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Who goes North?

SARAS0TA, Fla. — With three days left in spring training, most of the Pirates’ 25-man roster is set. The staring lineup is good to go, with the exception of Freddy Sanchez. Freddy got eight at-bats in a minor league game today, but was under orders to jog to first base and was not allowed to make the turn toward second. Think he’ll be ready for opening day? Or are the Pirates simply being uber-cautious?

The starting rotation is set. Duke and Snell have looked good this spring. Maholm has only made three starts this spring — half as many as Duke — but hasn’t shown any signs of problems. Let’s keep a close eye on him. Armas has been good; no indications of any injury problems. Gorzelanny … he could have a short leash this April.

There are two bullpen jobs up for grabs. I think they’ll go to Dan Kolb and Jonah Bayliss. If Kolb can’t get it done, Josh Sharpless — a Beaver County native and a real standout guy in a clubhouse full of good guys — should get a shot.

As for the bench spots … Let’s assume Sanchez spends the first week of the season in Florida, rehabbing his knee and tuning his swing. That makes Jose Castillo the opening day second baseman. So, who are the five bench guys?

Who I think will make the cut: Ryan Doumit, Humberto Cota, Jose Hernandez, Luis Matos, Nate McLouth.

Who should make the cut: Don Kelly, Brad Eldred, Matos, Cota and Doumit.

Kelly’s a local guy, and younger and cheaper than Hernandez. Yeah, Eldred has liabilities. But what other pinch-hitter would you want in the on-deck circle with two outs in the ninth?

What do you think? Click HERE to e-mail me your five picks for the bench spots, along with a reason or two why. I’ll post some of the better answers in an upcoming blog.

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