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Walker sent down, victim of new DL rule |

Walker sent down, victim of new DL rule

| Thursday, March 19, 2009 12:00 a.m

BRADENTON, Fla. – The Pirates cut five players Wednesday, including Pine-Richland product Neil Walker and promising outfield prospect Jose Tabata.

“I think I made a lot of positive impacts here,” said Walker. “I’m getting closer. I think I have made tremendous strides.”

Walker — along with pitchers Dave Davidson and Tom Gorzelanny — were optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. Tabata was optioned to Double-A Altoona. Pitcher Brian Slocum was reassigned to minor league camp.

Walker’s camp this season was actually cut shorter than last year because of a new Major League Baseball rule that says a player on a major-league roster who is injured after March 20 will be placed on the major-league disabled list.

Bucs impressed with Tabata

There’s a good chance Tabata — who was acquired from the New York Yankees this past July in the Xavier Nady trade — could rejoin the Pirates this season.

The 20-year old had an impressive spring, hitting .407 with five RBI in 11 games.

“If he shows us the things he showed us this spring on a consistent basis, I think it’s going to be sooner than later,” Huntington said. “But it’ll be up to him and how he progresses.

“Jose’s total body of work — it’s been an exciting three weeks. He’s played extremely well, but there are some signs that he lacks some development in the overall game.”

Duke solid in win

The Pirates defeated the Minnesota Twins, 4-3, Wednesday at McKechnie Field. Second baseman Anderson Machado knocked in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning when he ripped a single to right field.

Starting pitcher Zach Duke worked his longest outing of the spring when he allowed two runs and five hits – including two solo homers – in five innings.

“So far, the plan is going accordingly,” Duke said. “I haven’t hit too many big bumps along the way yet, but you never know what’ll happen next time.”

Snell back with team

Starting pitcher Ian Snell returned from the World Baseball Classic, where he played for Puerto Rico. Pirates manager John Russell said he will look to start Snell — who went 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA in two starts — on Sunday or Monday.

Injury news

Right fielder Eric Hinske was 0-for-2 with a walk and a strikeout in his first game since bruising his ribs on Feb. 26. … Outfielder Brandon Moss, who is recovering from a bruised thumb, is expected to play at Pirate City today. He has been out since March 7.

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