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Pirates' Bay plays DH for 'home' crowd

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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.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

SEATTLE - It was the closest thing Jason Bay's gotten this season to a day off.

Bay was the Pirates' designated hitter Tuesday night against the Seattle Mariners. Xavier Nady got a rare start in left field.

"It's a little bit of a blow. I'm looking forward to it," Bay said before the game.

Bay is the only Pirates player to appear in all 70 games this season. He missed just three games last season and played in all 162 in 2005.

"Jason's virtually been out there for every inning of every game," Pirates manager Jim Tracy said. "This is a chance for him to go out there and just play offense. It will allow him to get his legs completely back under him."

It's a good time to give Bay a breather. Coming into the game, Bay was 5 for 46 (.109) over the previous 13 games. That's a considerable dropoff from May, when Bay batted .336 with 22 RBI in 29 games.

Tracy said he might use Bay at DH again later this week, when the Pirates play the Los Angeles Angels.

There was another benefit to putting Bay at DH. With Nady in left field, Ryan Doumit started in right. That allowed Tracy the flexibility to use Doumit at catcher later in the game, if something were to happen to Ronny Paulino, and not lose the DH.

Under American League rules, if a team's designated hitter is moved to a position, that team must have its pitchers bat the rest of the game.

"We don't want to put ourselves in a position where we're playing eight-on-nine," Tracy said.

Nady was the Pirates' DH two weeks ago, during the three-game set at Yankee Stadium. Nady went 3 for 11 (.273) with a homer.

"Yeah, there are some expectations for me," Bay said, grinning. "If I don't get it done, he'll be in there tomorrow."

Nady, sitting a few feet away, fired right back

"They wanted to put some speed out in left," Nady said.

Although this is the Pirates' first trip to Seattle, Nady played here before when he was with the San Diego Padres. He even logged a few innings in left field at Safeco Field.

"I'll go out and get some reads during (batting practice) and hopefully it will all come back to me," Nady said.

Bay grew up a Mariners fan in Trail, British Columbia. His parents made the seven-hour drive down here for this series -- and they had plenty of company last night in Section 151.

"The city organized a bus trip," Bay said. "My wife is from Kirkland (Wash.) and we live here in the offseason. Her father's got five brothers and sisters, and they've got like 20 kids. And then there's my whole side of the family. It's a big deal for a lot of people."

In all, there are a couple hundred folks waving Canadian flags and rooting for Bay.

"And that doesn't include the people who are coming on their own -- the college buddies and all that," Bay said. "There'll probably be some pretty tacky signs out there, I imagine."

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