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Bay to stay … at least, for now

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NASHVILLE — Jason Bay is staying put. Again.

The on-again, off-again trade talks with Cleveland appeared to be snuffed by lunchtime today. The Indians issued a denial to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, while Pirates brass offered nothing but the sound of crickets chirping.

I’ve felt all along, this probably isn’t the best time to consummate a deal for Bay. If he has a strong first half, some contender may be willing to overpay at the trading deadline. Otherwise, there’ll be plenty of time next offseason to do a deal.

— The four-strong media “horde” that covers the Pirates had lunch this afternoon with new manager John Russell. JR is eager to get to minicamp, which will be held in early January in Bradenton, Fla., to get his first look at some pitchers, catchers and players coming off injuries. A former catcher, JR plans to start working asap with Ronny Paulino. Good luck with that.

— Russell and his wife could close a deal tomorrow on a new home in the North Hills. President Frank Coonelly and GM Neal Huntington also are buying houses in the area.

— JR’s coaching staff will gather en masse for the first time next week for meetings at PNC Park. After that, Russell will return to his home in Texas to celebrate the holidays and tie up loose ends. JR will return to Pittsburgh a few days before mini-camp begins.

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