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Pirates trade Nady and Marte to Yanks
Deal nets four prospects including Ohlendorf, Tabata
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- It's official. The Pirates and Yankees announced on Saturday a deal that sent right fielder Xavier Nady and left-hander reliever Damaso Marte to New York in exchange for four Minor League prospects. As of Friday, the Pirates were expected to receive four prospects -- right-hander Ross Ohlendorf, outfielder Jose Tabata, right-hander George Kontos and lefty Phil Coke -- in return for Marte and Nady. However, that changed overnight, as the Pirates dropped Kontos and Coke from the deal and instead picked up righthanders Jeff Karstens and Daniel McCutchen, both of whom have been playing for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. According to a baseball source, the Pirates and Yankees had agreed upon a list of prospects for the Pirates to choose from, which explains the change in the original deal. "While the core components of the deal were in place early Friday evening, negotiations on the final package of players coming to Pittsburgh extended into the early morning hours of Saturday and were not finalized until late Saturday morning," general manager Neal Huntington said in a release. Huntington had confirmed a deal was in place on Friday, though both he and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman would not confirm that their two clubs were involved. The deal wasn't officially announced until all six players underwent medical evaluations. "The Pirates are excited to add four quality players to our system," Huntington said. "With Karstens, McCutchen and Olendorf, we were able to add three quality starting pitchers to our system. With Tabata, we added a talented young outfield prospect who has all of the tools to become a member of what we believe will be an athletic and productive outfield." Indications that a deal had been struck first surfaced when Nady was pulled from Friday's game after one inning. Nady was in the on-deck circle in the bottom of the first when he was called back into the dugout and told about the trade. Minutes later, television cameras caught Marte hugging teammates in the dugout shortly after learning the news. Despite the fact that Nady is having the best season of his career, he was seen as the expendable piece in Pittsburgh's outfield. He will become a free agent after one more season, and with Scott Boras as his agent, the likelihood of the Pirates being able to afford to sign him beyond that seemed slim. The Pirates, too, have outfield prospects Andrew McCutchen and Steve Pearce knocking on the door at Triple-A. Nady entered the night on a 13-game hitting streak and was leading the team with a .330 average. His 57 RBIs were second most on the club. Nady was in his second full season with the club after coming to Pittsburgh as a part of a Trade Deadline deal in '06 that sent pitchers Oliver Perez and Roberto Hernandez to the Mets. Marte's situation was similar, in that his price tag was not going to make him a long-term fit in Pittsburgh. The lefthanded reliever had a $6 million club option for next season that the Pirates were not going to pick up. The only way Marte was not going to be dealt somewhere in the next week had been if management felt that the compensation Draft picks it would have received once Marte left would have been more than what was being offered.
Marte, who has served as the team's closer since Matt Capps went on the disabled list at the beginning of the month, was the Pirates' premier left-handed setup man. In 47 appearances this season, Marte had limited opponents to a .217 average. He had 47 strikeouts in 46 1/3 innings. Marte has been with the Pirates since the start of the 2006 season. The two prime trade pieces netted four prospects which management expects to help increase the depth within the organization. With the evident organizational need being pitching, the Pirates received three pitchers that are all close to being Major League ready. Two, Ohlendorf and Karstens, already have big league experience. "As we talked about from the beginning, in order to be a successful, sustainable, championship-caliber organization that