ShareThis Page

Pirates add Phelps to bench

Rob Biertempfel
| Saturday, June 23, 2007

ANAHEIM, Calif. - The Pirates hope that adding Josh Phelps will give them the power-hitting threat off the bench they have lacked all season.

Phelps, a first baseman and catcher, was claimed off waivers Friday and will be in uniform in time for today's game against the Los Angeles Angels.

"He's a big, rangy guy who has power," Pirates manager Jim Tracy said. "The presence of him on the bench is something we haven't had. He's a home run threat."

Phelps, 29, was designated for assignment Tuesday by the New York Yankees. Phelps hit .263 (21 for 80) with two doubles, two home runs and 12 RBI in 36 games this season.

In 2003, Phelps hit a career-high 20 homers while playing for the Toronto Blue Jays. In 2002, he batted .309 and finished sixth in balloting for American League rookie of the year.

"He has major league experience, and he's had some success," Pirates general manager Dave Littlefield said. "He'll give us a little more flexibility because it will allow us to use (Ryan) Doumit more freely."

Since he was the only backup to catcher Ronny Paulino, the Pirates have been careful when using Doumit as a pinch-hitter. Doumit has not been used as a designated hitter this season in interleague play.

Phelps' arrival also could be a boon for Nate McLouth, who often has been asked to pinch-hit in late-inning situations normally reserved for a slugger.

"If you are put in that situation, a lot of times you try to do too much because it's not really your game," McLouth said. "It's nice to have a guy like (Phelps). You've got to be able to put that fear in the other team, that on any pitch the guy can go deep."

With Phelps on the bench, McLouth will likely get more pinch-hit at-bats earlier in the game.

Phelps, a right-handed hitter, also will be used to give Adam LaRoche a break against tough lefty pitchers.

"We've been riding Adam LaRoche pretty good, virtually every day," Tracy said. "I'm not saying we're platooning Adam LaRoche, so don't misinterpret that. An opportunity to spell Adam LaRoche periodically and have a pretty interesting right-handed bat with power on the bench was something we were intrigued with."

Phelps fills the empty spot on the 40-man roster which was created Thursday when reliever Dan Kolb was designated for assignment.

When Phelps arrives, the Pirates will have to make a roster move. They reached the 25-man limit Thursday night when first baseman Brad Eldred was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis.

Eldred was in the Pirates' lineup yesterday as the DH, but he likely will be sent back to Indianapolis when Phelps arrives.

"I have no idea what will happen next," Eldred said before last night's game. "I just want to go out there and play. I can't think about anything else. That's not my job."

By the numbers

Josh Phelps has played for Toronto, Cleveland, Tampa Bay and the New York Yankees. Here's a look at his career statistics.

388 Games1283 AB181 Runs344 Hits69 2B4 3B59 HR224 RBI2 SB.268 BA.336 OBP.466 SLG

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.