Pirates Notebook: Players follow manager's lead in keeping cool
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HOUSTON -- Despite the Pirates' dismal start, the next food that gets thrown by the manager at the postgame spread will be the first. Jim Tracy has stayed relentlessly cool through 20 games and seems determined to keep that up.
INDIANAPOLIS (9-9) won at Louisville, 10-0. RHP Brandon Duckworth (2-2, 1.77) pitched seven scoreless innings and allowed six hits. 3B Jose Bautista (.234) hit his first home run and doubled in five at-bats. SS Gookie Dawkins (.279) went 4 for 5.
ALTOONA (13-4) beat Akron, 4-1. RHP Landon Jacobsen (4-0, 1.27) allowed one run in 5 1/3 innings. CF Vic Buttler (.293) went 2 for 3 with his first home run and two RBIs. 1B Simon Pond (.295) hit his fifth home run.
LYNCHBURG (8-8) lost to Salem, 7-5. RHP Derek Drage (0-1, 6.30) allowed three runs in 4 1/3 innings. SS Brian Bixler (.317) went 2 for 4 with a walk and an RBI.
HICKORY (6-10) Lost at Greensboro, 9-6. RHP Luis Valdez (1-1, 3.24) allowed four runs, three earned, in five innings. 1B Steve Pearce (.254) hit his third and fourth home runs.
The same, apparently, is true of the players.
Several veterans interviewed yesterday, as the team fell to 5-15 with a 7-2 loss to the Houston Astros, said there has been no clubhouse conflagration to date. No shouting. No finger-pointing. No major speeches.
Nor, they added, has there been any need for such.
"What are you going to yell and scream about?" first baseman Craig Wilson said. "Maybe you can say, 'Hey, you guys are playing hard!' I mean, obviously, our record isn't what we'd like it to be. At the same time, we're still going out there and staying in every game. It's not like we're getting blown out of the water."
"The shouting is going to be up to the coaches, if it happens," reliever Roberto Hernandez said. "But, when you lose, 3-0, 3-2, and you're facing a lot of good pitching, what are you going to say? We haven't won much, and I understand that gets magnified. But the effort is there consistently. Besides, this game's played on the field."
Shortstop Jack Wilson, asked if he sensed the need for a shakeup, replied: "We're not playing horrible. We hit the ball, and the pitcher doesn't have a good outing. When the pitchers are great, we don't hit the ball. That's how you become a losing team, when you can't put it together. That's what we need to do."
General manager Dave Littlefield yesterday expressed dissatisfaction with the team's start.
"I'd say this: There's no doubt we're all disappointed and frustrated. We feel we had a more talented team this year," he said. "But we've had a few close losses, too. Obviously, the record is not acceptable. But I also strongly believe it's going to improve."
Eldred is injured
First baseman Brad Eldred, the Pirates' top power-hitting prospect, hurt his left thumb when he pursued a wild throw and collided with a runner in Class AAA Indianapolis' 10-0 victory yesterday at Louisville. He left the game immediately.
The precise nature of the injury was not known, Indianapolis spokesman Matt Segal said, because of excessive swelling. More should be clear, Segal added, after tests are taken today.
Eldred, 25, is batting .226 with three home runs and 10 RBIs.
Catcher Ryan Doumit predicted he will be able to rejoin the lineup immediately upon coming off the 15-day disabled list Friday. His strained left hamstring has improved, according to recent tests, and he is doing all baseball-type exercises, including running.
"No question, I'll be ready," he said. "It's almost all the way back."
Littlefield said the team still is weighing whether Doumit might need a Class AAA rehabilitation stint.
Houston's Craig Biggio had a remarkable series in which he went 10 for 13 with two home runs and five runs scored.
Third baseman Joe Randa had the day off because of lingering pain in his right foot that was struck by a foul ball Tuesday. Tracy said Randa will be back in the lineup tonight.
Starter Ian Snell, whose right calf stiffened Saturday night, is not expected to miss a turn.
Between Nate McLouth and Chris Duffy, the Pirates' leadoff men are batting a combined .206 with two walks.
The Astros have won seven of their past eight games, including this three-game sweep, to ascend to the top of the National League at 13-5.
The worst start by any team called the Pittsburgh Pirates? The short-lived NHL Pirates went 5-36-3 in 1929-30, after which the franchise moved to Philadelphia.
First Published April 24, 2006 12:00 am