pitching in a game again this season.
Gonzalez said he has thrown breaking pitches with no problem but that the Pirates "want to see a little more zip" on his fastball.
"We're having open discussions on it," Gonzalez said. "That's kind of geared me toward throwing another bullpen [today]."
"We're hopeful [Gonzalez will pitch]," Tracy said, "but if, medically, it's best he doesn't, then Mike won't pitch."
Gonzalez wants to pitch again so he can feel secure about his elbow entering the offseason.
"One outing or one hitter," he said. "I just want to be pain-free and have that peace of mind."
A Hoffman fan
Gonzalez loved watching San Diego closer Trevor Hoffman pitch Saturday and Sunday when the right-hander tied then broke the major-league record for career saves.
"That was pretty much the most unbelievable thing I've seen in baseball -- just watching him go out there and go about his business," Gonzalez said. "Some of the guys were making fun of me that if I heard all that noise and I heard the bells ringing I'd be throwing it up in the backstop. That's true.
"You see a guy like him with all his experience and maturity and what he's done, it's awesome to see, man. I had goose bumps both times he went out there -- Saturday and Sunday.
"But Sunday was something else. I mean, I've got 24 saves this year. Guys were making fun -- 'Well, you've got 400-and-some to catch up.' For him to do it so long and be so good at it, it's something else."
No Pirates-Indians in '07
The Cleveland Indians yesterday announced their tentative schedule for the 2007 season, and the Pirates aren't on it. The Indians have six interleague series on their schedule -- home-and-home with Cincinnati, at Florida and at Washington and home against Atlanta and Philadelphia.
In good company
Ronny Paulino entered the game last night with a .312 batting average and 120 appearances as a catcher this season. The last rookie to play in at least 100 games as a catcher and hit at least .310 in a season was Mike Piazza (.318) of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1993.