The Pittsburgh Pirates know all about bad times after failing to field a winning team since 1992, but few weeks in their history have been as bad or bizarre as this one.
Just when it seemed it couldn’t get any worse for a franchise that is setting itself up for a record-extending 18th consecutive losing season, it did.
Hours after GM Neal Huntington adamantly insisted top prospect Pedro Alvarez wasn’t ready for the majors, someone in the organization ordered him called up. Alvarez went hitless in his first 10 at-bats as the Pirates ran one of their longest losing streaks in a half-century to 13 games.
Team president Frank Coonelly was forced to reveal that the contracts of Huntington and manager John Russell were secretly extended during the offseason. The team never disclosed the deals because it apparently feared fan backlash.
And for an odd twist, the Pirates fired one of their racing pierogi mascots because he criticized the extensions on his Facebook page.
Dice-K ready to return
Boston Red Sox right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka is expected to come off the disabled list and start against the Colorado Rockies on Thursday night.
Matsuzaka was scratched just before the first pitch of his scheduled start last Saturday against Philadelphia and later placed on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained forearm after feeling discomfort warming up.
Matsuzaka, who started the season on the DL because of a neck strain, is 5-2 with a 4.59 ERA.
Ankiel suffers setback
Royals center fielder Rick Ankiel has had a setback during his minor league rehab assignment and returned to Kansas City for treatment on his right quadriceps.
Royals manager Ned Yost said Ankiel, who has been on the 15-day disabled list since May 4, “tweaked his quad” at Triple-A Omaha this week.
Padilla called up
The Los Angeles Dodgers placed right-hander Carlos Monasterios on the 15-day disabled list with injuries to fingers on his pitching hand.
Vicente Padilla was activated before starting Saturday’s game against the Red Sox.
Padilla gave up four runs and five hits in 5
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