Pirates Notebook: Still no offers for veterans
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CHICAGO -- The Pirates have not approached any of their three players likely to be eligible for free agency after this season -- shortstop Jack Wilson, first baseman Adam LaRoche and reliever John Grabow -- about contract extensions, and that makes all three possibilities to be traded by Major League Baseball's July 31 deadline.
Wilson, 31, is making a team-high $7.4 million. He has an $8.4 million club option for 2010 and has offered to renegotiate it at a lower rate in exchange for a long-term deal, but there has been no formal response.
LaRoche, 29, is making $7.05 million, and Grabow, 30, is making $2.3 million.
General manager Neal Huntington yesterday said trade talks have been limited to this point, but he acknowledged that these three players are candidates.
"We've been very open with players who we have under control for just one year about what might happen if there aren't extensions," Huntington said. "It's still early in the process. We have conversations with teams, as we always do, but there's nothing imminent."
Catcher Ryan Doumit, recovering from surgery on his thumb, will have his next CT scan Thursday in Pittsburgh. If it shows that the tiny fracture in the thumb has healed sufficiently, he can begin baseball-type rehabilitation immediately and would remain on pace to return by the middle of next month.
"That's what I'm hoping," Doumit said. "And I feel good about it right now. I really do."
If there ever was a good time for the Pirates to face the Chicago Cubs, this might be it: The Cubs have lost seven in a row, had to spend most of last night flying back from San Diego and are without injured All-Star third baseman Aramis Ramirez.
That said, the Pirates hardly can be considered a favorite in the three-game set that begins tonight at Wrigley Field, given their 4-14 record against the Cubs in 2008.
"They're going to be tough. They're always tough," outfielder Craig Monroe said. "But we'll come to play, too."
• Reliever Tyler Yates, on the disabled list because of a sore elbow, had a second throwing session, up from 60 to 90 feet, that went better than his first. That will ramp up to 120 today, then bullpen sessions the next two days and a simulated game Friday. But Huntington cautioned that Yates is not certain to return when eligible Sunday.
• The Pirates plan to keep Tom Gorzelanny so long as Yates is not out for too long, Huntington said. If Yates is out more than a week, Gorzelanny likely will be sent back to Class AAA Indianapolis in favor of a reliever -- Steven Jackson and Chris Bootcheck are top candidates -- so that he retains his arm strength to start. Starter Virgil Vasquez was named as a possibility, too.
• Center fielder Nate McLouth and LaRoche, each slumping to varying degrees, each was given a rare day off yesterday.
• The bullpen pitched a total of four innings in the three games against the Chicago White Sox, 3 2/3 innings coming yesterday. "They're well rested," manager John Russell said, smiling.