Pirates light candle, vent frustration

Updated: June 5, 2009, 6:36 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Pittsburgh Pirates players, frustrated and doubtful about management's intentions of winning, are not happy that starting center fielder Nate McLouth was traded to the Atlanta Braves for three prospects.

McLouth
McLouth

"Wow," second baseman Freddy Sanchez said Thursday of the trade, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I think the biggest thing was the shock factor. It's obviously a tough pill to swallow. Our No. 3 hitter just got taken away, the guy who leads our team in home runs and RBIs, and we were 6½ games out. We could still have been right there. I think we still can. But we're all just kind of wondering right now ... wondering what it is."

On Wednesday, the Pirates dealt McLouth, one of their best players, to the Atlanta Braves for outfielder Gorkys Hernandez, one of the Braves' top prospects, along with pitchers Charlie Morton and Jeff Locke.

On Thursday, at the clubhouse table where McLouth used to play cards with relievers Sean Burnett and Jesse Chavez, a candle bearing McLouth's uniform No. 13 was lit, and sat alongside a photo of him in uniform, the Post-Gazette reported. "We'll miss him," Burnett said.

Other players were angrier.

"There ain't a guy in here who ain't [ticked] off about it," said first baseman Adam LaRoche, according to the report. "It's kind of like being with your platoon in a battle, and guys keep dropping around you. You keep hanging on, hanging on, and you've got to figure: How much longer till you sink?

"It's fine. Heck with it. We're not the GM. We don't run the team. If they feel like it's the best move for three or four years from now, great," LaRoche said, according to the report. "Unfortunately, that does me no good. I've still got to be in here telling guys it's going to be fine with Nate gone. Well, you can only do that for so long until guys just kind of ... well, they know."

Manager John Russell, who summoned players into his office to hear them out on Thursday, said the trade should not be taken as a sign the Pirates aren't serious about winning, according to the report, echoing what general manager Neal Huntington and team president Frank Coonelly said earlier about the deal. He also said the team still had a job to do, despite the players' feelings.

"The players lost a friend, a teammate and a good player," Russell said, according to the report. "They might be thinking that we've thrown in the towel, but it's time to turn the page and play baseball. It's time to move on."

Russell said that before the Pirates beat the New York Mets 11-6.

"I thought the guys responded very well," Russell said after the game, according to the report. "They still know we have some things to accomplish here. They went out and played very good baseball today."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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