Wilson would like to play for Pittsburgh in 2008

Updated: November 9, 2007, 6:20 PM ET
Associated Press

PITTSBURGH -- Craig Wilson would welcome a return to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Wilson, the power-hitting first baseman-outfielder who hit 29 homers for the Pirates in 2004, is seeking a bench job in the majors and would like to play again for Pittsburgh. He was dealt to the Yankees at the trading deadline in 2006 and has since been in the Yankees, Braves and White Sox organizations.

Wilson, who turns 31 later this month, was bothered by an injured right shoulder this past season and had arthroscopic surgery in June. Before the surgery, Wilson hit .172 with one homer and two RBIs in 58 at-bats for Atlanta.

In 15 games for the White Sox's Triple-A Charlotte farm club, Wilson hit .180 with one homer and five RBIs in 61 at-bats.

The shoulder injury took away much of Wilson's power, but he said Friday he feels fine and is swinging the bat freely and without pain.

"I know at this stage of my career, I'm not going to get a contract to be an everyday player, but I'd love to come back here and play off the bench,'' said Wilson, who tied a major league record by hitting seven pinch-hit homers in 2001. "I always liked it in Pittsburgh and never wanted to leave here.''

Wilson made $2 million last season but is aware he must take a substantial paycut to get a major league contract this winter. Some teams might want him to sign a minor league deal that would guarantee him major league money only if he is promoted to the big leagues.

Maybe Wilson should lobby Chuck Tanner for a job. The 78-year-old Tanner, the last Pirates manager to win a postseason series, returned to the club Friday as a senior adviser in the baseball operations department.

Tanner has spent the last five seasons as a scout for the Indians, where he worked with new Pirates general manager Neal Huntington.

Wilson was a full-season regular only once in his six years with the Pirates from 2001-06. He hit .264 with 29 homers and 82 RBIs and 169 strikeouts in 561 at-bats in 2004. He missed most of the 2005 season with a broken left hand and a finger injury on the same hand and wound up with a .264 average, five homers and 22 RBIs in 59 games.

He was a platoon player much of the following season, hitting .267 with 13 homers and 41 RBIs in 85 games before being dealt to the Yankees. He had a .212 average with four homers and eight RBIs in 40 games for New York and was left off the Yankees' postseason roster.

Wilson is believed to have talked with new Pirates manager John Russell. Huntington is still weighing roster options and is not commenting on specific players.

Huntington said Friday that Russell's staff is expected to be in place soon. The Pirates have yet to announce any coaching staff hires since Russell took over as manager on Monday.

Tanner had an 711-685 record as the Pirates manager from 1977-85, winning the World Series by beating Baltimore in seven games in 1979 -- the last time the Pirates took a postseason series. They have been to the playoffs only three times since, losing in the NLCS in 1990, 1991 and 1992, the last season they had a winning record.

Tanner worked for the Milwaukee Brewers for 11 years as a special assistant to the general manager before taking the Indians' job. He had a 1352-1381 record as a major league manager for 19 seasons with the White Sox, Athletics, Pirates and Braves. His last season as a manager was 1988 with Atlanta.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press