plays meaningful games into September and October, we need to have options," Huntington said. "Unfortunately, we've not had the necessary depth to be able to sustain injury, to be able to sustain less than ideal performance. This deal ... will begin this process of beginning to accumulate that necessary depth." Ohlendorf and Tabata appear to be the two centerpieces of the deal. Tabata has been one of the bright prospects in the Yankees' system since signing as a non-drafted free agent out of Venezuela in 2004. The 19-year-old outfielder was listed by Baseball America as the third-best prospect in the Yankees' organization coming into the season. However, Tabata, who is hitting .248 in Double-A this season, has had some rifts with the organization as well. He was suspended by the organization for three games earlier this season after not backing up another outfielder on a fly ball. He has three homers, 36 RBIs and 10 stolen bases. Pirates utilityman Doug Mientkiewicz, who played one year in the Yankees organization, referred to Tabata as "a little Manny Ramirez." Ohlendorf, a 26-year-old sinkerball pitcher, has appeared in 25 games out of the bullpen for the Yankees this season. He went 1-1 with a 6.53 ERA in that role. The Yankees, however, recently sent Ohlendorf back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to return to a starting role. In three starts, the report out of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre was that the right-hander was beginning to maintain his velocity better, which had the organization believing he could stick as a starter down the road. Ohlendorf was initially acquired by the Yankees when they sent Randy Johnson back to Arizona in January 2007. McCutchen started the season at Double-A, making nine starts and going 4-3 with a 2.55 ERA. The 25-year-old righthander limited hitters to a .219 average. Since then, McCutchen has made 11 Triple-A starts, where he has posted a 4-6 record and a 3.58 ERA. The 13th-round Draft pick in 2006 was also suspended for 50 games that season after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. However, it later was revealed that McCutchen tested positive for Adderall, a drug prescribed by his doctor for attention deficit disorder. Karstens has limited Major League experience, having combined to make 15 appearances (nine starts) for the Yankees in 2006 and 2007. His Major League totals include a 3-5 record with a 5.65 ERA, 20 walks and 21 strikeouts. Karstens, 25, has gone 6-4 with a 3.80 ERA in 12 Triple-A starts this season. "Hopefully, the guys coming are going to be the next Xavier Nady or Damaso Marte," said Pirates outfielder Jason Bay on Friday, shortly after learning of the trade. With the loss of Nady and Marte, the Pirates have two open spots on both their 25- and 40-man rosters. All corresponding moves will be announced later on Saturday, with Steve Pearce expected to move up from Triple-A to take Nady's roster spot.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. 07/26/2008 3:18 PM ET
New Yankee Nady in lineup vs. Sox
New York officially completes trade for outfielder, reliever Marte
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
BOSTON -- The Yankees completed their trade for outfielder Xavier Nady and left-handed reliever Damaso Marte on Saturday, immediately inserting Nady into New York's lineup for an afternoon game at Fenway Park. Nady and Marte were acquired from the Pirates in exchange for four players -- outfield prospect Jose Tabata and right-handed pitchers Ross Ohlendorf, Jeff Karstens and Dan McCutchen. The deal was officially completed on Saturday morning. Nady arrived in Boston and went straight from the airport to the batting cage, shaking hands with Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and receiving a hug from Alex Rodriguez at the bat rack while the Yanks took batting practice. Nady was issued uniform No. 29 and took instruction from Johnny Damon and bench coach Rob Thomson on playing the Green Monster, as Nady -- mostly a right fielder with Pittsburgh -- prepared to make the start in left. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he also expected Marte, who is wearing No. 40, to be available in the bullpen for the 3:55 p.m. ET game against the Red Sox.
