10/27/2003 3:55 PM ET
Pirates decline option on Reese
By Ed Eagle / MLB.com
Second baseman Pokey Reese's contract option was not picked up by the Pirates. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)
Gold Glove second baseman Pokey Reese's tenure with the Pittsburgh Pirates has come to an end, as the team has decided not to exercise his $5 million club option for the 2004 season.
"We have made the decision that we are not going to pick up his option," said Pirates GM Dave Littlefield. "He's a free agent after the World Series."
Reese, signed as a free agent on Jan. 29, 2002, appeared in 156 games as Pittsburgh's starting second basemen during the last two seasons, batting .252 with five home runs and 62 RBIs. However, he hit just .215 in 37 games in 2003 before being sidelined for the season with a torn ligament in his left thumb on May 13.
The loss of Reese leaves the team without an experienced replacement at second base.
"We'll have to evaluate this as to where we are at in the middle infield," said Littlefield. "But at this point in time, we're going to look around the industry and look internally as to what we are going to be doing."
The top internal candidates to replace Reese are Freddy Sanchez and Bobby Hill, a pair of prospects with limited Major League experience. Both were acquired in trades last season.
Sanchez, 25, hit .341 with five home runs in 211 at-bats at Triple-A Pawtucket before being acquired from the Red Sox on July 31 as part of a deal that sent starter Jeff Suppan to Boston. He appeared in just one game with Triple-A Nashville before being sidelined for the season with tendinitis in his right ankle. Sanchez has hit .220 in 32 big-league games.
Hill, 25, was the player to be named later in the July 22 deal that sent Aramis Ramirez and Kenny Lofton to the Chicago Cubs. Hill batted .269 with seven home runs and 44 RBIs at Triple-A despite lingering back problems that would sideline him in September after he had appeared in only one game with the Pirates. In 64 career Major League games, Hill has batted .254 with four home runs and 20 RBIs.