Pirates Notebook: Players' focus not on possible protest
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MIAMI -- No one in the Pirates' front office is commenting on the protest planned for Saturday night at PNC Park, where, organizers are hoping, fans will walk out after the third inning to show displeasure with the team's ownership and management.
INDIANAPOLIS (44-34) lost at Columbus, 7-4. LHP Michael Tejera (3-1, 4.53) allowed four runs and six hits in six innings. 3B Jose Hernandez (.241) went 2 for 4 with a double, a walk and an RBI.
ALTOONA (37-37) and Trenton were postponed by rain.
LYNCHBURG (34-40) won at Wilmington, 14-5. RHP Derek Hankins (7-2, 4.66) allowed five runs in five innings. LF James Boone (.290) hit his fifth and sixth home runs and went 4 for 5 with two doubles and five RBIs. RF Jamie Romak (.272) hit his ninth and 10th home runs and went 2 for 5 with three RBIs.
HICKORY (30-43) had its game at Kannapolis suspended by rain.
STATE COLLEGE (4-5) won at Batavia, 10-6. RHP Matt Foust (0-1, 6.75) allowed two runs, one earned, in 31/3 innings. DH Marcus Davis (.333) hit his second home run and went 2 for 5 with a double and two RBIs.
BRADENTON (3-4) was off.
But two of the team's most-tenured players said yesterday that, no matter what happens that night, it will be business as usual on the field.
"I don't feel anything about it," shortstop Jack Wilson said. "I've got a job to do, and that's to play baseball. Fans have every right to react how they want. I mean, if they get up and leave ... whatever inning that is, we still have to play the game."
He was asked how the players might perceive such a reaction, even if it, as organizers have stated, is not aimed at the players.
"Whether it's aimed at us or management or whatever, it doesn't deter from the fact that we have to go out and play the game," Wilson said. "Our focus is going to be on winning that game, not on how many people are in the stands or what they're doing. Our No. 1 concern will be winning that game."
Only a few players seemed aware of the planned protest, no doubt because yesterday was their 10th consecutive day on the road. And those who were aware seemed to know little about the specifics.
"People can do whatever they want when they buy a ticket," left fielder Jason Bay said. "I don't really have much else to say about it. I don't really know what the purpose is or what anyone would be trying to change."
Told that it purportedly is not aimed at the players, Bay added, "That would be my guess. I guess we'll just have to see how big a deal it is. Whatever it is, you don't want to be in this situation where something like that becomes the focus and takes away what happens on the field."
LaRoche still waiting
Adam LaRoche was back in the cleanup spot last night against the Florida Marlins after two days' rest that manager Jim Tracy hoped would shake him out of his 1-for-19 funk.
The latest problem, Tracy said, is not like earlier in the season, when LaRoche was having trouble reading pitches.
"He's seeing it and recognizing it. That's why you see him drawing the walks that he is," Tracy said. "But he's missing the pitch. And I don't mean he's swinging and missing. He's getting a ball to hammer, and he's fouling it straight back. It's frustrating for him."
No doubt. But still ...
"It's not anything like where I was two months ago," LaRoche said. "At the same time, I feel like I'm having some good at-bats."
His 35 walks rank ninth among Major League Baseball's 22 first basemen with enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title. But his .211 average ranks last, his eight home runs rank 15th, his 40 RBIs rank 13th and his 74 strikeouts rank second.
Tracy said Masumi Kuwata almost surely will continue to be used in relief rather than get a shot at starting as he did for 21 years in Japan. The main reason, he said, is that hitters surely would have "an easier time adjusting" to his slower velocity after a second or third trip to the plate.
Three Indianapolis players -- starter Bryan Bullington, shortstop Brian Bixler and utilityman Yurendell DeCaster -- were named yesterday to the Class AAA All-Star Game July 11 in Albuquerque, N.M.
Craig Wilson, the outfielder/first baseman who spent most of the previous six seasons with the Pirates, had arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder in Pittsburgh and will miss two months in the Chicago White Sox's system. The injury affected him for months, including the 24 games in which he batted .172 for Atlanta early this season before being released.
First Published June 27, 2007 11:32 pm