06/12/07 8:20 PM ET
Notes: Kolb makes it back to Majors
Veteran reliever ready to pitch in Pirates' bullpen
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
Kolb, who was pitching for Triple-A Indianapolis, received word around midnight on Monday that the Pirates had purchased his contract. And after waiting for what he said was a frustratingly long time for his bags to make it off the plane on Tuesday, Kolb headed to PNC Park to make his return to the Major Leagues.
"I'm ready to start pitching again," said Kolb, who was signed as a Minor League free agent by the Pirates in February. "Down there is fun, but I'm really excited to be up here. Ground balls are still coming, everything feels good, and I'm sure I'll probably be in there tonight."
After starting the season at Indianapolis, Kolb suffered a hamstring injury that kept him out of action throughout most of May. He returned on May 31 and has pitched five games since then, allowing five earned runs in 5 2/3 innings.
The Pirates are hopeful that Kolb's experience can be an asset in a Pirates bullpen that Tracy called "underperforming" on Tuesday.
The 32-year-old right-hander has eight years of Major League experience out of the bullpen, much of which came as a closer. Kolb has 73 career saves, but has struggled at the Major League level since recording 39 saves for the Brewers in 2003. He will likely be used primarily in the sixth and seventh innings for the Pirates.
In order to make room for Kolb on the 40-man roster, the Pirates designated infielder Don Kelly for assignment.
Kelly is hopeful that his dream of playing for his hometown team is not over. He can either be traded, released, or if the Pirates want to keep him, he will have to go through waivers before he can report back to a Minor League team.
"You've been here for so long, but the team's struggling and has to make a move and it just happens to be you," said Kelly, trying to stay upbeat. "It's obviously frustrating because I don't know what's going to happen. It's frustrating to go through."
The Pittsburgh native earned a spot on the team after a strong Spring Training and because of his versatility. And though the club has to leave him unprotected on waivers, management is hopeful that Kelly hasn't seen his last days as a Pirate.
"You really hope that you don't lose the player," Tracy said. "What's intriguing about Don Kelly is that you can virtually play this guy any place. A player like that on a National League club is a valuable asset."
Torres' tendinitis: After undergoing an MRI on his right elbow on Monday, Pirates reliever Salomon Torres said he was encouraged by what the doctors told him was a "little higher than mild" case of tendinitis. No ligament damage was found.
"It's not severe, not mild, [but] a little in between," said Torres, who was placed on the disabled list on Sunday.
The Pittsburgh trainers are giving Torres medication to fight the inflammation, and Torres will go down to Bradenton, Fla., once he is cleared to start throwing again. He is eligible to come off the DL on June 25.
"I need to get the inflammation down first, start throwing maybe in the middle of next week and get the swelling down because there is a lot of stuff going down on there," said Torres, who had suffered three blown saves and two losses in the past two weeks.
Still waiting: Prior to Tuesday's game against the Rangers, Matt Capps still had not heard back from Major League Baseball regarding his suspension hearing.
MLB heard Capps' appeal last Friday in New York and was expected to making its ruling Monday or Tuesday, but has not informed the Pirates of its decision.
If any part of the suspension is upheld, the Pirates will likely use a closer-by-committee approach during Capps' absence. The two likely candidates to take the ball will be Damaso Marte and Jonah Bayliss.
Bayliss has experience closing games, having recorded 23 saves as the closer for the Triple-A Indianapolis club a year ago. However, the 26-year-old right-hander has a 7.16 ERA this season and has allowed 10 runs in his last 6 1/3 innings.
Marte has been lights-out against left-handers this season, allowing only a .118 batting average to them and will likely be called on if Tracy needs a left-handed reliever in a late-inning situation.
Earning praise: After impressing his manager on Sunday, infielder Jose Castillo earned his second straight start at shortstop in lieu of Jack Wilson.
"You'll see Jack much sooner than later, but when a player goes out there and performs like he did on Sunday, it would be very difficult to come into this clubhouse and sit down at your locker and see that your name's not in there," Tracy said.
Castillo had two hits and a walk in his start at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, including a two-run single that helped the Pirates get out of an early three-run hole. He also made two spectacular defensive plays, a day after the Pittsburgh defense had arguably its worst performance of the season.
Taking the field: Though he served as the team's designated hitter for three games in New York, Xavier Nady returned to the field on Tuesday for the first time since leaving the Pirates' game last Wednesday with tightness in his left hamstring.
Before convincing Tracy that he was healthy enough to make the start in the field, Nady did numerous running drills on the field, testing his ability to start and stop and change directions.
"What we definitely need to guard against is that we have only four extra guys on our bench, one of whom would be called on to catch if an injury occurred," Tracy said. "It would be very difficult in the second inning or a third inning of a game to have to take somebody out because of aggravating a leg injury, and he doesn't think he's in that position right now."
With the option of using Nady as the DH no longer available since the Pirates are back at home, the Pirates were hopeful of getting him back in the lineup for the consistent bat that he has provided lately. The right fielder has three home runs and eight RBIs in his last eight games and is hitting .302 in his last 15.
A Japanese reunion: The approximately 20 members of the Japanese media who followed Masumi Kuwata back to Pittsburgh weren't the only fans of his who made the trip to the city. PGA golfer Toru Taniguchi also made the trip to Pittsburgh, though seeing Kuwata was just an added bonus.
Taniguchi, who is playing in the U.S. Open golf championship this week at Oakmont Country Club, and Kuwata have been friends since the two were classmates at PL Gakuen High School in Osaka, Japan.
Kuwata used Monday's off-day to catch up with his childhood friend, and Taniguchi was expected to come to PNC Park on Tuesday evening after his practice round. The two usually meet up in Japan about once a year to play golf, to which Kuwata smiled and said: "He beats me every time."
Bucs bits: Triple-A Indianapolis first baseman Brad Eldred returned to the Indians starting lineup on Monday after missing a week with a strained oblique. The injury is not said to be serious, and Eldred doesn't expect to have any lingering effects from it. ... Nine of the Pirates' last 11 games have been decided by two runs or fewer. Pittsburgh has only won three of them.
On deck: The Pirates and Rangers will play the second game of their three-game set on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. ET at PNC Park. Pittsburgh right-hander Ian Snell (5-4, 2.91 ERA) will face Texas' Robinson Tejada (5-6, 6.47).
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.