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Pirates Finally Part Ways With Akinori Iwamura

Buried in the fine print about the Pirates' recent promotions of eight players to the big leagues was that one of the moves the Bucs made to find space for all those guys was to designate Akinori Iwamura for assignment, which essentially means that Iwamura has played his last game with the organization. 

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His time with the Pirates was uninspiring, to say the least. The Bucs acquired him last offseason for reliever Jesse Chavez, and took on Iwamura's $4.85 million salary in order to do so. Unfortunately, the Bucs didn't give Iwamura a physical before the trade, despite his recent history of knee issues (although they did scout him at the end of the 2009 season, after he'd returned from knee surgery). It's certainly possible, and maybe even likely, the physical wouldn't have turned up anything, but the Pirates left themselves open to second-guessing, as Iwamura showed up at camp visibly heavier than he'd been before, and struggled both offensively and defensively. The Pirates finally sent him to Class AAA after he batted .182 in 54 games, and finally he played well, but so much of his production was tied up in walks that it was hard to believe he'd be able to replicated if he returned to the bigs. In any case, he's gone now, and the Pirates are $4.85 million poorer.

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On the bright side, though, the hole he created at second base has been filled by Neil Walker. Walker isn't a defensive whiz at second, but he's new to the position, and if he can continue to hit anywhere near as well as he has this year, he should stick in the Pirates' infield for years to come.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.