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Pirates plan to be active in trade talks

Rob Biertempfel
| Sunday, July 19, 2009

Regardless of whether or not infielders Freddy Sanchez and Jack Wilson get contract extensions, the Pirates will be active on the trade market up to and beyond the July 31 non-waiver deadline.

"We're going to be at the center of most rumors," general manager Neal Huntington said. "I don't know if we're sellers, per se. We're trying to get better as an organization."

Huntington said the team must continue to balance its long-term and short-term goals.

"Teams get in a lot of trouble when they inaccurately evaluate themselves," Huntington said. "We're moving in the right direction. Would we like more wins on the board• Absolutely. If we had more wins on the board, if we were right in the middle of things, then it changes your outlook.

"But where we are right now, the guys we've got limited contractual control over, do we benefit more as an organization by keeping them here, trading them at all costs or somewhere in between• I think the answer lies somewhere in between."

No Sano decision yet

Contrary to a report Saturday by Sports Illustrated, Major League Baseball has not yet ruled on its investigation into the age of Dominican prospect Miguel Sano.

The Pirates and other teams were informed Friday by MLB that the query will not be completed until at least the middle of next week. The Pirates are the only club known to have made a contract offer to Sano, who some scouts consider to be one of the best Latin American prospects in years.

If MLB finds Sano is not at least 16 years old, he is not eligible to be signed.

Meek's milestone

Evan Meek's big-league career was barely a week old when he picked up his first defeat in the 2008 home opener. Fifteen months later, the right-handed reliever finally notched his first victory.

Meek was the winning pitcher Friday, when the Pirates edged the Giants 2-1 in 14 innings.

d'Arnaud d'amaged

Class A Lynchburg shortstop Chase d'Arnaud will be in a cast for four weeks and miss the rest of the season due to sprained ligaments in his left thumb. He was injured Wednesday while trying to make a diving stop in the hole.

A fourth-round pick in 2008, d'Arnaud hit .279 with two homers and 15 RBI in 19 games for Lynchburg. He began the year at low-A West Virginia and batted .291 with three homers and 31 RBI.

First baseman Erik Huber was promoted to Lynchburg to fill d'Arnaud's spot. First baseman Kyle Morgan was moved up from State College to West Virginia.

Milledge 'very close' to majors

Outfielder Lastings Milledge had his third straight multi-hit game for Triple-A Indianapolis on Friday, continuing his torrid start with his new organization. For the season, Milledge is batting .296 with a .706 OPS at Triple-A.

"(It's about) having a plan," Milledge said. "Our hitting coach always says hitting is 80 percent mental, so if you have a plan, you can have the 80 percent beat, and then it just comes down to executing for the other 20 percent."

Friday afternoon, Huntington and manager John Russell discussed Milledge's progress during a closed-door meeting.

"It wasn't happening for him (with Washington), and we've got to understand the reasons why," Huntington said. "We're in the middle of doing that. The early returns have been great. I don't want to set a time frame where, if he doesn't get here by date X, we're disappointed."

Still, management does expect to see Milledge in a Pirates uniform before this season is over.

"He's getting very close," Russell said.

Jones breaks out

On Friday, Garrett Jones became the second player in major-league history to hit a walkoff homer in the 14th inning or later after homering in the first inning of the same game.

Stuck behind Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer, Jones never had much chance to make an impact with the Minnesota Twins. After spending five years at Triple-A, Jones last winter signed with the Pirates as a minor-league free agent.

It has worked out perfectly for Jones and the Pirates.

"He's finally getting an opportunity, and so far he's taking advantage of it," Russell said. "There's no reason to say he's not for real. The drive to continue to do what he did shows he's a very strong-minded player."

Around the horn

Indianapolis put 18 runners on base without hits Friday — 12 walks and six hit-by-pitches — against Pawtucket. ... Freddy Sanchez's take on what the Pirates must do better in the second half of the season: "Offensively, we've got to be more consistent. Our pitchers have done a great job all year."

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