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Pirates' plans for Cedeno unclear; he wants to stay

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Monday, Aug. 29, 2011

ST. LOUIS -- Shortstop Ronny Cedeno wants to stay with the Pirates next season.

"I'm happy here. I feel comfortable here," Cedeno said. "But I don't know what they're going to do with me. I don't know if they'll pick up my option, give me an extension or what. I can't control it. I'll play hard, and we'll see what kind of decision they make."

Cedeno, 28, last winter signed a $1.85 million, one-year contract to avoid arbitration. The deal includes a $3 million club option or a $200,000 buyout for 2012.

The option could have increased to as much as $5 million if he made up to 150 starts this season. But Cedeno, who spent three weeks on the disabled list with a concussion, cannot reach that level. He's made 101 starts with 29 games to go.

"We've still got two months left before we'll have to make a decision," general manager Neal Huntington said, noting the free-agent market doesn't open until after the World Series is over.

Would the Pirates have good options, either internally or externally, if they choose to cut ties with Cedeno?

"Probably both," Huntington said. "We're very pleased with Chase (d'Arnaud) in some areas, though he still has a way to go in others."

D'Arnaud, a rookie who plays shortstop and third base, is hitting .213 and has made seven errors in 27 games.

Other than potential free agents Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins, who both are out of the Pirates' price range, the shortstop market is bare. And unlike 15 years ago, when Derek Jeter, Nomar Garciaparra and Alex Rodriguez were breaking in, there doesn't seem to be a wave of high-impact shortstop talent on the horizon.

Cedeno is hitting .256 with two home runs and 30 RBI, and has a career-high 24 walks. Over his past 35 games, he is batting .298.

Among National League shortstops (minimum 350 at-bats), Cedeno ranks 12th with a .300 on-base percentage and 12th with a .644 OPS.

"I think I could do better," Cedeno said. "Sometimes, you go up and sometimes you go down. I've got to keep my mind strong and keep playing. That's it."

Manager Clint Hurdle believes Cedeno has taken some steps forward this season.

"We've got to figure out, is he the guy for the future or do we have to go find another?" Hurdle said. "We've all worked hard with Ronny, and he's been receptive to the challenges. But how much longer do you ask, 'Is there more there, or is this what we get• And if this is what we get, is it enough?' "

The Pirates have two months to reach a conclusion.

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