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'American Coyotes' Series

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.

Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012, 6:48 p.m.

The Pirates on Thursday began their offseason roster sculpting by claiming two minor leaguers, pitcher Chad Beck and catcher Ali Solis, off waivers.

The moves came as owner Bob Nutting continued his personal review of the front office and its scouting, training and player acquisition methods. Nutting, who is attending the World Series in San Francisco, was not available for comment.

Nutting likely will wrap up his evaluations in the next few days. If Nutting opts to replace any of his executives, the Pirates must move quickly once the Series is over, as deadlines loom in November for protecting prospects from the Rule 5 draft and tendering offers to abitration-eligible players.

General manager Neal Huntington and his staff are under fire for Navy SEAL-like training routines for prospects. During a phone call Thursday night, Huntington politely declined to comment on the controversy.

To clear spots for Beck and Solis on the 40-man roster, catcher Eric Fryer and first baseman Jeff Clement were designated for assignment.

Beck, 27, was claimed after being waived by the Toronto Blue Jays. The right-hander spent most of this past season at Triple-A Las Vegas, where he went 2-0 with a 1.31 ERA and 18 saves in 43 outings. With a fastball that's clocked the mid-90s mph, Beck got 24 strikeouts in 48 innings, but he lacks a reliable secondary pitch. In 14 games with the Blue Jays, Beck had a 6.32 ERA.

“He has a good arm,” Huntington said. “His breaking ball is a work in progress.”

Solis, 25, hit .283 with six homers and 40 RBI this year at Double-A San Antonio. He played in five games for the San Diego Padres in September and could provide depth in the minors.

Huntington will scour a weak free-agent market and mull trades to acquire someone who could at least split time with Michael McKenry. It won't be easy.

“Catcher is a position of scarcity,” he said.

The team is not expected to pick up Rod Barajas' $3.5 million option for 2013. Barajas said via text message Thursday the Pirates have not yet told him of their decision. The deadline is three days after the World Series.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at

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