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Pirates part ways with infielder Reese

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Pirates declined to exercise
their option on second baseman Pokey Reese, deciding not to pay him
$5,125,000 next year after he missed all but five weeks of last
season.

Reese gets a $750,000 buyout. Pittsburgh had until midnight
Sunday to exercise the option.

Reese signed a $5 million, two-year deal with the Pirates in
2002 after rejecting a $21 million, four-year offer from Cincinnati
the year before.

His average jumped from .224 with Cincinnati in 2001 to .264
with the Pirates in 2002 and had four homers and 50 RBI. He hit
.215 in 37 games last season before tearing a thumb ligament.

Pirates general manager Dave Littlefield said in September that
the 30-year-old Reese would not return to Pittsburgh.

"We'll look around baseball and look internally to see what our
options are," Littlefield said.

The two most likely candidates are rookies Freddy Sanchez and
Bobby Hill, both acquired during the Pirates' flurry of deals
around the trading deadline.

Hill, the only player left from the trade that sent third
baseman Aramis Ramirez and center fielder Kenny Lofton to the Cubs,
has a .254 average in 64 major league games. Sanchez was considered
the Red Sox's top middle infield prospect before going to
Pittsburgh in the Jeff Suppan trade.

Sanchez hit .341 in 211 at-bats with Triple-A Pawtucket last
season, but played only one game in the Pirates' system before
missing the rest of the season with tendinitis in his right ankle.
He has a .220 average in 32 major league games.