Notes: Armas to start on Wednesday
Righty will get another chance to take No. 5 spot in rotation
PITTSBURGH -- Before making his start last Wednesday, Tony Armas spoke gratefully about the opportunity to be given a second chance. He wanted a second chance to prove to the organization -- and to himself -- that the way things started for him this season weren't going to be the way things ended.
Well, now he'll get a third.
Pirates manager Jim Tracy announced on Friday that Armas will make the start for the team next Wednesday in Arizona as the fifth man in the rotation. Armas' future among the starting five had been in jeopardy because of the Pirates' recent trade for starter Matt Morris, who was going to take a spot away from either Armas or Shane Youman.
But the right-hander solidified his spot in the rotation -- at least for two more starts -- with the 6 1/3-inning, one-run performance he showcased earlier in the week, which followed a two-and-a-half month stint in the bullpen.
"He didn't just put his hands up and say, 'I quit,'" Tracy said, lauding Armas' ability to bounce back from a disastrous first three months of the season. "He continued to work very, very hard at it, and that's who the person is. That's what Tony Armas is all about. He deserves to take this start on Wednesday."
Youman isn't out of a spot just yet. Though his turn in the rotation will be skipped next week, the rookie left-hander is scheduled to start one game of a doubleheader on Aug. 13. The other game of the doubleheader will be started by Armas.
"For a young guy like Shane to be able to take a little bit of a break here, and get back to work again, that's not going to hurt him," Tracy said. "Actually, it'll probably help him. We're not taking anything away from anybody. We're trying to incorporate the both of them as best we can."
Because there will now be 11 days in between starts, Youman may be used out of the bullpen once or twice early next week if necessary. How Armas and Youman fare over their next starts will likely determine which one will remain in the rotation after that twin bill again the Giants in mid-August.
Nady healing: Tracy held right fielder Xavier Nady out of the starting lineup again on Friday, preferring to remain cautious with Nady's lingering left hamstring, which the outfielder strained during Tuesday's game.
"Even if he is OK and ready to go, one more day is not going to hurt the situation, especially when you're dealing with a hamstring," Tracy said. "You just want to feel comfortable knowing that you gave him as much time possible to get him back to the point where he wants to be."
Nady took batting practice and participated in running drills before Friday's game, and will once again be available to pinch hit if necessary.
Another try at Wilson? Major League Baseball announced on Friday that Tigers infielder Neifi Perez has now received an 80-game suspension for testing positive for stimulants for the third time under the MLB program. Perez was nearing the end of a 25-game suspension and would have been eligible to return to Detroit this weekend. However, Perez will now miss the remainder of the season.
So how does this affect the Bucs? Well, without Perez, the Tigers may rekindle their talks with the Pirates to try and acquire Jack Wilson, who would likely be able to pass through waivers because of his large contract. Without Perez, the Tigers lack the infield depth that they covet for a postseason run. Trading for Wilson could alleviate that issue.
African-American Heritage Weekend hits home: As a part of the Pirates' annual African-American Heritage Weekend, the Pirates organization hosted a luncheon on Friday with Hall of Famer Joe Morgan as the keynote speaker. Youman said that since first hearing about the luncheon weeks ago, he made it a priority to be there.
"The biggest thing at this time is trying to get more young black men to start playing baseball. It was important to me on a personal basis," Youman said. "I've got to get to a point in my career where I can start doing that. It's always been an idea of mine. I've just got to have resources to be able to do it, and when I do, now I know people."
Youman said he planned to take things that he had learned at the luncheon and use the contacts that he had made as he strives to be an activist in getting more African-American children interested in baseball. Youman said his personal goal is to eventually be able to work with African-American families in his hometown of New Iberia, La., to promote the sport of baseball.
Bullpen situation: Because Damaso Marte has pitched five times in the last eight days, Tracy said he hopes to have the luxury of giving his dominant left-handed reliever a day off on Friday. Also, with Salomon Torres having pitched two innings on Thursday and Masumi Kuwata needing 32 pitches in his inning of work on Thursday, the availability of both out of the bullpen was questionable prior to Friday's game.
Quotable: "There are a lot of good people in the [Pirates] organization, and I liked a lot of the players. I root for the players that I liked, just not against us. At some point, if you've been around long enough, you get familiar with so many players, you can't root for all of them. If you root for all of them they negate each other." -- Reds interim manager Pete Mackanin, who is managing his first game at PNC Park since serving as the Pirates' interim manager for 26 games back in 2005
On deck: Morris (7-7, 4.35 ERA) will make his Pirates debut in the second game of Pittsburgh's three-game set against the Reds on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. ET at PNC Park. Lefty Bobby Livingston (2-2, 4.64 ERA) will take the mound for Cincinnati.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.