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WSI News - News Watch

Wells, Lowe, and Fogg prospering in Pittsburgh

March 24, By Phil Rogers; Chicago Tribune

As the White Sox wrap up a nightmarish spring for their young pitching staff, they sure could use the three pitchers they traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Sean Lowe, Kip Wells and rookie Josh Fogg, who were traded to the Pirates for veteran starter Todd Ritchie and minor-league catcher Lee Evans, all are making the most of a chance to get in on the ground floor in Pittsburgh.

Not only could all three break camp with the Pirates, but there's a decent chance Lowe and Wells will open the season as the Nos. 1 and 2 starters. Wells is on target to start April 3 at New York's Shea Stadium. Lowe, who lobbied unsuccessfully for two seasons for regular work in the Sox's rotation, and wandering lefty Ron Villone are the leading candidates for Opening Day.

Villone might have put himself ahead with five strong innings against Cincinnati on Friday.

Manager Lloyd McClendon prefers to start someone with experience in the opener. He has set up his rotation with Wells and young lefties Jimmy Anderson and Dave Williams as his second, third and fourth starters. Fogg, who was sixth in line for the rotation, is likely to stick as a long reliever.

Lowe has been the best pitcher in the Pirates' camp, taking a 1.80 earned-run average into the weekend. He hopes McClendon will give him the ball to face the Mets' Al Leiter.

"I'm not a No. 1 starter, an ace-of-the-staff kind of guy," Lowe said.

"But the objective is to win every game, right from Opening Day. I'm confident I could win an opener or any other game I pitch in. Because of that, it wouldn't bother me at all to pitch the opener. In fact, I'd look forward to the challenge."

The Pirates signed Villone only two days before camp opened. He's trying to make it eight teams in eight big-league seasons and has made a good impression. The Pirates' real No. 1, Kris Benson, will open the season in Triple A as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, but he could rejoin the Pirates in mid-May.

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