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Pirates keep McLouth, Capps

Gerut headed for Indianapolis, Duckworth re-assigned
March 31, 2006
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Manager Jim Tracy had good news for a couple of players Friday, but he had bad news for a couple others.

The good news went to outfielder Nate McLouth and pitcher Matt Capps. The bad news went to outfielder Jody Gerut and pitcher Brandon Duckworth, two of several players who Tracy has had to give bad news to in the past few days.

The news to McLouth and Capps: They made the Pirates. The news to Gerut and Duckworth: They didn't make the team.

It was a bittersweet day for Tracy.

"For in the case of a few of them -- several of them -- they didn't do anything to not make the team," he said. "It's just what I've been talking to you guys about since (Thursday) is when you team-build, you team-build for a season, not for Opening Day."

In trying to put a team together for 162 games, Tracy said he looked at whether he had resources to reach for when bumps in the season hit a ballclub. He's been mindful of that fact as he's made decisions.

"You have to be," Tracy said. "Or you get burnt. Badly."

The 24-year-old McLouth can exhale now. He'd been holding his breath, figuratively, as he waited to find out if he'd made the team. He found out that he had before the Pirates lost to the Twins, 5-3, on Friday.

"I guess it was a little bit of a relief along with excitement," he said, his face aglow. "It's the first time I've made a team out of Spring Training. More excitement than anything."

McLouth, who immediately called his mother and girlfriend, said he never felt he had a roster spot locked up. He looked around the Pirates clubhouse and saw plenty of veterans in competition for jobs on the Major League club.

"As it is every year, there's more people than there are spots," he said. "So it happened this year that there were a lot of good players for those spots, and until I heard the words, I was never sure."

McLouth's tough, hustling play caught Tracy's eye early in Spring Training, and as Opening Day neared, McLouth continued to play like somebody who deserved to make the team.

Tracy made it clear that McLouth, indeed, had earned his spot.

"We feel good about some of the decisions that we've made that involve people that have earned the right to be strongly considered," Tracy said. "They haven't been given anything. ... There's nothing that's been given to any of them."

The Pirates optioned Gerut, who joined the team last summer following a trade with the Cubs, to Triple-A Indianapolis. He went 10-for-22 this spring with a pair of walks.

Besides the Gerut move, the Pirates re-assigned Duckworth, who'd come to camp as a non-roster invitee.

Those moves leave the club at 27 players.

Justice B. Hill is a reporter for