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Familiar Sounds

PITTSBURGH–When the Pirates needed to dip down to the minor leagues for a pitcher for the first time this season, they recalled Brian Meadows from Triple-A Nashville.

That decision seemed like a slam dunk. The veteran righthander was 3-0, 1.00 in three starts with the Sounds and was the reigning Pacific Coast League pitcher of the week.

However, Meadows didn’t think it was a foregone conclusion he would get the call.

"I was pitching well but you could say that about everybody on our pitching staff," Meadows said. "I was off to a really good start and there were guys pitching better than me. It was amazing. I’ve never seen a pitching staff where so many guys were pitching so well at the same time."

Nashville’s staff, loaded with 10 pitchers who have major league experience, was dominating a hitter’s league. The Sounds had a miniscule 2.25 ERA. The Sounds’ great start prompted Nashville pitching coach Darold Knowles, with 23 years of coaching experience, to say it is the best staff he has ever worked with.

Righthander Ryan Vogelsong, the Sounds’ top starting pitching prospect, had the highest ERA, though he was 3-1, 4.38 with 33 strikeouts and just six walks in 25 innings.

Rounding out the rotation were righthanders Nelson Figueroa (2-0, 1.57), Ariel Prieto (0-1, 2.55) and John Wasdin (2-0, 2.33 and a perfect game).

Righthander Matt Guerrier, who sat out the first three weeks of the season with biceps tendinitis, moved into the rotation when Meadows was promoted. Guerrier, 24, led the minor leagues with 18 wins in 2001 while in the White Sox organization.

With most of their top prospects concentrated in the lower levels of the farm system, the Pirates were happy with the staff they had built at Nashville.

"We worked very hard as a staff in the offseason to improve our pitching depth in the organization," general manager Dave Littlefield said. "We needed to go out and fill some holes with a few older guys but we also have good young pitchers."


• Outfielder Tony Alvarez, who shined in a September callup last season with the Pirates, went on the disabled list at Nashville with a strained hamstring after hitting .286-0-6 in seven games.

• Class A Lynchburg first baseman Walter Young, the Pirates’ minor league player of the year last season, went on the DL with a hamstring strain. Young was hitting .222-3-10.

• Previous organization report: Sean Burnett

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