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1/27 From 1995: Starling, Travis Trades; Joe, Jose, Ruben Signed; Maz Statue; RIP Gene; HBD Luis & Bryan

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  • 1995 – OF Bryan Reynolds was born in Baltimore, Maryland. A second-round pick of SF in 2016, he joined the Pirates in 2018 as part of the Andrew McCutchen deal with Giants. A .312 hitter through the minors, he was called up on April 20th, 2019, after the Pirates outfield was cut down with injuries. He put together an 11-game hitting streak to start his career, tying Gregory Polanco for the franchise record. After a sluggish 2020 campaign, he came back with a vengeance and earned his first All Star nod. His 2022 numbers were down but still solid after a slow start, and he was a finalist for the NL Silver Slugger Award after hitting .262 with 27 homers during the campaign. His future here is cloudy, though, as he and the FO have a deep contractual chasm to cross. 
Luis Ortiz – 2022 image AT&T SportsNet
  • 1999 – RHP Luis Ortiz was born in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic and was signed by the Pirates in 2018. The fireballer was called up for his debut in September as the 29th man in a twin bill and pitched shutout ball into the sixth inning, hitting a pitch speed of 100 MPH or more six times. The Buccaneers won the contest but he didn’t figure in the decision. He went 0-2/4.50 in four starts, striking out 10 per game but walking six and is still a work in progress. 
  • 2004 – The Bucs inked OF Ruben Mateo to a minor league deal with an invite to camp. He started the year on the farm and got a call up after tearing it up in Nashville (.311, 11 HR) to replace the AWOL Raul Mondesi. He did OK, hitting .242 with three homers in 39 PA’s before being sold in July to KC. He faded there, and it was his last MLB go-around. He played a year in Korea after that and then went to the Latin leagues, finishing out his days after the 2015 campaign. 
  • 2006 – The Pirates signed jack-of-all-trades Jose Hernandez, who had played for the Bucs in 2003, to a $150K minor league deal (which would jump to $850 K in the majors) with a camp invite. Hernandez did make the team and hit .267 before the 36-year-old was sold to Philadelphia in late August. He came back to Pittsburgh for 2007 as a free agent, but father time caught up to him. He spent the season at Indy and then ended his career with a two-year Mexican League stint. 
  • 2010 – Dejan Kovacevic of the Post Gazette leaked the news that the Bucs were going to build a Maz statue, confirmed by the team two days later during the Fan Fest. Maz joined Honus Wagner, Willie Stargell, and former teammate Roberto Clemente as Bucco greats honored with a statue outside of PNC Park. The 12-foot bronze was designed by local sculptor Susan Wagner and showed the Hall of Fame infielder rounding second base, cap doffed, after his legendary homer. It was dedicated in September during the 50th anniversary celebration of the Pirates 1960 World Championship season. 
Maz at statue dedication – 2010 photo/UPI
  • 2011 – St. Marys (Elk county) native Joe Beimel signed a minor league deal with the Bucs, reuniting him with both the Pirates (he began his career in Pittsburgh from 2001-03) and his former manager Clint Hurdle (he was with the Rox in 2009). The lefty reliever started the year on the DL with forearm stiffness, then came back and made 35 outings (just 25 IP) in the next six weeks with a 5.33 ERA, went back on the DL and was DFA’ed in August. He had TJ surgery in 2012 and returned as a Mariner in 2014-15. He signed several minor league deals afterward, and played indie ball briefly in 2017 before announcing his retirement from baseball in June. Joe packed those 13 big league seasons under his belt pretty much without a safety net – he never signed a contract that was for longer than one year. 
  • 2015 – Fourth outfielder Travis “Lunchbox Hero” (he was renowned for his team cookouts) Snider, a former first-round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays, was traded to Baltimore for a pair of minor league prospects, LHP Stephen Tarpley and a PTBNL (LHP Steven Brault). He returned a few months afterwards for free, as the O’s released him in mid-August and the Bucs signed him a week later before releasing him in the off season. Snider has bumped around in the minors (he even spent a year playing indie ball) since the Pirates let him go, and was released by Miami in 2020. Brault took over a bullpen role after falling short in his starter challenge, then won a spot again in 2019 and pitched solidly from the rotation in 2020. The Pirates flipped Tarpley to the Yankees in 2016 along with minor league OF Tito Polo to land Ivan Nova. He made his debut in the majors as a 2018 September call up and is with Miami now; Polo has yet to reach the show. 
  • 2020 – CF Starling Marte was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for RHP Brennan Malone, 19, and SS Liover Peguero, also 19, marking Ben Cherington’s first big move. Starling signed with the Bucs in 2007, debuted in 2012 and had been a fixture in the Pirates outfield since then, except for a 2017 PED suspension. He hit .287 in Pittsburgh with 239 stolen bases during that span. He was shipped to Miami in September by the D-Backs and then went to the Mets. Malone and Peguero were both highly touted prospects. Peggy has advanced steadily and may get his shot this year while Malone has been held back by injuries. 

Gene Clines – 2020 Topps Heritage/’71 Highlights
  • 2022 – OF Gene Clines passed away at the age of 75 in Bradenton. “Little Angry” was always noisily pushing for time in his five years (1970-74) with the Pirates, but never reached 350 PAs during his Pittsburgh seasons. Still, he was a valuable 10th man – he hit .287 over that span with 51 stolen bases, played all three outfield positions well, was part of four division-winning powerhouse clubs and a World Championship squad along with being a member of the first all-minority lineup in MLB history. He played through 1979 in the show before retiring to become a coach, and was a regular sight at Pirates camp and team reunions.


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