Pirates Notebook: Van Benschoten gets the call
Nate McLouth and Paul Maholm celebrate at home plate after McLouth's two-run home run in the fifth inning against the Phillies yesterday at PNC Park. The Pirates won, 5-1.
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John Van Benschoten's third time with the Pirates might be the charm.
However, it also might not be lengthy.
Van Benschoten, the Pirates' top draft pick in 2001 who struggled with them in 2004 and 2007, joined them again yesterday from Class AAA Indianapolis.
He'll take Matt Morris' roster spot but not the right-hander's slot in the starting rotation. That will go to left-hander Phil Dumatrait.
Van Benschoten was scheduled to start for Indianapolis in Toledo yesterday. Instead, he was in the Pirate bullpen providing insurance in case Paul Maholm had yet another early exit by a Pirate starter.
INDIANAPOLIS (14-11) lost at Toledo, 7-1. RHP Mike Thompson (0-1, 5.06) allowed six runs -- five earned -- and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings. He struck out two. RHP Brian Rogers (0.00), promoted from Class AA Altoona earlier in the day, pitched 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief and struck out five of 10 batters. 3B Neil Walker (.189) went 1 for 4 with a double. CF Andrew McCutchen (.275) and RF Steve Pearce (.242) each went 0 for 3 with a walk.
ALTOONA (10-13) lost at Erie, 5-4. RHP Jimmy Barthmaier (2-0, 5.04) allowed three runs -- two earned -- and four hits in five innings. He struck out five and walked five. LF Jonel Pacheco (.321) went 2 for 4 with a double and two RBIs.
LYNCHBURG (10-13) won at Kinston, 3-2. RHP Mike Crotta (3-2, 3.76) pitched five scoreless innings and allowed three hits. 2B Jim Negrych (.386) hit his first home run and went 1 for 4.
HICKORY (12-12) lost at Greenville, 10-4. RHP Emilis Guerrero (0-1, 4.97) allowed four runs and seven hits in 3 2/3 innings. CF Austin McClune (.235) went 1 for 4 with a walk and a steal.
That will be Van Benschoten's role tonight in New York, too.
After another few days?
"We'll make a further decision about John," general manager Neal Huntington said. "That will play itself out."
"Whatever they need, I'm here," Van Benschoten said. "Hopefully, I'll deliver."
It's conceivable that had left-hander Sean Burnett not pitched 1 1/3 innings for Indianapolis Saturday night, he would have been here yesterday instead of Van Benschoten.
Van Benschoten has a 4-0 record and 1.88 earned run average in four starts for Indianapolis. Last season for Indianapolis, he was 10-7 (2.56) in 19 starts.
He hasn't been able to achieve near that level of success in the big leagues, however. Could he this time?
"The stage is set for him to perform," Indianapolis manager Trent Jewett said. "The fact of the matter is, he's going to have to trust the skills he has, the work he's put in and the repetitions he's had. All are good enough for him to be able to pitch in the big leagues."
At age 28, it would seem now is the time for Van Benschoten to show that.
"At 28, he still has a lot of miles left in him," Jewett said. "You want them to be good miles."
Dumatrait's start in Washington Thursday night will be his first for the Pirates but not his first in the big leagues.
He made six starts -- working a total of only 18 innings -- for Cincinnati last season.
"I'm definitely more confident this year," Dumatrait said.
The Pirates planned for this eventuality by giving Dumatrait extra innings in spring training. He worked four innings in relief of Morris Saturday. In 20 2/3 innings this season, he has yielded 22 hits and 13 walks.
"Phil is our best candidate to step in there," Huntington said. "He's been stretched out but will have to be somewhat protected [by the bullpen] his first couple starts."
Primarily because of Morris' release, right-hander Brian Rogers yesterday was promoted from Class AA Altoona to Indianapolis. Altoona also put right-hander Derek Antelo on the disabled list.
Those moves resulted in right-handers Christian Castorri and Kyle Pearson being promoted to Altoona from high Class A Lynchburg.
Pearson, the Pirates' fourth-round pick in the 2003 draft, is making his first appearance at Altoona. In 10 innings for Lynchburg this season, he allowed no runs and struck out 11 in 10 innings and earned four saves in five chances.
Nate McLouth's second home run yesterday was the 500th hit by a Pirates player at PNC Park. John Vander Wal hit the first by a Pirate April 11, 2001 off Cincinnati's Elmer Dessens.
First Published April 28, 2008 12:00 am