Second baseman Akinori Iwamura, traded by the Tampa Bay Rays, says lowly Pirates can contend

PITTSBURGH — Akinori Iwamura apparently didn't check the standings after being traded from the Rays to the Pirates.

Iwamura, acquired to be Pittsburgh's starting second baseman, is hoping his new team can be a contender soon. Really.

"I know, of course, about Roberto Clemente and that it is a great organization," Iwamura said Wednesday, a day after being traded for right-handed reliever Jesse Chavez.

Iwamura might want to rein in his expectations. The Pirates lost 99 during a major league-record 17th straight losing season.

Iwamura, who played in the 2008 World Series with Tampa Bay, is recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee that sidelined him for three months. Iwamura, 30, played the final month.

"It feels very good, but it's still not 100 percent," Iwamura said, speaking through interpreter Yoshi Hasegawa, his agent. "But I proved last year I can still play at a high level."

PITCHER SHOT IN LEG: Dodgers right-hander Vicente Padilla is recovering from a bullet wound in his leg after a target-shooting instructor accidentally shot him in Managua, Nicaragua.

STATUE THEFT: One of four young men accused of stealing a monument to Orioles great Cal Ripken pleaded guilty to theft. Jason Stoneburner, 19, received a two-year suspended jail term and was ordered to pay restitution to the Orioles.

CUBS: Left-hander Ted Lilly had surgery on his pitching shoulder. The team said the procedure revealed no major damage.

TIGERS: All-Star third baseman Brandon Inge had surgery on both knees to address chronic patellar tendinitis.

Second baseman Akinori Iwamura, traded by the Tampa Bay Rays, says lowly Pirates can contend 11/04/09 [Last modified: Thursday, November 5, 2009 8:31am]

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