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BRADENTON, Fla. — The Pirates have held their spring camp here since 1969, so there’s not a lot of new ground I can break. But I do have one small claim to fame: I was the first person at McKechnie Field to chow down on a giant turkey leg.

The food in the press lunch room is a hit-or-miss proposition, so I went native the day the Pirates played their opener here a few days ago. The first stand I saw had a big sign proclaiming “GIANT TURKEY LEG!” I mean, how can you go wrong with that?

For a mere six bucks (note to the Trib’s accounting department: they did not have any receipts, so you’ll have to take my word for it on my expense account form), I got a man-sized hunk of meat and bone. Wrapped in tin foil, it resembled a bocci ball on a stick.

I took a bite and was immediately peppered with questions from the folks working the stand. Was it tasty? Was it cooked enough? Too hot? Too cold? Turned out, I was the first customer.

No one asked me the one question I really needed to hear: Did I need a napkin?

During the regular season, you can usually expect to get a decent meal in the press box. But that’s not always the case in spring training. There’s a restaurant chain down here called — no lie — Beef O’Brady’s, which isn’t too bad. But you get tired of that, and Applebee’s/Olive Garden/Pizza Hut and the rest.

To break up the monotony, the other night I went out for sushi with some of the Japanese reporters. And, yes, I ordered the Kuwata roll (raw oyster and other stuff I could not identify). I also got a NYYankees roll (spicy tuna) and the aptly named Godzilla roll (it came highly recommended and, dunked in a ton of wasabe, did not disappoint).

But what I really could use right now is a sloppy Vincent’s pizza or, better yet, some rouladen and a cold Penn Gold at Penn Brewery on the North Side.
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