Pirates Notebook: Kuwata gets rude welcome

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NEW YORK -- Masumi Kuwata took a long time to pitch in a Major League Baseball game.

And it surely will be a lot longer before he forgets it, for good reasons and bad.

Kuwata, so joyous yesterday morning upon finally joining the Pirates after being promoted from Class AAA Indianapolis, so fired up after a 1-2-3 debut inning against the New York Yankees, experienced his true welcome-to-the-majors moment when Alex Rodriguez took him deep for a two-run home run in the sixth.

It was a first-pitch fastball that was intended to go inside but ended up over the plate, and Rodriguez drove it high above the right-field fence for a 10-6 New York lead.

"The first inning was OK," Kuwata said. "The second inning was not. A walk after two outs. Not good, you know?"

Kuwata described himself as "very nervous" when he entered in the fifth, but he zipped through it on 11 pitches. He got two quick outs in the sixth, too, before Bobby Abreu drew a seven-pitch walk to bring up Rodriguez.

"He did fine," manager Jim Tracy said of Kuwata. "We saw strikes. We saw know-how. And the guy who homered off him can do it anywhere."

Kuwata, at 39 years, 70 days, became the oldest player to make his major-league debut since Sept. 5, 1960, when Diomedes Olivo debuted with the Pirates at age 41.

Before the game, Kuwata was interviewed by about 40 members of the Japanese media.

"Playing in America became a dream of mine when I was 20 years old," he said. "I'm very happy to be able to pitch in the major leagues. I'm glad to finally realize my dream. I can't believe this, you know?"

Bullington has setback

Bryan Bullington was pulled after one inning of his start for Class AAA Indianapolis yesterday in Charlotte, N.C., because of what the Pirates described as discomfort in his right shoulder. The team called the move precautionary.

Bullington, in his first full year back from 2005 surgery on that shoulder, is an International League-best 9-2 with a 2.83 ERA.

Relief on the way?

General manager Dave Littlefield confirmed he is considering bringing up help from Indianapolis to keep the bullpen at full strength, given that Matt Capps' suspension should begin tomorrow and Salomon Torres is on the disabled list. To do that, a position player must be demoted.

"We'll consider a few different things," Littlefield said.

Littlefield cited Franquelis Osoria, Dan Kolb and Juan Perez as the relievers being considered. Osoria, owner of a 2.35 ERA, is the most likely choice.

It also is possible, given the miserable performance of the bullpen on this trip, that more than one reliever could be recalled and someone sent down.

Wilson, Paulino sit

The day after shortstop Jack Wilson and catcher Ronny Paulino contributed to a poor overall defensive showing by the Pirates, neither was in the lineup. Jose Castillo was at short, Ryan Doumit behind the plate.

Tracy was adamant that the moves were "not at all" influenced by the defense Saturday.

After the game, Tracy was effusive in his praise of Castillo, who went 2 for 3 with a walk and two gems in the field. The best of those came in the fifth, when he ranged deep in the hole on a Wil Nieves grounder for one of the Pirates' finest plays of the season.

"Tremendous game," Tracy said of Castillo. "Two highlight-reel plays, and another routine ground ball that he fielded ... you know, like you like to see a player field a routine ground ball."

Buried treasure

Tracy said his closer in Capps' absence would be by "a couple of people." Jonah Bayliss, who had 23 saves for Indianapolis last season, will be the primary. But, if a left-hander is needed, he would use Damaso Marte, who had 21 saves for the Chicago White Sox in 2002-03.

Littlefield said catcher Humberto Cota, whose period of being designated for assignment expires Thursday, will not be released. He will be traded or outrighted to the minors.

Kuwata did not have a chance to speak with New York left fielder Hideki Matsui, his decade-long teammate in Japan, but he faced him in the sixth inning. Matsui drew a five-pitch walk. "He was confused by my pitches," Kuwata said. "I think I was confused, too."

The Pirates are 0-6 against the Yankees in interleague play.

MINOR-LEAGUE REPORT
Sunday's results

INDIANAPOLIS (38-24) lost at Charlotte, 4-3. RHP Bryan Bullington (9-3, 2.83) allowed one run and two hits in one inning before being removed because of shoulder discomfort. He struck out one and walked two. RF Yurendell DeCaster (.348) went 2 for 3 with a double, a walk and a steal. SS Nick Green (.265) went 2 for 5 with two RBIs.

ALTOONA (29-31) lost at Harrisburg, 12-4. RHP Luis Munoz (6-3, 3.70) allowed four runs in 22/3 innings. 3B Neil Walker (.312) hit his 10th home run and went 2 for 4. CF Andrew McCutchen (.230) went 1 for 4 with a double.

LYNCHBURG (29-31) beat Salem, 3-2. RHP Todd Redmond (5-4, ) allowed two runs in 71/3 innings. 1B Jason Delaney (.357) went 2 for 3 with a walk.

HICKORY (25-35) beat Asheville, 7-1. RHP Jared Hughes (4-4, 3.50) pitched seven shutout innings and allowed six hits and two walks while striking out five. C Francis Poni (.307) went 1 for 3 with a double, a walk and two RBIs.

 


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