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Pirates notebook: Barajas shakes off knee woes, returns to lineup

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Friday, July 6, 2012, 7:38 p.m.

Rod Barajas started behind the plate Friday, a day after he was a late scratch because of lingering issues with a bone bruise to his left knee.

He has started just two of the past 10 games since getting injured June 25 in Philadelphia.

“Rod's probably in a position where he could be more aggressive and take more innings, but why, the way (Michael) McKenry's playing, the way he is handling the staff the way he is, the way he's been swinging the bat,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “It's given him more opportunity to get much healthier, quicker.”

• Left-hander Daniel Moskos was claimed off waivers by the Chicago White Sox. The Pirates designated the former first-round draft pick for assignment June 26.

• Right-hander Chris Leroux and lefty Doug Slaten cleared waivers and were outrighted to Triple-A Indianapolis. They are expected to report within the week.

• Double-A Altoona sent Andrew McCutchen a box of dreadlock hats the team handed out as a promotion Friday, and Josh Harrison used one to try to fool reporters. Harrison donned a hat and sat slumped over his phone at McCutchen's locker as the media entered, but a few of his teammates weren't so great at keeping the secret, and most reporters figured it out before approaching “McCutchen” for an interview.

• Friday was the fifth time this season the Pirates started a home game with the temperature at least 90 degrees. It was 94 at game time.

• Hurdle shared what he plans to tell his players before the All-Star break: “This is a very similar position to what we were in last year. How are we different. Why are we different? What's going to be different? Go home, relax, and think about being different and being uncommon the second half. Let's do something different than we did last year.”

Jeff Karstens had a nasty curveball Thursday as the Pirates swept the Astros, the extent of which Hurdle didn't fully appreciate until after the game. “Not just the left-handed hitters, the right-handed hitters. He had both of them going,” Hurdle said. “It went to that spot and due left, hard left. Reminds me of when you watch pro bowlers, how they'll let that ball go and it goes down the side, and then you just watch it crash to the middle. I didn't see the front view until last night on the news when I got home. It was very impressive.”

— Karen Price

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