PITTSBURGH (AP) -Jack Wilson was the Pittsburgh Pirates' shortstop Friday night against Houston. Not even Wilson knows how much longer he will keep the job.
Now that former Dodgers All-Star shortstop Cesar Izturis has been reunited with his former manager, Jim Tracy, the Pirates are expected to actively shop Wilson before the July 31 deadline for trading without waivers. Wilson, the Pirates' shortstop since 2001, has heard the rumors but doesn't know what to expect.
According to Tracy, Wilson will remain his starting shortstop but, Tracy said Friday, ``You have to play Cesar Izturis at some point in time to find out where he's at.''
What Wilson doesn't know is where he'll be a week from now - in Boston, perhaps, or with another contender who could use a former All-Star shortstop who had 201 hits three years ago and has been in the running for Gold Glove awards?
``It seems to be a secret. I'd like to get a little bit of information but I haven't been successful,'' Wilson said. ``It's a waiting game and we'll see what happens.''
With Wilson due to make about $14 million the next two seasons, the Pirates apparently see this as an opportunity to shed all or most of his salary and replace him with a player of comparable ability. The Pirates could pick up Izturis' $5.85 million salary for 2008 and save $650,000 over the $6.5 million that Wilson will make.
``He's a very good player I highly respect, an All-Star shortstop and a Gold Glove type guy,'' said Wilson, who once asked Izturis for an autographed bat for his collection. ``I'm happy to have him here - for however long it is.''
Izturis, who at 27 is nearly three years younger than Wilson, hit a career high .288 while playing for Tracy with Los Angeles in 2004. Izturis slipped to .257 in 2005, then was dealt to the Cubs last year after the Dodgers acquired Rafael Furcal. Izturis (.246, eight RBIs) became stuck on the Cubs' bench after Ryan Theriot won the shortstop's job.
Izturis likes that he'll be playing for Tracy again, but was surprised to land in Pittsburgh because he wasn't aware the Pirates were interested in trading Wilson. The Cubs sent Izturis and cash to the Pirates on Thursday for a player to be named.
``I was surprised a little bit to come over here to Pittsburgh. I just want to play every day and help the team win,'' Izturis said. ``It's my first day here, and we'll see what happens down the stretch.''
Wilson might not be the only player to exit Pittsburgh over the coming weeks as the Pirates close in on a 15th consecutive losing season, one short of the major league record. Left-hander Damaso Marte and right-hander Salomon Torres could be very useful bullpen pickups for a team in contention.
Tracy would be happy to keep Wilson and Izturis, though it would be difficult to find playing time for both. Izturis can play second base, but he's not about to bump 2006 NL batting champion Freddy Sanchez.
``When there are opportunities to get hold of players who are very, very good, you jump on that and that's what we did,'' Tracy said. ``Now we have two of the better defensive middle infielders in baseball. When you have resources on a club like that, you're making strides in the right direction.''
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