In corresponding roster moves, the Yankees optioned outfielder Brett Gardner to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and designated right-handed reliever LaTroy Hawkins for assignment. New York also outrighted left-handed pitcher Kei Igawa to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, clearing him from the 40-man roster after he passed through waivers earlier this week.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. 07/26/2008 4:04 PM ET
Yanks complete deal for Nady, Marte
Bombers send Ohlendorf, three prospects to Pirates in deal
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
BOSTON -- The Yankees completed their trade for outfielder Xavier Nady and left-handed reliever Damaso Marte on Saturday, immediately inserting Nady into New York's lineup for an afternoon game at Fenway Park. Nady and Marte were acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for four players -- outfield prospect Jose Tabata and right-handed pitchers Ross Ohlendorf, Jeff Karstens and Dan McCutchen. The deal was officially completed on Saturday morning. "It was hard to give up what we did, but you have to give to get," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. Nady arrived in Boston and went straight from the airport to the batting cage, shaking hands with Cashman and receiving a hug from third baseman Alex Rodriguez at the bat rack while the Yankees took batting practice. He was issued uniform No. 29 and took instruction from Johnny Damon and bench coach Rob Thomson on playing the Green Monster, as Nady -- mostly a right fielder with Pittsburgh -- made the start in left field. "He's right-handed and a productive hitter," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He's driving in runs and doing everything that you'd want a hitter to do. He's running the bases -- I wouldn't consider him a basestealer, but he knows how to run the bases." Girardi said that he also expected Marte, who is wearing No. 40, to be available in the bullpen for the Yankees' game against the Red Sox. "The one thing that Marte gives us is a proven left-hander," Girardi said. "It also gives us two lefties in a sense, because Edwar [Ramirez], we treat him as a lefty a lot of the time. Sometimes, you need two lefties in a game, and it gives us more flexibility. You might see guys not starting an inning and coming in after one out or two outs." Cashman detailed the progression of talks with the Pirates, which opened with the Yankees checking in on Marte. Pittsburgh had long held interest in Ohlendorf, and when Pirates general manager Neal Huntington brought up Tabata's name, Cashman floated a "weather balloon" of asking for Nady. When Pittsburgh did not shoot the idea down outright, Cashman felt that a trade could be made. Original reports had the Pirates also receiving Minor League pitchers Phil Coke and George Kontos, but that changed overnight, leading to the inclusion of Karstens and McCutchen. Cashman explained that the Pirates were working from a list of prospects they could request, and Coke was even pulled from a start at Double-A Trenton on Friday as a precaution. Pittsburgh made a final selection on Saturday morning, essentially completing the deal, Cashman said. Cashman said that one major factor in the trade was that both Nady and Marte could be under the Yankees' control beyond 2008. Nady is arbitration-eligible after this season, and he will not touch free agency until 2010, while Marte has a $6 million club option for '09 that the Yankees could pick up or allow him to leave in exchange for Draft compensation. "To give up those pieces, I wouldn't have done it if it was a rental for a few months," Cashman said. In corresponding roster moves, the Yankees optioned outfielder Brett Gardner to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and designated right-handed reliever LaTroy Hawkins for assignment. Girardi said that Gardner will play every day at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and said the move to say goodbye to Hawkins was a "tough call." "LaTroy Hawkins is a quality guy, and I think he's played an important role in the maturation of our young pitchers down there," Girardi said. "He is just a great guy to have on your team -- great attitude every day. I really believe that his stuff has improved. I believe that he can help a club." In 33 appearances, Hawkins was 1-1 with a 5.71 ERA. New York also outrighted left-handed pitcher Kei Igawa to Triple-A, clearing him from the 40-man roster after he passed through waivers earlier this week. Igawa was moved because the Yankees expect to have numerous players possibly coming off the 60-day disabled list soon, including Brian Bruney, Phil Hughes and Carl Pavano. Nady's acquisition makes it more likely that the season has ended for both Hideki Matsui (left knee) and Jorge Posada (right shoulder). Matsui is attempting to come back to the Yankees' lineup, and he will be permitted to continue doing so, since he can have arthroscopic surgery after the season and not have it affect his readiness for Opening Day 2009. The longer Posada waits to have his capsule tear and frayed labrum repaired, an estimated six-month recovery period could begin to creep into the next season, which will probably lead the Yankees to abandon the idea that the veteran catcher could return in '08 as a first baseman and designated hitter. "If we feel we have enough pieces, we might not have to delay the surgery," Cashman said. "It's certainly something that's on the table."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. 07/25/2008 11:39 PM ET
Yankees' focus unchanged after deal
New York (57-45) at Boston (60-44), Saturday, 3:55 p.m. ET
By Mike Petraglia / Special to MLB.com
BOSTON -- A fresh look for the Yankees comes just as the club is making a move in the American League East. On Saturday, the Bombers play the second of their three-game weekend series against the Red Sox at Fenway Park, with Andy Pettitte opposing Boston knuckleballer Tim Wakefield on FOX. Friday night's 1-0 win extended New York's win streak to seven, drawing the Yankees to within two games of secondplace Boston in the AL East and three back still of Tampa Bay, which beat Kansas City, 5-3. During Friday's game, the Bombers acquired lefty reliever Damaso Marte and outfielder Xavier Nady from the Pirates for Ross Ohlendorf and three Minor Leaguers. "Guys get used to their roles and they're able to prepare for the situation, and in a sense manage the game and have an idea of when they're coming in," Yankees skipper Joe Girardi said. "When new parts come in, if new parts come, you're able to put guys in situations where they understand pretty quickly what they're going to do."
