Pirates Notebook: Armas' days numbered?
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INDIANAPOLIS (44-34) had its game at Columbus suspended by rain. LHP Sean Burnett (4-4, 4.02) had pitched 2 1/3 innings when it was halted as a scoreless tie. He allowed a hit and a walk while striking out one.
ALTOONA (39-37) swept a doubleheader with Trenton, 2-0 and 11-2. In the first game, RHP Luis Munoz (8-4, 3.36) pitched seven shutout innings and allowed five hits. In the nightcap, RHP Dewon Brazelton (0-1, 2.77) allowed one run in five innings. For the day, 1B Steve Pearce (.319) hit his 21st home run -- 10th with the Curve -- and went 4 for 5 with a double, two walks, a sacrifice fly and five RBIs. 3B Neil Walker (.312) hit his 12th home run, a grand slam in the nightcap, and went 1 for 4 with two walks, a sacrifice fly and five RBIs. CF Andrew McCutchen (.235) went 2 for 6 with a walk. DH Jason Delaney (.400) went 2 for 5 with a double and two walks in his Class AA debut.
LYNCHBURG (34-41) lost at Wilmington, 5-3. RHP Serguey Linares (1-4, 5.46) allowed four runs in 5 2/3 innings. RF Brad Corley (.261) went 2 for 4 with a double and two RBIs, giving him 50 for the season.
HICKORY (30-44) lost to Kannapolis, 11-5. RHP Steve MacFarland (1-2, 5.40) allowed one unearned run in 3 2/3 innings. 3B Jared Keel (.261) hit his seventh home run and went 1 for 2 with two walks.
STATE COLLEGE (6-5) won at Jamestown, 10-5. RHP Dionis Rodriguez (1-0, 2.38) allowed two runs in 4 1/3 innings. LF Marcus Davis (.375) hit his third home run and went 2 for 3 with two walks.
BRADENTON (4-4) beat the Reds, 12-2. RHP Kyle McPherson (1-0, 7.50) allowed one run in five innings. RF Yonelvy Canal (.350) hit his first home run and went 3 for 4 with a double and five RBIs.
MIAMI -- The end could be nigh for Tony Armas.
He might be the least of the Pirates' problems, having been relegated to mopup duty a month ago, but he also has been the least effective of their pitchers with a 8.92 ERA and nine home runs allowed in just 37 innings.
That includes a two-run home run by Florida's Matt Treanor in his two innings yesterday.
Armas was general manager Dave Littlefield's only major-league free-agent signing of the past offseason, getting a one-year contract with a salary of $3 million plus a $500,000 buyout if his $5 million option for 2008 is not exercised, which it most assuredly will not be. That adds up to $3.5 million guaranteed.
Will he be released?
There are signs that it could happen: For one, manager Jim Tracy has made clear he will not use Armas in any situations other than those similar to yesterday, where the Pirates are well behind in the score. For another, a team with the highest bullpen ERA in the National League can ill afford to carry a reclamation project all season, especially when it has seemingly superior pitching available with Class AAA Indianapolis.
This was underscored yesterday, as Treanor's home run -- he had not hit one since July -- would wind up making the difference in the Pirates' 9-7 loss.
Asked afterward if Armas is making any progress, Tracy replied: "He had his first batter at two strikes, then walked him. And Treanor hit a home run. The sixth inning he pitched was a clean one."
If Armas were cut, it would be quite humbling for management a year after the Pirates' top two free agents of 2006 -- Jeromy Burnitz and Joe Randa -- delivered little for a combined $10.7 million.
Duffy injured anew?
Center fielder Chris Duffy appeared to re-injure his right hamstring after misjudging a fly ball in the eighth inning yesterday. He buckled over after the play, then moved gingerly as a single dropped well in front of him with the next batter.
There was no immediate word on his condition.
Torres to the mound
Reliever Salomon Torres, rehabilitating his right elbow in Bradenton, Fla., is scheduled to make his first bullpen session today after two rounds of long-tossing earlier in the week.
There remains no firm timetable but, if all goes well, he could return after the All-Star break.
Shortstop Jack Wilson was rested, partly because of Tracy's continuing push to keep Jose Castillo involved in the infield. On this trip, Castillo also played second and third.
Florida starter Scott Olsen struck out the first five hitters of the game, setting a Marlins record. "It looked like they wanted to take, so I went right at them," Olsen said.
Zach Duke's only bright spot on the day: He singled in his only at-bat to raise his average to .233. That made for an unusual scene in the fifth when Nate McLouth, owner of a lesser average at .218, pinch-hit for Duke and struck out.
Someone with a sense of humor in the Florida press box announced Treanor's home run off Armas -- a laser over the 330-foot sign in left field -- as having traveled 334 feet.
The Pirates released Alay Soler, a pitcher they signed in spring training after the New York Mets released him. Soler, 26, had a 6.00 ERA in 14 appearances with Class AA Altoona.
First Published June 28, 2007 11:49 pm