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Pirates

Notebook: Ward headed to Nashville for rehab

Joe Rutter
| Monday, July 19, 2004

Daryle Ward is ready to take the next step toward reclaiming his starting first baseman's job.

The Pirates plan to send Ward, who has been on the disabled list since June 26 with a sprained ligament in his right thumb, to Class AAA Nashville for an injury rehabilitation assignment. Ward could join Nashville as early as today.

Ward has been taking batting practice since Thursday while wearing a protective brace.

"I'm getting anxious to get out there and play," he said.

Before his injury, Ward was batting .276 with 10 home runs and 33 RBI. Since his trip to the disabled list, the Pirates haven't gotten much production at the position from Randall Simon, who is batting .200 with one homer and 10 RBI.

Ward has not experienced any pain while taking batting practice, but he has been cautious about bending his thumb backwards.

"I injured the same hand this spring, so I want to make sure I can still swing the bat well," he said. "I could always swing well in batting practice, but I could always tell when I had to take hacks in the game. It's been going really well, though. I'm itching to get going. It's tough to watch the game and know you have no chance of getting in."

Ward, part two

Ward posted a picture of his 10-month-old son, Jaxon, on the clubhouse bulletin board after Saturday's game and included an inspirational message for his teammates.

When Jaxon Ward was born, he had iron deficiency and malnutrition because of a knot in his umbilical cord that existed for about his final three months in the womb.

"He's been going back and forth from the hospital," Ward said. "My wife called (Saturday) and told me he was doing real well. The doctors don't see any more problems with him. I thought that was great and was excited about that."

Sixth sense

Tike Redman batted in the sixth spot of the order for his seventh consecutive start yesterday, a trend that manager Lloyd McClendon plans to continue.

In his first six starts, Redman batted .296 (8 for 27) with two runs scored and five RBI. As the seventh hitter, Redman batted .273 in 20 starts.

McClendon made the switch because it gives the Pirates speed higher in the lineup, essentially a second leadoff hitter for the bottom half.

"I like where he fits into our lineup right now," McClendon said. "It gives him an opportunity to run a little bit more. He's a good contact hitter and he's liable to drive in some runs."

McClendon doubts Redman will return to the leadoff spot this year except on the rare days when catcher Jason Kendall doesn't start.

Rift, what rift?

Jack Wilson and Lloyd McClendon might not agree on the amount of weight the All-Star shortstop has lost since the beginning of the season. That doesn't mean a rift exists between the two.

McClendon laughed at suggestions he has a problem with Wilson, whom he brought to the majors out of the Class AA ranks in 2001.

"That's the furthest thing from the truth," he said. "Just like I didn't like (Chad) Hermansen. Jack is one of my favorite players. I think it's comical."

The dispute began when Wilson said he was tired from his trip to the All-Star Game, which came amid claims his weight has dropped from 197 pounds to 180. McClendon's charts show Wilson has gone from 191 pounds to 184.

"Do the math," McClendon said. "He never weighed 195 or 197."

Extra bases

Left-handed reliever Mike Johnston (left elbow inflammation) had a rough outing in his second injury rehab appearance at Nashville. He gave up two runs, one hit and three walks in two-thirds of an inning Saturday night. Of his 24 pitches, only eight were strikes. Johnston is scheduled to make another appearance either Monday or Tuesday. ... Catcher Humberto Cota (strained left oblique) is progressing in his batting practice and a decision on an upcoming rehab assignment could be made later in the week. ... Nashville pitcher Nelson Figueroa was activated from the disabled list after missing a week with a right ankle sprain. To make room for Figueroa on the roster, Nashville released reliever Hector Almonte, who was 1-1 with a 7.74 ERA in 29 games.

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