LAS VEGAS — Odds and ends, as the first day of the Winter Meetings draws to an agonizingly slow close …
· GM Neal Huntington said outfielder Brandon Moss (knee) recently had a check-up in Pittsburgh and the doctors liked what they saw. Moss should be ready for the start of spring training, although he will be “protected” (as Huntington put it) for the early part of camp.
Huntington said former first-rounder Andrew McCutchen is “likely” to be on the big-league team sometime next season. My best guess, right now: McCutchen will open the season on the Pirates’ roster.
· Lefty Phil Dumatrait (shoulder) is “a little bit behind” in his post-surgery rehab, Huntington said, but is expected to be ready to compete for a rotation spot during spring training. However, Huntington added that if Dumatrait has “another two- or three-week setback,” Dumatrait will either go to the bullpen or open the season on the DL.
· If free agent Mark Loretta winds up taking Arizona’s contract offer, the Pirates could turn their attention to infielder Craig Counsell.
· The high-powered front office types here are shacked up in roomy suites on the uppermost floors of the Bellagio. The doorways are wider. The accommodations are more plush. And the hallways are longer.
Huntington’s room is all … the … way … at … the … end of the 34th floor, the last suite on the left. “Did you enjoy the hike?” Huntington joked, as a group of reporters was ushered in for his first nightly recap of the team’s (in)activity at the meetings.
· Manager John Russell, an avid Oklahoma fan, was quick to needle Pirates.com reporter and Mizzou grad Jenifer Langosh about the outcome of last Saturday’s Big 12 championship game. Russell has tickets to the BCS Championship and hopes to make the trip to Miami for the Sooners’ clash against Florida.
· When you hear the Pirates are mulling an offer to Derrick Turnbow, here’s something to think about: In 18 innings last season in Triple-A, Turnbow allowed 17 hits, 21 runs, hit one batter and issued 41 walks.
Forty-one walks. Eighteen innings.
· When MLB Network launches Jan. 1, 2009, its lineup of reporters and analysts will include Harold Reynolds, Al Leiter, Matt Vasgersian and Trennie Kusnierek. From 2003-07, Kusnierek was a reporter/anchor for Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh.
“We were all on the train back to Manhattan last week and one of our producers said, ‘I feel like I’m part of an all-star team of television talent,’ ” Kusnierek said. “That’s the way I feel. Everybody is the best, everyone is excited and hard-working.”
The network’s two studios were named in honor of Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson. Studio 3 (Ruth’s uniform number) will be the venue for MLB Tonight, a nightly, 8-hour show of highlights and analysis. Studio 42 (Robinson’s number) is a mini replica field, which will be used as a demonstration center for the on-air analysts.