Even with general manager Brian Cashman helping the team with a trade, Girardi realizes the biggest news will eventually be made on the field during the weekend. "Obviously, this time of year, both teams need wins," Girardi added. "The intensity in this series is always off the charts. The atmosphere is always great. We have a big three-game series, and obviously, you always talk about wanting to take series."
07/26/2008 3:04 PM ET
Yankees acquire LHP Damaso Marte and OF Xavier Nady from Pittsburgh in a six-player deal
The New York Yankees announced today that they have acquired left-handed pitcher Damaso Marte and outfielder Xavier Nady from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for right-handed pitchers Jeff Karstens, Dan McCutchen and Ross Ohlendorf, and outfielder Jose Tabata.
Marte, 33, was 4-0 with five saves and a 3.47 ERA in 47 relief appearances with the Pirates this season, striking out 47 batters in 46.2 innings pitched and walking only 16. He has held opponents to a .217 batting average, including a .200 mark vs. right-handers (24-for-120) and a .255 average against lefties (14-for-55). Since becoming the Pirates' full-time closer on July 2, when Matt Capps went on the disabled list, Marte converted each of his five save opportunities. Over his last 45 outings since April 5, he has worked to a 2.35 ERA (46.0IP, 12ER). Originally signed by Seattle as a non-drafted free agent in 1992, Marte has made 494 career Major League relief appearances combined with the Mariners (1999), White Sox (2002-05) and Pirates (2001, '06-08), going 21-21 with 36 saves, a 3.31 ERA, 202 walks, 484 strikeouts and a .223 opponents batting average, including a career .198 opponents average vs. left-handers. He was signed by the Yankees as a minor league free agent in November 2000, going 3-1 with a 3.50 ERA at Double-A Norwich before being traded to Pittsburgh in exchange for infielder Enrique Wilson. Marte was a member of the 2005 World Series Champion Chicago White Sox. In his four seasons in the American League with the White Sox, the lefthander ranked third among AL relievers in appearances (279), fifth in strikeouts (281), and ninth in ERA (2.81) and opponents average (.210). Nady, 29, was batting a team-high .330 (108-for-327) with 26 doubles, 1 triple, 13 home runs and 57 RBI in 89 games (82 starts in right field) with Pittsburgh. He ranks fifth in the National League in batting average and is tied for tops in the league with 10 outfield assists in 2008. The outfielder has hit safely in his last 13 games, one shy of his career high and the longest active hitting streak in the Majors. He has reached base in 39 of his last 41 games (with an at-bat), batting .347 (52-for-150) with 12 doubles and six home runs over the stretch. Selected by San Diego in the second round of the 2000 First-Year Player Draft, Nady owns a .281 career batting average with 113 doubles, 75 home runs and 283 RBI in 613 games combined over parts of seven seasons with the Padres (2003-05), Mets (2006) and Pirates (2006-08). He established career highs in home runs (20) and RBI (72) in 2007 with Pittsburgh. Karstens, selected by the Yankees in the 19th round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, combined to go 3-5 with a 5.65 ERA in 15 games (nine starts) with the Yankees over two seasons (2006-07). After opening the 2008 season on the Yankees' 15-day disabled list with a right groin strain, he has gone 6-4 with a 3.80 ERA in 12 starts with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. McCutchen, a 13th round selection by the Yankees in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, was 8-9 with a 3.14 ERA, striking out 110 batters in 113.1IP with only 29BB in 20 combined starts with Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2008. Ohlendorf, acquired from Arizona in the 2007 Randy Johnson trade, was on the Yankees' 2008 Opening Day roster and made 25 appearances, going 1-1 with a 6.53 ERA before being optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on June 27. He appeared on the Yankees' 2007 postseason roster, pitching 1.0 inning of relief in Game 1 of the Division Series at Cleveland (4H, 3ER). Tabata was batting .248 (73-for-294) with nine doubles, three home runs and 36 RBI in 79 games with Double-A Trenton this season. He was originally signed as a non-drafted free agent and was named the Yankees' third-best prospect entering 2008 by Baseball America. He is currently on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring.
