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Notebook: Beam, Van Benschoten rejoin Bucs

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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.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Right-hander T.J. Beam left town early Thursday morning after the Pirates optioned him to Triple-A Indianapolis.

A day later, he drove back to Pittsburgh.

"It was nice to see those guys (at Indy)," Beam said Saturday afternoon as he unpacked in the Pirates' clubhouse. "But it's nicer to see these guys."

The Pirates recalled Beam and put reliever Franquelis Osoria on the disabled list. They also brought up right-hander John Van Benschoten from Indianapolis and optioned outfielder Nyjer Morgan to Indy.

Osoria has bursitis in his right ankle, which bothers him when he pushes off during his delivery. Osoria's ankle has been sore the past five days or so.

With the bullpen shorthanded yesterday -- Sean Burnett and John Grabow were shelved after combining for five innings Friday -- Van Benschoten was available to pitch middle relief. He's also penciled in to start Wednesday's game in Cincinnati.

"We have to get through these next couple of days," manager John Russell said. "Let's not get too far ahead of ourselves."

No joke

Indianapolis manager Trent Jewett called Van Benschoten's cell phone the with news that he and Beam were being sent to Pittsburgh. Beam wasn't sure at first whether Jewett was joking about the recall.

"I was like, 'C'mon, Trent. Be serious,' " Beam said.

Jewett convinced Beam he was telling the truth, then said the two pitchers would share a ride from Columbus, Ohio, (where Indianapolis was playing a road series) to Pittsburgh.

"That's my job -- the chauffeur," Van Benschoten said.

Bautista's OK

Right-handed reliever Denny Bautista has a contusion on his right forearm, but he was not placed on the DL. Bautista was struck by a line drive Friday in his Pirates debut.

Bautista's arm was swollen yesterday, but he was able to play catch in the afternoon.

"If everything continues to progress the way we think it will, we should be able to use him by Monday," Russell said. "Him being able to throw today was a good sign."

Another 'first' for Burnett

Sean Burnett has encountered a few "firsts" -- first save, first back-to-back outings -- this season as he makes the transition from starting pitcher to reliever.

Friday night, the left-hander made his first emergency relief appearance after Bautista was injured.

"That's the first time I'd thrown three innings in a while," said Burnett, who allowed one run, two hits and struck out two. "The toughest part was (warming up) in front of 20,000 people. That was pretty awkward, and it took me awhile to get loose."

Because of the injury, Burnett was given extra time to warm up on the field. As he made his tosses, the "More Cowbell" skit from "Saturday Night Live" played on the video scoreboard.

"I probably know every line of that one by heart," Burnett said. "I tried not to laugh while I was warming up."

Minor matters

You have to admire catcher Steve Lerud's tenacity. This is his fifth year in the Pirates' farm system, and it was only last week that he finally was sent up to Double-A. Lerud, 23, was a non-roster invitee to spring training in 2006 and '07, and this year filled in for a few days when the Pirates were short on catchers in Bradenton, Fla. ... Bryan Bullington did not throw a pitch for 19 days, including a two-week stint with the Pirates. On Wednesday, in his third outing since rejoining Indianapolis, Bullington tossed the first 6 13 innings of a one-hitter against Buffalo. "I feel like I'm getting stronger each time out," Bullington said.

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