HOUSTON -- Nate McLouth, now of the Atlanta Braves, sounded about as braced as he can be to face his former teammates tonight at Turner Field.
But, as he acknowledged ...
"It's going to be a weird feeling sitting across the field from those guys," McLouth said yesterday from Atlanta. "Very weird."
He did display some levity on the matter, though: "Beasley better change his signs."
Tony Beasley is the Pirates' third base coach.
Some of the Pirates' players have known McLouth for nearly a decade, dating to time together in the minors, and one of those, Zach Duke, will be pitching to him tonight.
"It's going to be a little strange," Duke said. "And it's going to be a challenge, too: He hits lefties well, and we've seen that for years. Hopefully, we get the best of him"
McLouth bats.298 vs. lefties, .226 vs. righties. In three games for the Braves, including a bump up from No. 3 in the order to leadoff yesterday, he is 2 for 11 with two walks.
General manager Neal Huntington said yesterday he understood some veteran players' negative reaction to the McLouth trade, but he took clear exception to relievers Sean Burnett and Jesse Chavez lighting a candle Thursday in the PNC Park clubhouse, one adorned by a photo of McLouth and his No. 13.
"The veteran players, they were going to feel that way," Huntington said. "The younger players, they probably need to do something in the game before they pop off."
As for the reaction as a whole ...
"I understand their frustration, their anger. We took a good player out of their clubhouse. They don't care about tomorrow or next week, let alone next year or three years from now. They only care about who's going to help them win that night. While I wish it hadn't been vocalized as it was, I understand it."
Huntington has been in Bradenton, Fla., all week preparing for the draft. He heard second-hand about the candle-lighting and other players' reaction, which was reported in the Post-Gazette.
Shortstop Jack Wilson was held out yesterday because of muscle soreness in the back of his right shoulder, the result of falling hard during a forceout at second Saturday night.
He was able to throw yesterday morning, which he said was "surprising" based on how he felt when he awoke, and will be evaluated again today in Atlanta.
• Expect the Pirates to promote top pitching prospect Brad Lincoln soon from Class AA Altoona to Class AAA Indianapolis, possibly within the week.
• Huntington on newly acquired Class AAA pitcher Charlie Morton: "He's certainly better than what we had as a sixth starter, in case of injury. And he might be better than what we have in Pittsburgh when he comes up." Expect Morton in Pittsburgh by month's end.
• Reliever Donnie Veal was sent out to begin a rehabilitation stint with Class AAA Indianapolis.
• Two players for Class A Lynchburg, outfielder Miles Durham and catcher Kris Watts, were named to the Carolina League All-Star game. Conspicuously absent was third baseman Pedro Alvarez, batting .242 but with 10 home runs and 42 RBIs.