07/26/2008 2:04 AM ET
Pirates moving forward after trade
Pittsburgh (48-55) vs. San Diego (39-65), Saturday, 7:05 p.m. ET
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- It's only natural for the initial reaction after learning that Damaso Marte and Xavier Nady had been traded away to be that of shock and disappointment. But by the time their now former teammates were getting ready to leave PNC Park after Friday's loss, the 23 players left in the clubhouse spoke about the need to move forward. "It's sad to see them go, but it's another opportunity for guys to step up and move in," Doug Mientkiewicz said. "That's what smaller franchises go through. It's tough losing friends, but you also understand that that's just how it goes." As the team prepares to move forward without two of its most impactful pieces, there are still a number of questions looming. First, the Pirates must replace their everyday right fielder. Jason Michaels took Nady's spot in right when Nady was taken out of the game on Friday and could well see much of the playing time there now. Mientkiewicz, too, could fill in if needed. The Pirates are also expected to bring up an outfielder from Triple-A to assume Nady's roster spot. Though Andrew McCutchen remains close to denting the Major League roster, Nyjer Morgan and Steve Pearce remain the most likely possibilities. Pearce did not play in Indianapolis' game on Friday, which could be an indication that he is preparing to head to Pittsburgh. A roster move won't be announced until Friday's deal is made official. That could come as soon as Saturday morning.
Also, the loss of Nady forces the Pirates to move forward without one of their biggest clubhouse presences and middle-of-the-lineup bats. "He was a huge part of the team, one of the best clubhouse presences that we had," Jason Bay said. "It's tough to replace guys like that. But this isn't the first trade in baseball that's ever been made. It's part of the game." In the bullpen, the loss of Marte leaves the Pirates without a closer. Marte had taken over closing duties this month after Matt Capps went down with injury. With Capps out for at least another month, it would seem most likely that Tyler Yates or John Grabow would step into the ninth inning role. While manager John Russell was not ready to make any decisions, he now faces yet another shakeup in roles in the 'pen. "It's got to sink in a little bit," Russell said. "We'll sit down as a staff either tonight or tomorrow morning and see where we are. We obviously feel like we've still got some good candidates, and we'll go from there. I'm not going to pinpoint anybody at this point. " The Pirates will also call up a reliever to fill the bullpen vacancy left by the loss of Marte. While Ross Ohlendorf, one of the four prospects the Yankees will be sending to Pittsburgh as part of the deal, could be a candidate, it is unknown if the Pirates see him as ready to return to the Majors. The team is hopeful of having most of these questions answered by Saturday night, as they face the Padres in the third game of a four-game set. And with that, they are prepared to move on. "It's part of the game," Russell said. "You don't prepare yourself for it. You don't sit around and dwell on it. You move on. You just have to pull together and continue to push on."
