Notes: Mixed emotions for McClendon

Notes: Mixed emotions for McClendon

PITTSBURGH -- Former Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon admits he isn't sure how he'll feel about coming back to PNC Park for the first time since being dismissed last September after nearly five years on the job.

McClendon, who is currently the bullpen coach in Detroit, will be in town for the Tigers' weekend series against the Pirates.

"I'm looking forward to returning," said McClendon, who also spent time with the Pirates as a player and coach. "But I'll be glad when it's over."

While the Tigers -- who feature a coaching staff that also includes fellow ex-Bucs skippers Jim Leyland and Gene Lamont, in addition to former Pirates players Andy Van Slyke, Rafael Belliard and Don Slaught, have raced out to the best record in the big leagues -- the Pirates appear to be headed toward their 14th consecutive losing season.

McClendon, who can't help but still keep close tabs on the Pirates, said that he does not receive any satisfaction from watching his former team and former players continue to struggle.

"I look at the box scores to see how some of the young kids are doing. It's unfortunate. It's a tough year for them," said McClendon. "They have some young talent. They just have to keep their nose to the grindstone.

"I feel for a lot of those young players, because I know what they put into it and I know their expectations. They're just in a very unfortunate situation. In order to compete at this level, I think it takes some revenue. They're just not where they should be from a financial standpoint now. They tried to put some money into the club this year, but the signings just didn't work out for them."

McClendon's sympathy only goes so far, though. He plans to put his expert knowledge of the Bucs to good use this weekend.

"We'll go over the scouting reports," said McClendon. "I think we probably got it pretty well covered over the last 12 years or so with Jim, Geno and myself. I think our scouting report will be pretty efficient."

Randa takes bereavement leave: The Pirates on Thursday placed third baseman Joe Randa on the bereavement list due to a death in his family.

Randa returned to his native Wisconsin. He is expected to rejoin the Pirates on Sunday.

Infielder Mike Edwards was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis to temporarily replace Randa on the active roster. Edwards has gone 2-for-10 in 11 games with the Pirates this season.

Wilson, Casey sit: First basemen Sean Casey and Craig Wilson, both of whom are recovering from minor injuries, were held out of the starting lineup Thursday.

Casey, who suffered a left rotator cuff contusion while diving to make a play Tuesday, took swings in the indoor batting cages at PNC Park on Thursday morning as head athletic trainer Brad Henderson looked on. Casey could be available for pinch-hitting duties in the finale against the White Sox.

Wilson suffered a contusion of his left elbow Wednesday night during a collision at first base with White Sox second baseman Tadahito Iguchi. X-rays taken after the game were negative, and an MRI exam of the elbow on Thursday morning revealed no structural damage. Wilson is not expected to miss significant action due to the injury.

Reserve infielder Jose Hernandez made his fifth start of the season at first base Thursday.

Mayor joins ballot push: With online balloting set to conclude at 11:59 p.m. ET tonight, Pittsburgh Mayor Bob O'Connor is doing his part to help the Pirates finish their All-Star push with a flurry of activity.

O'Connor proclaimed Thursday as "Get Out the 25 Votes Online Day."

"I encourage fans to display their Pittsburgh pride and use their 25 online votes," said O'Connor. "Let's work to put Pittsburgh's best on display on an international stage."

As of Monday, Jason Bay was the leading vote-getter among NL outfielders, Jack Wilson ranked second among shortstops and Jose Castillo ranked third among second basemen. Pirates third baseman Freddy Sanchez, catcher Ronnie Paulino and Craig Wilson were the top write-in candidates.

Voting is typically very heavy during the final day of balloting.

Down on the farm: Pirates 2001 top pick John Van Benschoten, who has been sidelined by shoulder problems since the end of the 2004 season, threw a 60-pitch bullpen session in Bradenton, Fla., on Tuesday.

"He threw the ball extremely well," said Pirates player development director Brian Graham. "The velocity and mechanics were good. There was no pain."

Graham said that there is no set timeline for either Van Benschoten or 2002 first-round pick Bryan Bullington to begin Minor League rehab assignments. Bullington had right shoulder surgery last October.

"Bullington has good days and bad days," said Graham. "He's probably not progressing as quickly as we hoped. But every pitcher is different. He is making strides and he's getting better."

In other Minor League news, infielder Craig Stansberry was promoted from Double-A Altoona to Indianapolis on Wednesday night. Stanberry batted .258 with 18 doubles, 10 home runs and 30 RBIs in 72 games with the Curve.

On deck: The Pirates and Tigers will begin their three-game series on Friday night at PNC Park. Right-hander Kip Wells (0-2, 11.88 ERA) will start for Pittsburgh against veteran Detroit lefty Kenny Rogers (10-3, 3.44 ERA).

Ed Eagle is a reporter for reporter Jason Beck contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.