Pittsburgh Pirates Report

The Pirates won't be going to any arbitration hearings this winter. <br><br>The Pirates agreed to a one-year, $1.5 million contract with third baseman/outfielder Rob Mackowiak.

He was the last unsigned player of the nine Pirates eligible for arbitration and was scheduled to have a hearing Feb. 10 in Tampa, Fla.

"It's a good feeling to get this done, put it behind me and get ready for spring training," said Mackowiak, who settled during the first day he joined the Pirates' winter caravan.

"I don't think either side wanted to go to a hearing. We were both reasonable and got something worked out. I'm happy about that."

Mackowiak can earn an additional $90,000 in performance bonuses. He had been seeking $1.8 million through arbitration, and the Pirates were offering $1.35 million.

Mackowiak, 28, hit .246 with 17 homers and 75 RBIs in 155 games last season. However, 11 of his 17 homers came during the first two months of the season.

"I felt I've always kept myself in good shape, but I realized late last season that I have to work even harder to stay in top condition," Mackowiak said. "I really faded in the second half last season, and I've been working this winter to make sure that doesn't happen again."

Of the other eight players eligible for arbitration, the Pirates signed right-hander Salomon Torres and shortstop Jack Wilson to two-year contracts, right-handed pitchers Josh Fogg, Brian Meadows and Kip Wells, first basemen/outfielders Daryle Ward and Craig Wilson to one-year contracts and released infielder Abraham Nunez.

Team Notes: 

RHP John Van Benschoten, considered one of the Pirates' top prospects, will miss the entire season after undergoing surgery to repair torn posterior labrum cartilage in his pitching shoulder.

Van Benschoten made his major league debut with the Pirates last season, going 1-3 with a 6.91 ERA in six games, five starts. He did not pitch during the final two weeks of the season because of shoulder fatigue.

Van Benschoten should be able to pitch in the Florida Instructional League, which begins in September.

Van Benschoten decided to try rest and rehabilitation to cure his shoulder problem rather than surgery. However, that course of action didn't work as Van Benschoten began feeling a pinching sensation in his shoulder once he began throwing in mid-January.

Van Benschoten also had arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder in November. He injured that arm when he awkwardly got out of a hotel bed last season while pitching for Triple-A Nashville.

Van Benschoten was ranked as the Pirates' top prospect by Baseball America magazine before the previous two seasons but fell to No. 3 this year after going 4-11 with a 4.72 ERA in 23 starts for Nashville in 2004 and then struggling at the major league level.

RHP Rick White, who made his major league debut with the Pirates in 1994, has returned to the organization. He was signed to a minor league contract with a non-roster invitation to spring training.

White, 36, was 5-5 with one save and a 5.29 ERA in 59 relief appearances with Cleveland last season. The Indians became the eighth team of his nine-year career. He also has played for the Pirates (1994-95), Tampa Bay (1998-2000), New York Mets (2000-01), Colorado (2002), St. Louis (2002), Chicago White Sox (2003) and Houston (2003).

White has a 33-45 career record with 13 saves and a 4.30 ERA in 449 games, 18 starts. Six of those saves came with the Pirates during his rookie season in '94.

OF Ben Grieve, a former AL Rookie of the Year, was signed to a minor league contract and was invited to spring training.

Roster Report:

ARRIVALS: OF Ben Grieve (free agent from Cubs), RHP Kirk Bullinger (from Houston as a minor league free agent), INF/OF Howie Clark (from Toronto as a minor league free agent), INF/OF Cesar Crespo (from Boston as a minor league free agent), OF Ben Grieve (from Chicago Cubs as a minor league free agent), 3B Jose Leon (from Baltimore as a minor league free agent), 1B Damon Minor (from San Francisco as a minor league free agent), RF Matt Lawton (from Cleveland in a trade), LHP Mark Redman (from Oakland in a trade), RHP Brian Reith (from Cincinnati as a minor league free agent), RHP Todd Ritchie (from Tampa Bay as a minor league free agent), RHP Joe Roa (from Minnesota as a minor league free agent), C Benito Santiago (from Kansas City in a trade), RHP Rick White (from Cleveland as a minor league free agent).

DEPARTURES: OF Tony Alvarez (to the Chicago White Sox as a free agent after being released), RHP Brian Boehringer (to Colorado as a free agent after his $3 million option for 2005 was bought out for $300,000), LHP Frank Brooks (to Los Angeles on a waiver claim), OF J.J. Davis (to Washington in a trade), C Jason Kendall (to Oakland in a trade), INF Abraham Nunez (to St. Louis as a free agent after being released), LHP Arthur Rhodes (to Cleveland in a trade).

BIGGEST NEEDS: The Pirates have filled most of their holes but would like to add starting pitching depth, a low-priced veteran reliever and a first baseman/outfielder who hits from the right side.

MEDICAL WATCH: LHP Sean Burnett (reconstructive left elbow surgery, expected to be out until August), CF Tike Redman (surgery to remove a cyst from near his eyes, expected to be ready for the start of spring training), RHP John Van Benschoten (arthroscopic surgery on left and right shoulders, will miss the season), RHP Kip Wells (carpel tunnel release surgery on his right middle finger, expected to be ready for the start of spring training), SS Jack Wilson (appendectomy surgery, expected to be ready for the start of spring training).

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