07/26/2008 1:30 PM ET
Pirates acquire three starting pitchers and an outfielder for Nady and Marte
The Pittsburgh Pirates today announced they have acquired right-handed starting pitchers Jeff Karstens, Daniel McCutchen and Ross Ohlendorf and outfielder Jose Tabata from the New York Yankees organization in exchange for outfielder Xavier Nady and left-handed relief pitcher Damaso Marte. The announcement was made by Pirates Senior Vice President, General Manager Neal Huntington. "The Pirates are excited to add four quality players to our system," said Huntington. "With Karstens, McCutchen and Olendorf, we were able to add three quality starting pitchers to our system. With Tabata, we added a talented young outfield prospect who has all of the tools to become a member of what we believe will be an athletic and productive outfield. Pirates fans caught a glimpse of Tabata when he participated in the 2006 Futures Game at PNC Park as a 17-year old. "It was not easy for us to part with Nady and Marte because both players are outstanding individuals and were important parts of what has become a very close knit Pirate team. Both players' value was higher today than it was during the off-season which allowed us to secure four young players we believe will help us achieve our goal of becoming a championship caliber organization again. We wish Xavier and Damaso continued success as they continue their careers with the Yankees." Jeff Karstens went 6-4 with a 3.80 ERA (68.2ip/29er) and 55 strikeouts this year for Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre. He also posted a 1.88 ERA (24.0ip/5er) in four starts during the month of June, which ranked fourth among all Eastern League pitchers. The 25-year-old Karstens has also gone 3-5 with a 5.65 ERA (57.1ip/36er) in 15 games (nine starts) in parts of the last two seasons with the Yankees. Following the 2007 campaign, he also pitched for Team USA, where he was 2-0 with a team-best 0.69 ERA in two starts that helped lead the US squad to win the IBAF World Cup in Taiwan. Daniel McCutchen began the 2008 campaign with Double-A Trenton, where he was 4-3 with a 2.55 ERA (53.0ip/15er) and 52 strikeouts. In his first month of action the 25-year-old McCutchen went 3-1 with a 1.42 ERA (31.2ip/5er), which ranked second among all Eastern League pitchers. McCutchen, was then promoted to Scranton-Wilkes Barre on May 21. In his 11 starts with the Triple-A club, he went 4-6 with a 3.58 ERA (70.1ip/28er) and 58 strikeouts; he went 3-0
with a 2.66 ERA in his final three starts. Last year McCutchen posted a combined record of 14-4 and a 2.47 ERA in 24 appearances (23 starts) with Single-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton while being tabbed as having the "Best Control" by Baseball America among all Florida State League pitchers. Ross Ohlendorf made 25 appearances out of the Yankees' bullpen to begin the 2008 campaign before being optioned to their Triple-A affiliate on June 27. In his five starts with Scranton-Wilkes Barre, the hard-throwing righthander went 1-1 with a 4.03 ERA (22.1ip/10er) and 25 strikeouts. Ohlendorf also appeared in six games with the Yankees in 2007 and went 0-0 with a 2.81 ERA (6.1ip/2er) and nine strikeouts.
Pirates fall short on emotional night
LaRoche blasts pair of homers; Nady, Marte traded
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates fell to the Padres, 6-5, in front of 25,727 fans at PNC Park on Friday night. The results, and even the game, though, felt completely secondary. Everything started as normal. A 7:05 p.m. ET first pitch. The typical Friday home red uniforms. Zach Duke beginning the game with a painless 1-2-3 first inning. It all changed very quickly, however, as Xavier Nady stepped into the on-deck circle with teammate Jason Bay up at the plate with one on and two out in the first. Nady was summoned back into the dugout and immediately informed that he was a part of a trade that, pending medical evaluations, will send he and reliever Damaso Marte to the Yankees for four prospects. Nady would be pulled from the game and replaced by Jason Michaels in right field. Marte would soon be announced as unavailable. The timing wasn't impeccable, forcing teammates to say goodbyes and exchange hurried hugs and handshakes while the game continued. By the end of the game, the clubhouse stalls for both players were empty. Both had left the ballpark. However, in the midst of the sudden news and amid the curiosity that followed as players tried to learn the details of the trade, there was a moment that in a way summed up the bond that this team has developed over the course of the season. "It was emotional," Pirates manager John Russell said. "It was kind of a situation where it happened rather quickly. It was a special moment in a lot of ways. You could feel an