The Pittsburgh Pirates, swapping outfielders at a rapid rate for the second successive season, sent starting left fielder Nyjer Morgan to the Washington Nationals in a four-player deal involving outfielder Lastings Milledge and also shipped backup Eric Hinske to the Yankees on Tuesday.
The Pirates, spurred to trade because their farm system has been unproductive, acquired Milledge and reliever Joel Hanrahan from the Nationals for the fleet Morgan and left-handed reliever Sean Burnett, a former first-round draft pick.
Hinske, the 2002 AL Rookie of the Year, went to the Yankees for minor league right-hander Casey Erickson and outfielder Eric Fryer.
The Yankees also get about $400,000 to help pay the remainder of Hinske’s $1.5 million salary.
Just as they did last season by dealing Jason Bay and Xavier Nady, the Pirates traded two of their three starting outfielders before Aug. 1. They sent former NL All-Star center fielder Nate McLouth to Atlanta on June 4 for pitcher Charlie Morton and two other prospects.
Like the McLouth trade, these deals weren’t popular with players who have seen regular after regular traded – Aramis Ramirez, Brian Giles, Jason Kendall, Bay, Nady – since 2004 with the Pirates getting little in return. The Pirates are on a pace for a major league-record 17th consecutive losing season.
“What’s so shocking is we’re (six) games out and we’ve lost three of our everyday players,” said shortstop Jack Wilson, a nine-year veteran who could be traded this month. “It’s tough for the guys who’ve been here and have seen these trades happen and absolutely do nothing. I’ve seen these trades two or three times a year and we still haven’t had a winning season.”
Morgan, who turns 29 on Thursday, was traded less than halfway through a promising first season as a starter. He is hitting .277 with two homers and 27 RBI, only four fewer than No. 3 hitter Freddy Sanchez, and has 18 steals, although he has been thrown out 10 times.
Clevleand Indians All-Star center fielder Grady Sizemore will likely undergo postseason surgery on his inflamed left elbow, trainer Lonnie Soloff said Tuesday. An MRI revealed no structural damage in Sizemore’s elbow. Earlier this season, the Indians had the former Cascade High School star play some at designated hitter in hopes some rest would help his elbow. They finally had to shut him down and placed the three-time All-Star on the DL on May 31. … Ervin Santana came through a bullpen session with no problems Tuesday, and Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia said the right-hander will be back in the rotation this weekend. An All-Star last season, when he was 16-7 with a 3.49 ERA in 32 starts, he is 1-3 with a 7.47 ERA in six starts this year. … Boston Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right hip. Lowell had fluid drained from his hip Monday in Boston and received an injection designed to alleviate inflammation in the surgically repaired joint. … New York Mets center fielder Carlos Beltran got a second examination on his ailing right knee, which like the first opinion indicated surgery is not required. Beltran likely will be out through the All-Star break while waiting for his bone bruise to subside. He will be re-evaluated later this week and will rest until he is pain free. … Josh Hamilton expects to be back in the Texas Rangers lineup this weekend. Hamilton had surgery three weeks ago to repair a slight abdominal tear.