Pirates Notebook: Milledge out of lineup again

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Remember the fuss when the Pirates had Lastings Milledge platooning in right field with struggling Ryan Church?

He is playing even less now.

For the fifth time in six games Saturday, Milledge, the team's 25-year-old possible corner outfielder into the future, was on the bench. Ryan Doumit was in right for the fourth time in that span. Garrett Jones was in right for the other occasion.

Manager John Russell was asked if Milledge is healthy.

"Yes," he replied.

So, this is because Doumit is swinging well?

"Yeah, Ryan's swinging the bat pretty well."

Doumit had homered twice in the previous three games, and he also hit a monster ball just foul Friday night, clanging off the Pirates Charities sign high above right field. But those home runs also were Doumit's only two hits in 22 at-bats before Saturday.

Milledge is batting .303 over his past 47 starts, and he has fared well in more recent play, too, hitting safely in 12 of the past 13 games and having a .295 average in that span. The glaring negative: Despite finally showing some power right around the All-Star break, he has one extra-base hit in his past 22 games.

One possibility: The Pirates could be looking to raise Doumit's trade value. He is due to make $5.1 million in 2011.

Six-man rotation?

The Pirates are discussing -- though far from decided on -- going to a six-man rotation after the September call-ups.

If that were to happen, it almost surely would be aimed at moving Brad Lincoln back into the mix. The only other realistic candidate would be Charlie Morton, and general manager Neal Huntington strongly suggested last week that a Morton recall likely would involve relief duty.

"We'll sit down and look at the schedule, travel, days off, things like that, in the next week or so," Russell said.

The top recall candidates, other than Lincoln and Morton, are pitchers Joe Martinez, Brian Burres and Justin Thomas; outfielders John Bowker and Brandon Moss; shortstop Pedro Ciriaco; and catcher Jason Jaramillo.

Buried treasure

• Lincoln was placed on the seven-day minor-league disabled list with Class AAA Indianapolis because of a sore, stiff neck. Kyle Stark, director of player development, said the Pirates were "not concerned" that the matter is serious and said Lincoln should return to the rotation next week.

• Jaramillo and reliever Sean Gallagher are two candidates to play winter ball, Russell said.

• Before his three scoreless innings Friday, Gallagher had made four consecutive scoreless appearances of one out each. "Fine by me either way," Gallagher said.


Dejan Kovacevic: dkovacevic@post-gazette.com . Find more at PBC Blog .


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