outpouring for those guys when they came in and said goodbye. It was genuine feelings there that they were a huge part of this team. Guys were wishing them well. It was a nice moment for everybody. It was obviously sad in some ways, but to see them rally together was nice." Both players had become integral parts of the club. Nady's .330 average led the team, and his bat had been the most consistent all season. Marte had been thrust into the closer's role in recent weeks and had become one of the top left-handed setup men in baseball. "It's tough," said Duke, who dropped to 4-8 with the loss. "You never want to lose good guys as teammates. But we go through it every year here. It's a tough situation. But you've got to focus on the game." They would soon enough. But besides two solo home runs by Adam LaRoche -- one in the second, the other in the fourth -- the game passed by in those first few innings with understandably less than full attention. As Bay said afterward, that's just human nature. "It caught a lot of people by surprise," the left fielder said. "The first couple of innings were a lot of, 'Did you hear?' The game almost became secondary and I think once everyone got over that, it was back to baseball. But I think it's only human that there was a little bit of a lull." No one called it a distraction, but the effect was evident. It would also be evident, though, in the team rallying together to try to come back from a 5-2 deficit late. "You could sense it on the bench," Russell said. "These guys knew they had to come together. We were two players short tonight and you could feel the intensity and the focus." Duke came into the game not having won since June 9, a span of eight starts. He lasted six innings, but exited after giving up five runs on seven hits. A two-run homer by Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez stung, as did a pair of doubles by former Pirate Brian Giles, who scored after both. "It's frustrating because aside from the home run and the ball that went over [center fielder] Nate's [McLouth] head, it's not like they were hitting the ball hard," Duke said. "They placed some good ones." In the meantime, the Pirates ran themselves right out of some opportune scoring situations. In the third, Freddy Sanchez was thrown out at the plate trying to score from first on a one-out double by Ryan Doumit. The inning then ended quietly as Bay grounded out.
Then in the sixth, a Pirates rally was quickly halted on an unorthodox inning-ending double play. After already plating one in the inning, the Pirates had runners at the corners and one out. Pinch-hitter Chris Gomez dropped an RBI single into right field, scoring one, and sending Doug Mientkiewicz scrambling to third. Mientkiewicz would be thrown out. Gomez would then also be thrown out trying to advance to second after Mientkiewicz was tagged out at third. "We had some baserunning issues," Bay said. "Because we lost by one run, that becomes a little more prevalent. We're not going to get a win every night. We know that. But to put ourselves in position where if we can do that every night, we'll be all right." The Pirates were also unable to take better advantage in the eighth, when down by two, the first three hitters reached base. LaRoche stuck out, Mientkiewicz flied out to short center and Jack Wilson popped out to short. Squeezed in there was a two-out walk to Jose Bautista that forced in one run, but nonetheless, a greater opportunity was missed. In the end, though, the clubhouse was more reflective than anything else. There was reflecting on teammates that will be missed, yet, also a desire to keep moving on. "I think we handled it pretty well," Bay said. "There was a little initial reaction up and down the dugout. But we came back and we put ourselves in a chance to win the game. We could have easily just folded and chalked it up to the big trade for being a reason we weren't focused."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. 07/26/2008 12:43 AM ET
A look at the Pirates' new prospects
Once likened to Ramirez, mercurial Tabata has highest ceiling
By Kevin T. Czerwinski / MLB.com
07/26/2008 12:43 AM ET
