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Pirates ship off outfielder Diaz to Atlanta

| Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011

HOUSTON — The Pirates cleared room on the 40-man roster and cut salary by trading outfielder Matt Diaz to the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday for a player to be named later or cash.

Diaz, 33, signed with the Pirates as a free agent Dec. 14, 2010, after spending the previous five seasons with the Braves.

"At the end of the day this was a win-win opportunity for both sides, for obvious reasons," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "I got to speak with Matt personally this morning, and he's excited, and we're excited for him.

"He wishes he could have done better here."

Diaz batted .259 with no home runs and 19 RBI in 100 games this season.

He started for the Braves last night and had two hits in his first three at-bats.

The Pirates signed Diaz to a two-year, $4.25 million deal. The team wanted Diaz for his work against left-handed pitchers — he hit .335 against lefties with the Braves — and to platoon with Garrett Jones in right field and bring a veteran presence to a young clubhouse.

Diaz struggled the first couple months before his statistics picked up June.

With the emergence of Alex Presley in the outfield, the acquisition of Ryan Ludwick at the trade deadline and others such as Gorkys Hernandez waiting in Triple-A, the Pirates decided to part ways with Diaz.

"Matt's impact went well beyond his statistics, and we appreciate everything he did for the organization," general manager Neal Huntington said. "He is a terrific person, and he certainly gave us his best effort. We have attempted to place him in a better fit for him, and we wish him nothing but success."

Diaz is still owed $300,000 this season and $2 million next year.

The Pirates also traded John Bowker, who had been with Triple-A Indianapolis and was on the 40-man roster, to Philadelphia for a player to be named later or cash.

Tabata returns to lineup

Outfielder Jose Tabata, who sat out Tuesday's game with left wrist soreness, was back in the lineup last night. Tabata had part of the hamate bone removed from his right wrist while with the Yankees organization in 2007. Hurdle said the outfielder was relieved when tests showed no problems in the left wrist and the swelling went down with ice. "He felt real good at the end of (Tuesday) night and felt good (Wednesday) when I talked to him," Hurdle said.

Injury updates

First baseman Derrek Lee (left wrist fracture) hit live pitching yesterday. ... Reliever Evan Meek (right shoulder tendinitis) suffered a blown save with Triple-A Indianapolis on Tuesday, but Hurdle said his velocity (90-93 mph) was good for the second outing, and the breaking ball range was what they've seen in the past.

Bell to join State College

Second-round pick Josh Bell will join the short season State College Spikes for their final week of the season but won't play. Huntington said the outfielder will be there to get a feel for the environment.

McCutchen on the 20-20 mark

Andrew McCutchen became the eighth player in Pirates history — the first since Nate McLouth in 2008 — to hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases in a season when he homered in the ninth inning Tuesday.

"It's good to be able to have that. It's definitely a stepping stone for me," McCutchen said. "Still got a lot of ball to play, so I'm still going to continue to go out there and play hard and try to finish up strong."

Said Hurdle: "It's a special feat. It's been a special feat in any era. It speaks to his skill set, a young player in his second full season. It's an accomplishment, but to put up numbers, you have to play every day, and that's something (McCutchen) does for us. ... He's got great focus and great determination."

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