The Inside Pitch - The Pirates

Actor Michael "Batman" Keaton, a Pittsburgh native, was ripping the Pirates for their penny-pinching on opening day. By the way Keaton was there to throw out the first place for the Pirates. I never thought I would be rooting for the Joker and the Penguin. I doubt if "Batman Returns" to Pittsburgh, or at least he won't be throwing out any more first pitches.

  The Redbirds play the Pirates for the first time this season as they open a 3-game series at PNC Park tonight. The two NL Central rivals will meet 15 times this year. The Cards are slated to play six of their next nine games versus the Bucs. St. Louis went 12-4 vs. the Pirates in 2005, including a 5-1 mark at PNC Park. The St. Louis Cardinals are 24-9 vs. the Bucs since the start of the 2004 season and have won 19 of their last 23 games with the Pirates. The Cardinals trail the all-time series, 1,038-1,129.



Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday with a strained left hamstring. Doumit suffered the injury last Tuesday and has missed the past five games, making him eligible to return April 27.

   Catcher Ronny Paulino was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis and will
serve as Humberto Cota's backup.

   The Pirates originally thought Doumit would only miss a game or two, but the hamstring was slow to heal. Thus, they decided Sunday to disable him.

   "The best thing to do is give him some time to heal and get him back to
where he is completely functional," Pirates manager Jim Tracy said. "I'd
rather have the whole Ryan Doumit out there instead of parts of him. It didn't make sense to push it and get into a situation where he blows the hamstring out and misses a month."

   Doumit is hitting .200 with two homers and four RBIs in six games.

   Cota will continue to see a majority of action behind the plate. It was generally believed throughout the offseason and most of spring training that Doumit would be the No. 1 catcher, but Cota moved ahead of him.

   "Cota has handled himself very well behind the plate," Tracy said. "Catcher is an important position. You've got to play defense at that position, and it has nothing to do with your batting average. Nothing."

   REPLAY: Right-hander Ian Snell had another rough outing Sunday as the
Pirates lost 7-3 to the Cubs. Snell allowed six runs and six hits in five innings as he fell to 0-1 with a 9.60 ERA in three starts this season.

   Snell gave up three runs in the first inning, then settled down to retire 12 of 13 batters before giving up three more runs in the sixth when he was lifted during a four-run inning that saw the Cubs push their lead to 7-0.

Pirates starters have a 7.25 ERA in 14 games this season and five times have given up more runs than innings pitched in a game.

   --3B Joe Randa was out of the lineup for the third time in five games in Sunday's 7-3 loss to the Cubs as Freddy Sanchez started in his place. Randa missed back-to-back games Wednesday and Thursday because of a strained lower abdomen, and manager Jim Tracy felt he could use one more day off to heal. Randa pinch-hit in the ninth inning Sunday and made the final out on a flyball to center.
   --LHP Sean Burnett is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in two starts at Triple-A
Indianapolis, but GM Dave Littlefield said Sunday Burnett is not being
considered for a call-up to bolster a wobbly starting rotation. Burnett
missed all of last season after undergoing reconstructive elbow and
arthroscopic shoulder surgeries, and the Pirates believe he needs time to
build up more arm strength in the minor leagues.
   --1B Sean Casey was placed on the disabled list Saturday with two fractures in his lower left back. Though Casey will not need surgery, he is expected to miss six to eight weeks. Casey was injured last Friday night when Cubs RF John Mabry collided with him on a play at first base. Casey was hitting .313 with two homers and five RBIs in nine games.
   --1B/OF Craig Wilson becomes the everyday first baseman with 1B Sean
Casey (two fractures in lower left back) out until at least early June.
Wilson hit his team-high sixth home run Sunday and has five homers in his
last 20 at bats.
   --INF/OF Mike Edwards made his Pirates debut Sunday and singled as a pinch hitter. Edwards' contract was purchased from Triple-A Indianapolis on Saturday when 1B Sean Casey was placed on the 15-day disabled list with two fractures in his lower left back. Edwards will be used primarily as a pinch hitter.

   BY THE NUMBERS: 18 -- Home runs the Pirates and Los Angeles Dodgers combined for in the four-game series that opened the home schedule, the most in any series at PNC Park since it opened in 2001.

   QUOTE TO NOTE: "I fear they will take advantage of the goodwill of the people who continue to show up. For my money, that's disrespectful. At some point, you either have to write the check or do something and not assume, well, we're OK." -- actor Michael Keaton, a Pittsburgh native, ripping the Pirates for their penny-pinching ways before throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at their home opener.

MY TAKE: I'm not saying there is no substance to Keaton's remark, but making them on opening day, when you have the honor of throwing out the first pitch, isn't appropriate as far as I'm concern or to put it in his own words, "disrespectful."


   RHP Kip Wells (arterial surgery) hopes to return by July.
   1B Sean Casey (two fractures on lower back) is out six to eight weeks.
   C Ryan Doumit (strained hamstring) is on the 15-day disabled list.
   3B Joe Randa (strained abdomen) is day-to-day.


Coming Up

Mon., April 17 at Pirates: Jason Marquis (2-0, 3.97) vs. Paul Maholm (0-1, 7.71) 6:05 p.m.*

Tues., April 18 at Pirates: Jeff Suppan (0-1, 4.09) vs. Oliver Perez (0-2, 8.10) 6:05 p.m.*

Wed., April 19 at Pirates: Chris Carpenter (1-0, 3.27+) vs. Victor Santos (1-1, 4.66+) 11:35 p.m.*

Thur., April 29: OPEN DATE

Times listed are Central...All games broadcast on KTRS Radio

# WB11-TV * Fox Sports-Net/Midwest + FOX Network % ESPN @ESPN2

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