It wasn't a surprise that the Pirates were going to deal Xavier Nady. And New York was one of the destinations that had been mentioned. But it was Queens, not the Bronx, where most people thought he would wind up. The Yankees had more to offer than the Mets, though, in terms of prospects. While Pittsburgh received a high-ceiling outfielder in Jose Tabata, the remaining three players they received aren't any more highly regarded than those they would have received from the Mets. Still, to get a quartet of players, including three pitchers, for Nady and left-hander Damaso Marte is more than they would have received from most teams. Here's a closer look at the players the Pirates received: Jose Tabata, OF: The New York tabloids at one point last season had the audacity to liken Tabata to Manny Ramirez. He's young, he's talented and he was supposed to be one of the prospects to whom the Yankees were keeping a firm hold. But along with being young and talented, he's also temperamental, so maybe the Manny comparisons weren't too far off after all. Tabata bolted from the Trenton Thunder at the end of April in an incident that ultimately may have played a role in making him a future Buc instead of a future Bomber. He had been struggling through the first month of the season when his frustrations came to a head on April 26 at New Britain. After striking out for the second time against the
Rock Cats in an Eastern League contest, Tabata went into the visiting clubhouse, picked his belongs and left the stadium. The Yankees suspended him for three days and welcomed him back after he apologized and copped to being immature. He was hitting .200 when he walked out on the team and has batted .270 since returning, raising his average to .248. Tabata has three homers, 36 RBIs, 10 stolen bases and a bunch of unanswered questions that have cropped up about his makeup since the incident. If he can put that behind him and continue to rebound and play the way he played early on in his career with New York, then the Pirates could have a nice young outfielder to build around. He hit .314 as a 17-year-old in the Gulf Coast League in 2005 and was batting .305 at Class A Charleston of the South Atlantic League the following July when he was hit by a pitch on the right wrist. Doctors struggled to make a diagnosis and he played with a sore hand for much of 2007 before having the hamate bone removed in August. Still, he hit .307 and had 54 RBIs in the Florida State League. While there was talk that he was the heir apparent to Bobby Abreu in right field, his inconsistencies and obvious immaturity have tarnished his reputation as being one of the brighter prospects in baseball. George Kontos, RHP: Kontos has had some problems as well. He had a run-in with the law last April in Tampa as he prepared to follow up what had been a successful rookie season with Staten Island in 2006. The Northwestern product was arrested after he refused to leave a bar at closing time on April 19. He was put on the disabled list with what was called a shoulder contusion and missed the next two months before coming back to finish the season at 4-6 with a 4.02 ERA in the Florida State League. His performance this season in Trenton has not been much better. He's 3-9 with a 3.77 ERA in 20 starts -- 1-5 with a 4.27 ERA in his last 10 starts. He has a decent sinker and the Yankees force-fed him on a changeup during Hawaii Winter Baseball with both pitches setting up a low-90s fastball. Still, he has a way to go and at the moment projects as a back end of the rotation starter or middle reliever. Phil Coke, LHP: Coke's numbers certainly look nifty enough, especially the part where he's 9-5 with a 2.76 ERA in 20 games (19 starts), all but one of them coming at Trenton. But then you see he's 26 and still pitching in Double-A and wonder if he's coming close to that dreaded journeyman status. This is his sixth Minor League season and, despite coming out of college when drafted, he's only reached the Eastern League. On the plus side, after a poor start to the season, Coke has pitched better. He hasn't allowed a run in three of his last four starts and has a 1.53 ERA since May 2. Yankee brass had begun to notice Coke and clearly, the Pirates had as well. What remains to be seen is whether he can continue to pitch well at Double-A Altoona, Triple-A Indianapolis or in Pittsburgh, should the need arise. Ross Ohlendorf, RHP: The most experienced of the quartet the Pirates received, Ohlendorf was with the Yankees the first three months of the season after appearing in six Major League games last year. His big claim to fame is that he was part of the trade that sent Randy Johnson back to the Diamondbacks in January 2007. Ohlendorf has seen considerable time at the Triple-A level over the last three seasons and had appeared for 25 games out of the bullpen for the Yanks this year, going 1-1 with a 6.53 ERA. He has been used mostly as a starter throughout his career since the Diamondbacks took him in the fourth round out of Princeton in 2004. His departure from New York coincided with Sidney Ponson's arrival. Ohlendorf was 1-1 with a 4.03 ERA in five starts for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre but took the loss in his last start, a 5 2/3-inning effort against Richmond on Thursday in which he allowed four runs on nine hits.
Kevin Czerwinski is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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