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Crew claims infielder Cruz off waivers

Crew claims infielder Cruz off waivers

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Brewers claimed infielder Luis Cruz off waivers from the Pirates on Monday, but the pick-up has nothing to do with the team's ongoing pursuit of versatile veteran Craig Counsell, general manager Doug Melvin said.

Instead, Cruz will help the Brewers fill holes at shortstop in the upper levels of the Minor Leagues. The 25-year-old has at least one option remaining.

"We don't have a Double-A [Huntsville] or a Triple-A [Nashville] shortstop," said assistant general manager Gord Ash, adding that Huntsville's Yohanis Perez had leveled off. "It's a position of need. We wanted to make sure we had some insurance there at a relatively modest price."

Cruz appeared sparingly for the Pirates in each of the past two seasons, batting .219 as a shortstop and a second baseman. He's a .250 hitter over parts of nine Minor League campaigns with the Red Sox, Padres and Pirates, topping out with 12 home runs and 65 RBIs at Double-A Mobile (Padres) in 2006.

The Pirates placed Cruz on waivers on Saturday to clear a spot on their full 40-man roster ahead of Thursday's Rule 5 Draft.

Counsell remains a top target of the Brewers. Melvin submitted a contract offer to agent Barry Meister ahead of this week's Winter Meetings and planned to meet with the agent face-to-face in Indianapolis, though that meeting has yet to take place as of Monday. Melvin said he would like to get an answer from Meister before the meetings break up on Thursday.

"Craig's a good player and a veteran guy. We'd like to have him back," Melvin said.

Based on his solid season, Counsell might want a multiyear deal. The cost-conscious Brewers, who are pouring their resources into pitching, would much rather commit to only one year.

"They can always ask, because sometimes agents have been known to get what they ask for. We've been known to give up what they ask for," Melvin said. "We might know by the time we leave here, one way or the other, or get close to it. There's no deadline on it, but we would like to know."

The Brewers are particularly focused on having depth on the infield behind injury-prone second baseman Rickie Weeks, rookie shortstop Alcides Escobar and somewhat-unproven third baseman Casey McGehee.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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