Pirates Notebook: Paulino could go to minors
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The Pirates are contemplating keeping catcher Raul Chavez on the roster once Ryan Doumit is ready to return this weekend, and part of those ongoing discussions is the possibility of optioning Ronny Paulino to the minors.
INDIANAPOLIS (28-32) lost to Lehigh Valley, 6-1. RHP Luis Munoz (3-2, 5.34) allowed five runs and nine hits in five innings. 3B Neil Walker (.226) went 2 for 4 with a double. 1B Steve Pearce (.262) went 1 for 3 with a double and a walk. CF Andrew McCutchen (.282) went 0 for 4.
ALTOONA (23-32) beat New Britain, 4-3. LHP Corey Hamman (2-5, 3.92) allowed three runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings. RHP Evan Meek (3.27) pitched two scoreless innings of relief to record his first save. He struck out four, walked one. RF Brad Corley (.300) went 1 for 4 with a double and two RBIs.
LYNCHBURG (21-36) and Potomac were suspended by rain.
HICKORY (28-31) beat Asheville, 4-1. RHP Brad Lincoln (3-1, 2.01) allowed one run and five hits in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out six, walked none. In four starts since returning from elbow surgery, he has 15 strikeouts and one walk in 22 1/3 innings. RF Erik Huber (.273) hit his sixth home run, a three-run shot, and went 1 for 4.
Such a move, if it comes to pass, would represent a precipitous fall for Paulino, the team's starting catcher in 2006-07 until Doumit took most of the playing time this year. In 2006, his .336 average ranked second among all National League rookies.
At the same time, it would not come as much of a surprise.
For one, Paulino, 27, is batting .218 with two home runs in 35 games, and his defense has remained as inconsistent as last season.
For another, manager John Russell clearly has taken a liking to how Chavez, 35, has worked with the Pirates' immensely struggling starting rotation. Although he has batted .218 with a history that shows little more should be expected, he started behind the plate last night for the fifth time in six games.
"I really like the way he's catching," Russell said yesterday. "I especially like how he's handling the rotation. We're seeing some clean innings. Now, is that totally the catcher? No, the pitchers are most important."
Chavez last night caught both Houston runners attempting to steal and is 3 for 5 in that area since his promotion. Paulino is 7 for 24, a 29 percent rate. The top five catchers in the league are at 31 percent or higher.
"It's great to have him back there, with all the things he can do," starter Phil Dumatrait said after the game.
Paulino has not played regularly in the minors since 2005.
Doumit to play three
Doumit's minor league rehabilitation, which began last night with Class AA Altoona, will last all three games of the Curve's series with New Britain. He will be evaluated after that and, if all is well, rejoin the Pirates Friday.
He singled in his only at-bat as a designated hitter last night, entering in the seventh inning. But he did not catch, largely because he did extensive side work in the series finale Monday in St. Louis. He is expected to catch tonight.
• Class AAA Indianapolis has used Steve Pearce at first base the past two games, including last night, as part of the Pirates' continuing plan to keep him flexible between that position and right field, depending on needs at the major league level. That might make it appear as if first baseman Adam LaRoche could be traded, but there has been nothing palpable to that effect yet.
• Shortstop Jack Wilson described his nagging left calf as "getting better," adding that the only remaining issue is building up the endurance to go deep into games without it tightening.
• Nate McLouth continued to rank 11th among National League outfielders in All-Star balloting. No other Pirates made the leader lists.
• The 2,500 tickets for the game tonight that were reduced to being free -- a promotion called for a $1 discount for each run scored in the four-game series in St. Louis -- were scooped up within 10 minutes of the online sale yesterday morning.
• Mike "Doc" Emrick, NBC's hockey play-by-play man recently selected for that sport's Hall of Fame, threw out the ceremonial first pitch hours after calling Petr Sykora's triple-overtime goal in Detroit.
First Published June 4, 2008 12:00 am