Pirates Notebook: McLeary coming to replace Wasdin

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Peter Diana, Post-Gazette
Right fielder Ryan Doumit just misses making a running catch on a foul ball hit by the Cubs' Aramis Ramirez yesterday at PNC Park.
By Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Marty McLeary will be promoted today to take John Wasdin's place in the Pirates' bullpen.

McLeary, 32, was 2-1 with a 2.57 ERA in four starts with Class AAA Indianapolis and, although other pitchers were faring better in the bullpen there, he had been groomed for long relief all through spring training. He was a pleasant surprise last season as a September recall, going 2-0 with a 2.04 ERA in five appearances, including two starts.

He is expected to be available tonight for the first game of the four-game set with the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.

Wasdin, 34, will be placed on the 15-day disabled list because of a sprained right thumb.

It was not known if that ailment was responsible for his poor pitching most of the season, including yesterday. In the portion of the suspended game that was completed yesterday at PNC Park, an 8-6 Chicago victory, Wasdin allowed the Cubs to add two runs to the 6-5 lead they held when the game was halted Tuesday night. He was charged with two runs on four hits and a walk in the final two innings, and that proved costly when the Pirates rallied for one run in the ninth.

Manager Jim Tracy was asked why he chose Wasdin in a tight game.

"We're trailing, and it's May the 2nd," Tracy replied. "If you start using your back-end bullpen guys when you're trailing, you're going to get yourself in trouble down the road."

Nady set for tonight

Milwaukee will mark the spot for Xavier Nady's return.

Nady, the Pirates' regular right fielder, revealed after the game yesterday that the team's plan is to try to start him tonight. He could have additional testing on the left hamstring that was strained April 20, but all signs seemed clear after seamless workouts the past two days

His return will be welcomed by the Pirates, given his defense and that he had eight RBIs in as many games before getting hurt. Overall, he is batting .262 with three home runs and 12 RBIs.

But that will raise the question of what to do with Ryan Doumit, the team's hottest bat by a wide margin. Doumit has been playing right field in Nady's stead the past three games, and Ronny Paulino is the unquestioned starting catcher, Doumit's other position.

First base?

Unlikely.

Even if the Pirates bench struggling Adam LaRoche, Doumit has had almost no work at the position since last summer.

Brewers foam to top

It had been shaping up that the Pirates and Brewers -- of all teams -- might duel for first place this weekend. Alas, Milwaukee is 5 1/2 games ahead.

At the same time, the relevance of the series is diminished little for the Pirates, considering how uplifting a sweep or even three victories would be.

"It'll be fun," shortstop Jack Wilson said. "It will be good to see what we can step up and do."

The Brewers have won four games in a row and nine of their past 11 to move into highly unfamiliar territory way atop the division. But those who have been paying attention to them -- and their rich minor-league system -- over the past few years are not surprised.

"That's what I think makes this kind of neat," Doumit said. "These are two teams that, for the most part, have had to rely on young players coming up through their system. You look at Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart, J.J. Hardy, all those guys are up there doing what's been expected of them."

Buried treasure

Reliever Damaso Marte received brief attention from the medical staff after a cramp in the middle finger of his left hand caused him to pause in the ninth inning of the second game. But Marte said it was "nothing."

Shawn Chacon's three scoreless innings give him 23, most in Major League Baseball among relievers. He has a 3.13 ERA.

Second baseman Jose Castillo has taken one at-bat in the past six games, one fewer than utilityman Don Kelly.

Milwaukee's rotation for the series: Dave Bush, Claudio Vargas, Jeff Suppan and Ben Sheets.

MINOR-LEAGUE REPORT
Wednesday's results

INDIANAPOLIS (15-9) won at Pawtucket, 5-1. RHP John Van Benschoten (1-2, 2.45) pitched five shutout innings and allowed four hits. He struck out four, walked three and threw 52 of 91 pitches for strikes. RHP Josh Sharpless (1.54) pitched two scoreless innings and struck out two. RHP Dan Kolb (0.00) pitched a perfect ninth. SS Brian Bixler (.338) went 2 for 4 with two RBIs. 1B Yurendell DeCaster (.333) hit his third home run and went 1 for 4 with a walk.

ALTOONA (11-11) won at Connecticut, 5-4. RHP Luis Munoz (3-0, 2.60) allowed two runs in six innings. 1B Steve Pearce (.400), in his first Class AA start, hit his first home run -- his 12th of the season -- and went 2 for 4 with a double. 3B Neil Walker (.288) hit his third home run and went 1 for 3 with a walk. CF Andrew McCutchen (.169) went 0 for 4.

LYNCHBURG (10-12) beat Kinston, 2-0. RHP Todd Redmond (2-2, 3.46) pitched seven shutout innings and allowed one hit. LF Jason Delaney (.316) went 2 for 4 with a double.

HICKORY (10-14) lost at Lake County, 4-3. RHP Jared Hughes (2-1, 4.01) allowed two runs in four innings. 2B Mike Ambrose (.235) went 2 for 3 with an RBI and a steal.

 Peter Diana, Post-Gazette
Starter Ian Snell reacts after giving up the second of two runs scored in the fifth inning against the Cubs.
Click photo for larger image.


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