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Cedeno cements shortstop job for 2011

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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.

Sunday, Sept. 12, 2010

CINCINNATI — At midseason, Ronny Cedeno's status as the Pirates' starting shortstop was very much in doubt.

That almost certainly will not be the case when the team opens spring training next year. In the past 11 weeks, Cedeno has performed well and cemented his role.

"We'll see where we're at in the offseason, but I see no reason why Ronny Cedeno shouldn't be our shortstop (in 2011)," manager John Russell said Saturday.

Cedeno, who's making $1.125 million this season, can't become a free agent until 2012.

"We'll see what happens," he said.

In mid-June, Cedeno was benched for being inconsistent on the field and at the plate. Through Friday, he had hit safely in seven of his previous 10 games, and he had an extra-base hit in six of his previous nine games. Among NL shortstops with at least 400 plate appearances, Cedeno ranks 10th with a .370 slugging percentage.

"Ronny's made a pretty good statement," Russell said. "He's still got some things to accomplish as far as the way he plays, but he's made great strides in a lot of areas."

Russell backs Rose

To mark the 25th anniversary of him becoming the career hits leader, the Reds honored Pete Rose before last night's game at Great American Ball Park. Rose got his landmark 4,192nd hit, moving him past Ty Cobb on baseball's all-time list, on Sept. 11, 1985.

The Reds had to get special permission from Major League Baseball to fete Rose, 69, who 21 years ago was banned from baseball for betting on games. Russell met Rose in 1983 in Philadelphia Phillies spring training; he said Rose should be in the Hall of Fame.

"I've always been a believer that he should be," Russell said. "I'm not against the rule; gambling on baseball is about as wrong as you can get. But what he did on the field is phenomenal. He definitely should be considered for the Hall of Fame."

Offseason changes

At the Pirates' final minicamp this offseason, there will be more emphasis on conditioning drills and less on bullpen sessions.

"It will be more of a conditioning-type camp," Russell said. "We probably won't start guys off the mound so quickly. There might be some light sides, but we're not going to make it so much of a pitching-catching type camp as we have in the past."

Although the dates have not been set, there will be three offseason camps, one each in November, December and January. Before setting the camps' agenda, Russell and GM Neal Huntington huddled with conditioning coordinator Frank Velasquez and pitching coach Ray Searge.

"We talked to a lot of the pitchers about when they start throwing their sides (over the winter)," Russell said. "It seemed like we were pushing the envelope a bit. We'd rather do it a little different this year."

This January, more than 40 pitchers and position players attended the voluntary, four-day camp at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla. Russell expects a bigger turnout this year.

Unfriendly fire

Brandon Moss has no happy memories of facing lefty Aroldis Chapman in Triple-A this summer. Chapman, who signed with the Reds after defecting from Cuba, has a fastball that has been clocked at 103 mph.

"The first time I faced him, he threw 98 mph — and the ball went behind me," Moss said, grinning. "After that, I was done for that at-bat. I struck out. Next at-bat against him, I struck out. The one after that, I struck out."

Moss eventually made contact and put the ball in play against Chapman.

"The last time I faced him, I hit a grounder to second base," Moss said. "It was a moral victory."

Triple-A Louisville sometimes used lefty Daniel Ray Herrera, whose fastball tops out only in the mid-80s, as a setup for Chapman.

"That really throws you off," Moss said.

Additional Information:

Pirates game day

at Reds

1:10 p.m. today, Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati

TV/radio: FSN/WPGB-FM (104.7), Pirates Radio Network, XM Channel 184

Pitchers: LHP Brian Burres (3-3, 5.75) will start for the Pirates. RHP Johnny Cueto (12-5, 3.45) will start for Cincinnati.

Notable: Entering Saturday, Chris Snyder ranked fourth among NL catchers with 14 homers, two shy of his career high. He had gone deep four times since being traded to the Pirates on July 31.

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