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Notebook: Extra players increase Russell's options

| Sunday, Sept. 7, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO -- After rosters expand in September, teams which have fallen out of the playoff chase often give their young prospects increased playing time.

Inevitably, a contending team will complain that one of its pursuers got a break by facing another team's second-string lineup.

Pirates manager John Russell said the extra players give him more flexibility for late-game matchups, but he'll still play his regulars more often than not.

"We'll prepare and go out the same way we would against anybody," Russell said. "The only difference now is, we've got a few more players to do some different things."

The bullpen grew by four and is stocked with 11 relievers. Russell took full advantage in last week's series against Cincinnati, mixing and matching in the late innings.

Russell said these final few games are not open auditions.

"We going to play the guys who we think are best suited to give us a win that day," he said. "We've got some guys who are trying to finish out strong seasons. We've got some guys like (Brandon) Moss and Andy LaRoche, who we're trying to get a good look at. We're going to try to win. We're not going to back off on anything."

Posey plays, Alvarez waits

The Giants have put catcher Buster Posey, their first-round draft pick this year, on a fast track toward the majors. On Friday, Posey was assigned to Single-A San Jose to play in the California League playoffs. In a seven-day span, Posey played in the Arizona Rookie League, short-season Northwest League and finally the Cal League.

Posey, a Florida State product, was on the Pirates' short list of draft prospects. He was taken fifth overall and signed on deadline day for $6.2 million, the largest up-front bonus in MLB history -- and $200,000 more than the Pirates gave their top pick, Pedro Alvarez.

Alvarez has not signed his contract, as agent Scott Boras has claimed the deal was not struck until after the midnight Aug. 15 deadline. The players' union has filed a grievance against Major League Baseball, which will be heard Wednesday by arbitrator Shyam Das.

Shaken, but not stirred

The earthquake that rumbled beneath AT&T Park on Friday night registered 4.0 on the Richter scale. But it went unnoticed by most people in the ballpark, including the Pirates in the dugout and on the field.

"I didn't feel it," said left fielder Nyjer Morgan, who grew up in nearby San Jose and has experienced a few earthquakes.

Russell recalled experiencing a big shake in San Francisco during his playing career.

"It's a weird feeling," Russell said. "Things were swaying."

Around the horn

Shortstop Jack Wilson (bruised index finger) last night missed his fifth straight game. Wilson's finger remains swollen and he is unable to throw. ... Going into last night's game, Morgan had reached base in 11 straight starts.

Minor matters

Infielder Jim Negrych's .359 batting average was fifth best in the minor leagues this year. He also ranked fifth in on-base percentage (.438), ninth in hits (170) and 12th in doubles (41). Negrych, who played at Pitt, finished the season with Double-A Altoona. ... Class A Lynchburg's Jose De Los Santos was caught stealing 20 times, which tied him for most in the minors. Triple-A Indianapolis outfielder Andrew McCutchen was tied for third with 19. ... Indy's Jason Delaney drew 85 walks, ninth most in the minors. ... Only 11 pitchers threw more innings than Indy's Daniel McCutchen (1711/3 innings).

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