Pirates Notebook: Eldred homers, Castillo hurt in loss

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TAMPA, Fla. -- Big Country is making a big early impression.

Brad Eldred homered for the second consecutive game early in the Pirates' 4-3 loss to the New York Yankees yesterday at Legends Field. In his first at-bat in the second inning, he worked the count full against Mike Mussina and mashed the next pitch high and deep beyond the left-field fence.

"He can hit 'em a long way, can't he?" manager Jim Tracy said. "He's having a nice spring so far."

Eldred also homered in the intrasquad scrimmage Tuesday, a shot that landed about 450 feet from home. In Grapefruit League games, he is 3 for 6 with three RBIs and one strikeout.

No matter what happens this spring, Eldred almost surely is bound for Class AAA Indianapolis. Adam LaRoche will play first base, Eldred's position, and a bench spot is equally unlikely because it would stunt his development.

Castillo hurts foot

Third baseman Jose Castillo exited in the third because of a sprained right foot. The foot rolled awkwardly against second base when he tried to break up a double play.

Castillo gave a thumbs-up after the game and said, "It's OK." But Tracy said a bone near the front of the foot was tender and that, if that remains the case tomorrow, X-rays will be taken.

Other game highlights

Shane Youman held the Yankees' regular lineup scoreless through the first two innings, allowing two hits and striking out Alex Rodriguez. "It's good to go against a lineup like that and do well," Youman said.

Marty McLeary gave up a home run to Jorge Posada and a double in the next two innings.

John Van Benschoten took the loss. He entered in the eighth with a 3-1 lead, but lasted one-third of an inning, giving up three runs on two hits and two walks.

Nady upbeat

Outfielder Xavier Nady worked out again at Pirate City -- hitting, running and fielding -- and sounded optimistic that he can open the season on time despite the inflamed intestine that has delayed his spring training.

"I've got plenty of time to catch up," he said.

Nady said he has not received results of the colonoscopy taken Wednesday, but added that he was not worried about having a chronic condition.

"My biggest concern is just getting back out on the field and playing. I think everything is going to be fine."

Buried treasure

The Pirates sold 24,519 tickets in the first four hours of individual-game sales yesterday. That was a 52 percent increase over the same time period last year. The four hours -- 10 a.m.-2 p.m. -- were marked with a fan event at PNC Park.

Shawn Chacon will make his spring debut today against Cincinnati at McKechnie Field. Paul Maholm will start a B-game against the Reds at 10 a.m. at Pirate City.



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