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11/18 From 1960: Rincon-Giles; Boss Ben; Clint, Josh Honored; Russ To Jays; Jay, Gonzo All-Rookie; Rosters Get Shuffled; '97 Expansion Draft; HBD JT & Mark

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  • 1965 – RHP Mark Petkovsek was born in Beaumont, Texas. A 1987 first-round pick of the Texas Rangers in 1987, he came to the Bucs as a free agent in 1992. He spent a year at Indianapolis, then got a shot at the big club in 1993. Petko went 3-0 in 26 outings from the pen (he had been used as a starter prior to the call-up) but posted a 6.96 ERA/1.608 WHIP and was released after the year. Petkovsek came back with the St. Louis Cards in ‘95 and tossed through the 2001 campaign, closing out his career where it began in Texas. 
  • 1988 – It was the last day to set the roster before the minor league draft, and the Pirates filled their 40-man list to the brim by adding minor league pitchers Stan Belinda, Brett Gideon, Willie Smith & Mike Walker, OF’s Moise Alou & Jeff Cook and 3B Jeff King. Then they released IF Al Pedrique & RHP Dave Johnson and sent RHP Vicente Palacios, who had August rotator cuff surgery, to AAA Buffalo. Also vacating the roster were recently declared free agents RHP Bob Walk, OF Gary Redus and LHP Dave LaPoint. Additionally, the club named Cam Bonifay as the Director of Scouting; in five years, he would end up as General Manager. 
JT – 2019 Panini Leather & Lumber
  • 1991 – RHP Jameson Taillon was born in Lakeland, Florida. The high school righty was the second pick of the 2010 draft behind Bryce Harper after the Pirates FO debated on whether to select him or Manny Machado. JT zoomed through the minors and was slated for a 2014 debut. Instead, he had TJ surgery, followed by a sports hernia operation. Despite missing all of 2014-15, he arrived in Pittsburgh on June 8th, 2016, and claimed a spot in the rotation. 2017 continued his rocky physical road as he fought off cancer, but still put together a line of 8-7/4.44 in 25 starts. He broke out in 2018 after a jerky early season performance, going 14-10/3.20 with a streak of 22 starts giving up three earned runs or fewer starting on May 27th and running through the end of the year. But he got off to a slow start in 2019, and with good reason – he required another TJ surgery, and missed 2020. He was traded to the Yankees in 2021 for four youngsters: pitchers Roansy Contreras and Miguel Yajure, OF Canaan Smith-Njigba and IF Maikol Escotto. 
  • 1992 – The Pirates began to clean up their 40-man roster and chop salaries in a three-day frenzy. The first to be set free were RHP Vicente Palacios, who joined the Padres, and OF Gary Varsho, who inked a deal with the Reds. The Bucs then released OF Cecil Espy (Cincy took him, too) and RHP Roger Mason, who signed with the Mets. On the next day, LHP Bob Patterson was given the Friday heave-ho, landing with the Rangers. They were among the dozen 1992 Buccos to date who found a new address via the expansion draft, free agency, trade or release. 
  • 1997 – The Pirates lost RHP Jason Johnson to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays while RHP Clint Sodowsky and 3B Joe “The Joker” Randa went to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the expansion draft. Randa returned to the Pirate fold for his last MLB season in 2006, while rookie Johnson tossed 10 MLB seasons (albeit only one with an ERA south of 4.00) and Sodowsky worked one full campaign and three games in 1999 to finish his stay in the show. 
  • 1998 – The Bucs sent LHP Ricardo Rincon to the Tribe for OF Brian Giles. In five campaigns with the Pirates, Giles would put up a line of .308/.426/.591 with 165 HR and 426 RBI and was twice named to the All-Star team. That deal began a chain reaction of swaps that eventually led to the Pirates acquiring Jason Bay, Ollie Perez, Xavier Nady, Jose Tabata, Jeff Karstens, Ross Ohlendorf, Daniel McCutchen and Bryan Morris; the trade tree grew when Connor Joe, who was selected as a draft pick obtained by Morris’ trade, was sent to Tampa for Sean Rodriguez before it finally quit bearing fruit. 
Brian Giles – 1999 Skybox Thunder
  • 1999 – The Pirates shuffled the 40-man roster, adding RHP Bronson Arroyo, C Humberto Cota, OF Tike Redman and IF Rico Washington to the list and DFA’ing pitchers Greg Hansell & Javier Martinez, along w/OF Ray Montgomery. 
  • 2004 – OF Jason Bay and LHP Mike Gonzalez were named to the manager-selected Topps MLB Rookie Team. Bay was on a roll; he had already won the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year award after hitting .282 with 26 homers despite missing the early weeks of the season with a bad shoulder. Gonzo went 3-1-1/1.25 with 55 whiffs in 43-1/3 IP, appearing in 47 Bucco games after a late May call up from AAA Nashville and working his way from middle-man to back-ender. 
  • 2011 – The Pirates added a half-dozen ball players to their 40-man roster. OF Starling Marte & SS Jordy Mercer became starters while LHPs Justin Wilson & Rudy Owens were rostered and eventually flipped to other clubs for C Francisco Cervelli and LHP Wandy Rodriguez. Two lesser lights moved to the list were RHP Duke Welker, who was part of the 1B Justin Morneau trade, and Matt Hague, who was waived after the 2014 season after hitting .222 as a Bucco. Duke tossed for the Giants AAA club in 2016 in his last stop while Hague last played in the Nats’ organization in 2018. 
  • 2014 – Free agent C Russ Martin officially signed a contract with the Toronto Blue Jays after spending two playoff years behind the dish for the Bucs. Born in Toronto, it was a homecoming for the 31-year-old Martin, made all that sweeter by a five-year, $82M contract. He played for the LA Dodgers in 2019 to finish his career. 
Josh Harrison – 2014 Topps Update
  • 2014 – Manager Clint Hurdle was given the Brooks Robinson Community Service Award and All-Star Josh Harrison was named the MLB recipient of the Heart and Hustle Award at the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association (MLBPAA) 15th annual Legends for Youth Dinner. Hurdle was recognized for his work with the Prader-Willi Association, which deals with a genetic disorder, while Harrison’s award was given to “an active player who demonstrates a passion for the game and best embodies the values, spirit and traditions of baseball.” 
  • 2019 – Ben Cherington, whose appointment had been leaked earlier as Neil Huntington’s replacement, was officially named as the Pirates GM at a press conference. Cherington told the media “I have always appreciated the passion of Pittsburgh sports fans…Pittsburgh is the ideal opportunity for me, and the only one I was interested in exploring. The four pillars that will drive our success are elite talent identification, acquisition, development and deployment.” And so started the second chapter of the Bob Nutting era, this one driven by Cherington/Travis Williams, after the original 2007 Huntington/Frank Coonelly tandem had faltered.


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