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Notebook: Maholm, Bradley among six players cut

Joe Rutter
| Saturday, March 13, 2004

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Paul Maholm got his first taste of the major-league environment. Bobby Bradley got a chance to show his injury problems might be finally behind him.

Those were two of the positives culled from the Pirates' decision to send the two former first-round draft picks to the minor-league camp Friday. They were among six players cut, as the Pirates trimmed their spring training roster to 57.

Maholm was re-assigned along with non-roster catcher Chris Fussell and non-roster catcher Ronny Paulino. Bradley was optioned to Class AA Altoona along with catching prospect Ryan Doumit. Left-handed pitcher Cory Stewart, acquired in October from the San Diego Padres to complete the Brian Giles trade, was optioned to Class AAA Nashville.

Maholm, 21, was the eighth overall pick in last year's draft. After making eight starts for short-season Williamsport last year, he is expected to start the season at Class A Lynchburg.

"It was a very good experience for him," Pirates general manager Dave Littlefield said. "I've gotten a lot of positive feedback from the staff about how he's handled himself, his professional approach and maturity and how he's performed on the field."

Bradley, 23, also was an eighth overall pick. But he is five years removed from the draft and hasn't pitched a full minor-league season because of elbow and shoulder problems. He missed the entire 2002 season because of "Tommy John" surgery, and he was limited to 13 starts last year because of right shoulder surgery.

"It's a big year for him," pitching coach Spin Williams said. "He has a good enough fastball and curveball to pitch in the big leagues. Obviously, he needs experience."

Bradley said his arm hasn't felt this good in four years. He will start the season at Class AA Altoona with an eye on joining the Pirates in the near future.

"I know I have the ability to pitch in the big leagues," Bradley said. "If I throw well, maybe I'll get there by the end of the year."

Doumit ready for Curve

Aside from a two-game stint at Altoona in 2001, the 23-year-old Doumit hasn't played above the Class A level. He is coming off his first injury-free season when he batted .275 with 11 homers and 77 RBI at Lynchburg.

Doumit will open the season at the higher level.

"There's a lot of upside there," Littlefield said. "When you get to the Double-A level, it becomes more challenging. A lot of times it's the fork in the road in professional baseball. We're anxious to see how the season goes for him."

Game report

Josh Fogg had a rough start in the Pirates' 5-0 loss to the Minnesota Twins. Fogg allowed eight hits and three runs (two earned) in four innings. He didn't have a strikeout or walk.

Shortstop Jack Wilson returned to the lineup after not playing since last Friday because of right shoulder tendinitis. He was 1 for 3 with a double and handled four grounders flawlessly in his five-inning stint.

"I felt great," Wilson said. "I was able to test my shoulder a few times, and I had no problem. I'm really surprised at how quickly it has healed in the last few days. The pain is all gone, and I feel 100 percent."

Second baseman Bobby Hill started for the second consecutive game and went the distance, experiencing no back problems that kept him out of the lineup for five days.

"I'm very encouraged because my back still feels good and loose," he said. "I'm actually a little surprised I feel quite this good. I think I'm back to normal now."

Out of the mix?

Left-hander Dave Williams pitched only one inning Thursday in a split-squad game against the Houston Astros. He has accumulated only two innings in 10 exhibition games, which would indicate he's no longer in the running for the fifth starter's job.

Littlefield said that's not necessarily the case.

"Nothing officially has been determined," he said. "He's certainly in contention. It was good to see him pitch a little better."

After giving up five runs in his first appearance, Williams pitched a scoreless inning against the Astros.

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