Pirates Notebook: Snell denies he prefers minors
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Ian Snell has a 0.34 ERA in four starts with Class AAA Indianapolis, but he has no clear course back to the Pirates, general manager Neal Huntington said yesterday, because of what Huntington described as Snell's desire not to return.
"Ian has spoken publicly that he doesn't want to be here, and it's tough to bring back a player who doesn't want to be back," Huntington said. "There's no doubt he's gone down there and thrown well. Time will tell."
Reached in Pawtucket, R.I., where he was with Indianapolis, Snell responded that he never said he had no desire to return to the Pirates, publicly or otherwise.
"Why would I say that?" Snell said. "What I've told a couple reporters here is that I've enjoyed my time here with Indianapolis. It's a great group of guys. And I think there's some great chemistry right now in Pittsburgh, so maybe they're better off without me. But I never said I wanted to stay in Indianapolis or that I didn't want to pitch for the Pirates or in the majors."
The Pirates are pursuing a trade for Snell, but Huntington said his contract -- $3.5 million this year, $4.25 million next year -- has been a deterrent.
"Teams are poking around, but they're mostly offering one bad contract for what they see as our bad contract," Huntington said.
The Pirates could make more dubious history when Milwaukee comes to town.
They have lost 17 in a row to the Brewers, and a loss tonight would tie the longest streak without a victory in Pittsburgh sporting lore between one team and another, according to Post-Gazette research. The longest was the Penguins' 0-15-3 run against the Montreal Canadiens from 1972-75. The Steelers' longest was 0-12-1 against the Washington Redskins from 1938-46.
Outfielder Lastings Milledge has batted .448 in eight games for Indianapolis, but there remains no firm timetable for his ascent to Pittsburgh.
Huntington suggested it could be soon.
"He's an interesting case," Huntington said. "He's made some adjustments, and we thought it would take him time to implement those. And he's taken to those quickly."
Those adjustments mostly were at the plate, but some were in the field. A majority of the instruction came early this week.
"We don't want to overreact and rush him," Huntington said. " ... if he continues, sure, he opens the door a lot quicker than maybe we anticipated."
• The Pirates' tentative plan for injured reliever Tyler Yates is to offer him a minor league contract for 2010 while he recovers from his second Tommy John surgery.
• Reliever Donnie Veal saw rare tight-score duty yesterday in the 4-3 loss to the San Francisco Giants, retiring his lone batter in the ninth while the Pirates trailed by a run. "We're going to try to continue building confidence in him, keep him involved," manager John Russell said.