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Huntington still feels good about Bay trade

PHOENIX — Pirates general manager Neal Huntington has no regrets about the Jason Bay trade.

A year ago, Huntington watched the clock tick to within 15 minutes of the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline and figured Bay was staying with the Pirates. But after a flurry of last-minute talks, Bay went to Boston as part of a three-team deal that brought four players to Pittsburgh.

Although he's prone to slumps, third baseman Andy LaRoche looks to be a keeper. Brandon Moss is a platoon outfielder. Wild-armed reliever Craig Hansen is on the 60-day disabled list. Pitcher Bryan Morris, racked by poor control, is 2-5 with a 5.89 ERA for Single-A Lynchburg.

"We still feel good about our process and the return," Huntington said. "Twelve months later, it might not be what everybody would've loved to have gotten for Bay. But three years from now is the real time to evaluate it.

"We can't look back on things. We can learn from it, but we can't say, 'Well, we should've gotten more,' because we knew what we had on the table, and we felt good about it."

In the two months after the trade, Bay batted .293 with nine home runs for the Red Sox. This season, he is hitting .252 with 20 homers. Boston has tried, without success, to sign him to a contract extension.

"With what Jason's done, you could argue that (the return) was not enough," Huntington admitted. "But if every other team thought Jason Bay was going to have the kind of year he's having, they would've been willing to give up a heck of a lot more than they were a year ago."

Money matters

The five players the Pirates have traded — Nate McLouth, Adam LaRoche, Nyjer Morgan, Sean Burnett and Eric Hinske — were slated to make a combined $12.87 million this year. However, Huntington rejected any suggestion the moves were salary dumps.

McLouth's $3.5 million salary was in the form of a signing bonus and already has been paid. The Pirates sent cash to the New York Yankees to cover Hinske's $1.5 million salary. Morgan ($411,500) and Burnett ($408,500) were making near the major-league minimum. No cash was involved in the deal for LaRoche, who is making $7.05 million.

"It is (owner) Bob Nutting's intention that any money saved from trades goes back into baseball operations," Huntington said.

Big spender

When a major-leaguer makes a rehab stint in the minors, it's good baseball etiquette for him to treat his temporary teammates to a postgame meal. Folks around the Single-A State College Spikes still talk about Zach Duke's splurge in September 2007.

Duke, who made one rehab start with the Spikes, spent more than $800 to have Outback Steakhouse cater the clubhouse spread.

"It's just kind of what you do," Duke said. "You want to take care of the young guys and do something nice for them."

The Spikes should be eating well again today. Lefty Phil Dumatrait, on the mend from shoulder surgery, will join the team to pitch against Batavia.

It will be the second start of Dumatrait's rehab. He will be limited to five innings and 80 pitches.

Around the horn

Second baseman Freddy Sanchez (left knee) and shortstop Jack Wilson (left hamstring) were back in the lineup Saturday. Wilson had missed four games and Sanchez one. ... Major League Baseball wrapped up its investigation of Dominican prospect Miguel Sano without precisely determining his age. The Pirates are the only team known to have offered Sano a free-agent contract, but the bidding likely will intensify this week. ... Outfielder Lastings Milledge was ejected in the second inning after striking out in last night's game at Triple-A Indianapolis.

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