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Pirates no longer in running for Ohka

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Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2007

The Pirates, still searching for a right-handed starter to add to the starting rotation, are out of the running for free-agent pitcher Tomo Ohka.

The Pirates made a two-year contract offer to Ohka. However, Ohka's agent, Monday, said the two sides had drifted apart over the past few days.

"Tomo won't be signing with the Pirates," Jim Masteralexis said. "The Pirates' interest cooled and our interests went in another direction."

Ohka, who went 4-5 with a 4.82 ERA last season for the Milwaukee Brewers, originally wanted a long-term contract but has changed his strategy. Now, he wants to sign a one-year deal and test free agency again next year.

"That opened doors with some other teams," Masteralexis said.

Ohka is mulling offers from the Washington Nationals and Toronto Blue Jays. The New York Mets also are in the mix.

A handful of free-agent pitchers are still on the market, including Jamey Wright, Jeff Weaver, Steve Trachsel, Chan Ho Park and Rick Helling.

If the Pirates fail to make a move, Shawn Chacon would be the frontrunner for the No. 5 spot in the rotation. Friday, Chacon avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $3.825 million contract with the Pirates.

Over the weekend, the Pirates were rebuffed by right-hander Brian Lawrence. Lawrence, who sat out last season after shoulder surgery, agreed to a one-year contract with the Colorado Rockies.

Ohka also is damaged goods. A rotator cuff injury which did not require surgery put him on the shelf from May 2 until July 17. He also sat out two weeks with sore hamstring.

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