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Pirates' Negrych rounds into playing shape

| Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pirates prospect Jim Negrych packed on 45 pounds over the winter, but he still can fit into the same uniform he wore last summer at Double-A Altoona.

Negrych weighs 190 pounds, about the same as he did a year ago. He lost 45 pounds last fall battling two infections after having emergency abdominal surgery.

Negrych, who was drafted in 2006 out of Pitt, played the final three innings Tuesday in the Pirates' 4-1 loss against the Minnesota Twins. He filled in at third base and went 0 for 1.

"It took awhile to get back in game shape," Negrych said. "Now, I try not to think about it. I just go out and play."

Negrych was injured during a game July 27 when he collided with shortstop Brian Friday. He had season-ending surgery in Altoona to stop bleeding in his lower right abdomen.

"They fed me right after the surgery," Negrych said. "They were supposed to wait three or four days. The food got stuck in my stomach and turned into an infection. "

The infection cleared after Negrych was treated at Allegheny General Hospital, North Side. But when he contracted a second infection, his weight plunged to 145 pounds.

Negrych spent the first weekend of college football season laid up in a hospital in his native Buffalo, N.Y., watching the Pitt game on TV. Finally, he got healthy.

"I hit the weight room, watched what I ate for a long time and wound up putting all 45 pounds back on — and most of it is muscle," Negrych said. "I'm leaner and more athletic than I was before. Now, it's about getting back to baseball, getting in the batter's box and doing what I know I can do."

Negrych has a smooth swing and a .307 batting average in four minor-league seasons. Before he reports to Altoona to begin the regular season, Negrych will go with the Pirates on Friday to Philadelphia for two exhibition games against the Phillies.

"Sooner rather than later, hopefully, I'll get my opportunity to come back to Pittsburgh and play," Negrych said. "If I stay healthy, I can be as good as anybody. I've got to stay on the field for 140 games, and everything will work out."

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