Pirates Notebook: Getting antsy for Alvarez
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The Pirates are running low on patience with Pedro Alvarez.
Ten full days have passed since the team and its first-round draft pick agreed to terms on a $6 million signing bonus, but Alvarez has yet to report for his physical or introductory news conference. And there remained, as of late yesterday afternoon, no indication when he will.
The standard line in the days that followed the signing had been that Alvarez and his agent, Scott Boras, were having travel complications. But it became clear yesterday that this has much more to do with Boras' fairly regular practice of keeping his client away from the team an extra week or so, basically for no reason beyond drawing a line in the sand.
Whatever the case, the Pirates are getting antsy.
INDIANAPOLIS (65-72) lost at Durham, 9-8, in 10 innings. RHP Jimmy Barthmaier (3-1, 3.73) allowed five runs, four earned, and five hits in four innings. He struck out two, walked three. RHP John Van Benschoten (3.92) pitched two scoreless innings of relief and allowed one hit. 3B Neil Walker (.241) hit his 16th home run, a two-run shot, and went 2 for 4 with a walk and four RBIs. SS Brian Bixler (.285) hit his seventh home run and went 2 for 4 with his 20th steal.
ALTOONA (61-74) was off.
LYNCHBURG (54-79) lost to Frederick, 5-0. RHP Mike Crotta (9-10, 4.81) allowed five runs, three earned, and eight hits in six innings. He struck out seven, walked one. SS Brian Friday (.292) went 1 for 4 with a double and a steal.
HICKORY (50-83) and Asheville were rained out.
STATE COLLEGE (13-48) lost at Mahoning Valley, 8-7. RHP Wilson Ortiz (0-2, 5.40) allowed one run and two hits in three innings. DH Andrew Biela (.251) went 1 for 3 with two walks and two steals.
BRADENTON (36-18) beat the Red Sox, 7-6. LHP Carlos Teller (4-0, 4.37) pitched two scoreless innings and allowed one hit. He struck out three. DH Jarek Cunningham (.322) hit his fifth home run and went 3 for 4 with two RBIs and a steal.
"We'd like to see Pedro here," team president Frank Coonelly said yesterday.
Alvarez has not physically signed his contract, but his verbal consent minutes before the Aug. 15 deadline essentially made him a team employee, as $3 million of the bonus was payable immediately.
If he does not report soon, the Pirates might not send him to play winter ball because of the lack of time to prepare. That almost surely would delay what is supposed to be a fast-track route for Alvarez to Pittsburgh.
"The longer the delay, the less likely it is we will send him to either Arizona or Hawaii," general manager Neal Huntington said.
The Pirates acquired catcher Robinzon Diaz from the Toronto Blue Jays to complete the Aug. 21 Jose Bautista trade.
He has been assigned to Class AAA Indianapolis and added to a now-full 40-man roster. He also could be a September recall, as either he or Ronny Paulino will be added as a third catcher.
Diaz, 24, is a right-handed hitter who batted .285 with four home runs, 11 doubles and 26 RBIs in 57 minor league games, but just .244 while spending most of that time with Class AAA Syracuse. He made one appearance as a designated hitter for the Blue Jays April 23 and went 0 for 4. He was on the disabled list from May 3-July 16 because of a sprained right ankle.
In 640 minor league games, Diaz has batted .304 with 17 home runs, 135 doubles and 327 RBIs. He has been difficult to strike out, with 165 in 2,122 at-bats, but also has rarely walked, with 103. His career on-base percentage is .343.
Huntington said the Pirates like his ability to make contact, as well as his defense.
Bryan Morris, the Class A pitching prospect acquired in the Jason Bay trade, was shut down for the final week of Hickory's season because of pain in the biceps just below the right shoulder.
The pain was a recurrence from something Morris experienced earlier in the year, but it is not deemed serious, according to director of player development Kyle Stark. An examination performed over the weekend showed no damage to the labrum or cuff areas, the primary concerns in a pitching shoulder.
• Major League Baseball is looking into manager John Russell's argument with umpire Bob Davidson Sunday in Milwaukee, as is standard policy for all incidents that result in ejections, but no fine is expected. "I'm not worried about it," Russell said.
• Spring training will last a week longer than usual next year to compensate for the World Baseball Classic, cutting into the first week of April. The season will start April 6.
• Center fielder Nate McLouth was back in the lineup for the first time since Aug. 18, having sat out in the interim because of a viral infection.
• Just because McLouth is back, that does not mean Nyjer Morgan, who had gone 8 for 16 in McLouth's absence, will get buried, Russell said. "He'll be out there," Russell said.
• The Pirates held a moment of silence before the game in honor of John Challis, the Freedom baseball player who died last week of cancer.
First Published August 26, 2008 12:00 am