Pirates Notebook: Wilson feels 'one day' led to benching

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Quite obviously, Jack Wilson is being benched.

Just as obviously, he is not exactly beaming about it.

Although Wilson said nothing inflammatory after learning Pirates manager Jim Tracy would go with Jose Castillo at shortstop for a third consecutive game last night, he made clear his view that he does not deserve to be left out of the lineup.

"I might have made a couple mistakes," Wilson said. "But I thought they were pretty happy with the way I was playing, for the most part."

The mistakes to which he referred -- three or four, depending on one's perspective -- came in the ugly 9-3 loss Saturday at Yankee Stadium.

"You make mistakes. Everybody does," Wilson continued. "Those came in a big game against the Yankees, it was on a big stage, and it cost us a couple of runs. I take full responsibility for that. But one day doesn't take away the season I had prior to that."

Wilson's .981 fielding percentage ranks sixth among National League shortstops, and his five errors are tied for fourth-fewest.

"All I'm going to do is cheer on the guys, encourage them when they come in the dugout and hope we win. I'm going to keep a smile on my face and enjoy my job. That's just the way I am. I don't get too negative."

Tracy focused on the positive, too, continuing to stress that Castillo's fine showing in the interim is influencing his decision more than anything related to Wilson.

"We'll ride it out a little bit and give him the opportunity to play some," Tracy said of Castillo. "That's all. We're not shelving anybody. We're just taking advantage of a guy who's played a couple good games, so we'll give him another chance."

Tracy's protests notwithstanding, Castillo can field four positions on the diamond other than Wilson's, so it is now glaringly apparent that Wilson is being benched.

Moreover, Tracy and Wilson met briefly Tuesday, and Tracy told Wilson he was dissatisfied with his defense of late.

"He told me Castillo's doing well at short and that he's going to keep playing," Wilson said.

Wilson added he hopes to get more answers about his benching from management today.

Wilson, the team's highest-paid player with a salary of $5.4 million, is guaranteed an additional $14.25 million over the next two seasons. And, based on thick precedent, the Pirates are enormously unlikely to keep that salary on the payroll if there is any doubt he will be their everyday shortstop.

There has been no known discussion about the team aiming to trade Wilson, but that could change.

In addition to management taking a look at Castillo -- who is making $1.9 million this season and has two more years before arbitration -- the Pirates also have a promising shortstop prospect in Brian Bixler. Bixler, 24, has followed a strong spring by batting .307 for Indianapolis in his first Class AAA season. He has four home runs, 29 RBIs, 12 steals and a .402 on-base percentage.

Buried treasure

Indianapolis starter Sean Burnett, on the minor-league disabled list because of left elbow irritation, threw a bullpen session yesterday and will have another tomorrow. If that goes well, he could return to Indianapolis' rotation by next week.

Texas changed its starter for the series finale tonight: Brandon McCarthy has a blister on his finger and will be replaced by another right-hander, Kameron Loe.

The Pirates signed six more draft picks: outfielder Quincy Latimore (fourth round), right-hander Sean Giblin (10th), outfielder Andrew Biela (13th), shortstop Robert Spain (19th) and outfielders Keanon Simon (25th) and Caleb Fields (33rd). The total signed is 19.

MINOR-LEAGUE REPORT

Wednesday's results

INDIANAPOLIS (39-25) was off.

ALTOONA (31-30) beat New Britain, 12-7. LHP Josh Shortslef (1-6, 4.30) allowed five runs in 4 1/3 innings. 1B Steve Pearce (.312) hit a grand slam for his 18th home run -- seventh with the Curve -- and went 1 for 4 with five RBIs. 3B Neil Walker (.311) went 1 for 5 with a double. CF Andrew McCutchen (.239) went 1 for 3 with two walks, two RBIs and a steal.

LYNCHBURG (29-34) was swept in a doubleheader at Kinston, 7-4 and 1-0. In the first game, RHP Clayton Hamilton (2-4, 5.60) allowed seven runs in 4 1/3 innings. In the nightcap, RHP Jean Garavito (2-2, 2.77) allowed one run in six innings. For the day, DH Jamie Romak (.222) hit his eighth home run and went 2 for 6 with a double.

HICKORY (26-37) beat West Virginia, 5-2. RHP Jeff Sues (1-2, 9.69) allowed one unearned run in five innings. 3B Eddie Prasch (.217) hit his fourth home run and went 2 for 3 with two RBIs.

 


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