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Pirates OF McLouth's injury 'a little better'

SAN DIEGO — The Pirates are not ruling out a trip to the disabled list for center fielder Nate McLouth, who on Saturday missed his second straight game with a strained right oblique.

"Nate's a little better," manager John Russell said before the game. "But it's still day to day. Hopefully, we caught it early enough. If he hurt it real bad, he'll be sitting with (Ryan) Doumit, and Doumit might get back before he does. These are very tough injuries in baseball, and there's not much you can do for them."

Doumit is on the DL after having surgery to repair a fractured wrist. He is expected to be out eight to 10 weeks.

McLouth sustained the injury while swinging during batting practice Friday.

"It's a good sign that Nate's better today," Russell said. "But again, those obliques are not fun. I've known guys who've had problems with them, and it's a minimum of six weeks (on the DL)."

Hansen on DL

Reliever Craig Hansen (neck spasms) went on the 15-day DL, retroactive to April 20. Right-hander Evan Meek was called up from Triple-A Indianapolis.

Hansen began feeling stiffness at the base of his neck about halfway through spring training. Over the past few days, the pain moved up into his neck.

"The weird thing is, when I was throwing, it was kind of a pain reliever," Hansen said. "I wouldn't feel it when I was out there. I guess I was thinking about too many other things."

Wilson out again

Shortstop Jack Wilson was scratched from the lineup last night due to a sprained left middle finger.

It's the same finger Wilson injured during the April 13 home opener. Wilson missed three of the next four games because of the injury.

Friday night, Wilson played all 11 innings of the Pirates' 4-3 loss against the Padres. In the 10th inning, he had trouble fielding Chase Headley's grounder and wound up making an errant throw to first base.

Speed thrills

When the Pirates get on a roll on the basepaths, even some of the slower players get in on the act.

Monday, Adam LaRoche was almost halfway to second base before Florida Marlins reliever Logan Kensing let go of the ball. It seemed like a certain stolen base.

That would have been ... um, how many career steals for ol' Crazy Legs LaRoche?

"I lose track of 'em," LaRoche deadpanned.

For the record, LaRoche has swiped two bases in 703 career games. The Pirates' first baseman has been thrown out six times.

LaRoche would have had steal No. 3, but little brother Andy ripped a single up the middle. Adam stutter-stepped at second base, then chugged along to third. No steal.

"He's going to get fined for it," Adam said, trying hard not to crack a grin. "But, in his defense, it's tough to take an 0-2 slider down the middle."

There were two outs and, as big brother correctly pointed out, Andy was way behind in the count.

"If I had anything less than two strikes, I'm taking all the way, even if it's right down the middle," Andy said. "But I couldn't take a strikeout. And if I had taken it, Adam wouldn't have gotten a stolen base, anyway, because I would've been the third out. So I had no choice but to swing."

Work of art

The visiting manager's office at Petco Park is unlike those at practically every other ballpark in the majors. For starters, the walls are painted a mellow yellow, a pleasant change from the battleship gray or generic white in most offices.

Hanging on the wall next to John Russell's locker is a framed Vincent Van Gogh painting of bright yellow sunflowers in a vase.

Someone pointed out that the artwork is merely a poster, not the original masterpiece.

"Probably not," Russell said, dryly. "If it was, I wouldn't be here. I'd be retired."

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