BRADENTON, Fla. The player countdown was at eight when this morning’s workout got under way at Pirate City. By mid-afternoon, Jack Wilson, Jose Tabata, Shelby Ford and Freddy Sanchez had checked into camp. As of 3:30 this afternoon, the only missing player is non-roster infielder Pedro Lopez.
All 57 invited players will gather at 9 a.m. Tuesday for a meeting with manager John Russell, then take the fields for the first full-squad workout.
• Owner Bob Nutting and team prez Frank Coonelly will address the team Thursday morning. Coonelly is in Arizona for tomorrow’s arbitration hearing with Nate McLouth.
• GM Neal Huntington hopes there are no hard feelings after McLouth’s arbitration hearing. “Nate had a quality season last year and he’s a good person,” Huntington said. “I think if we go about it the right way, we can avoid some of the bitterness that comes out of some of these hearings.”
The Pirates, of course, will concede that McLouth had a stellar season last year. But, they will argue that their offer of $2.75 million is comparable for other first-year starting outfielders who are in their first year of arbitration eligibility.
• Too bad the McLouth’s hearing — or any arby hearing, for that matter — isn’t televised on MLB.tv or Court TV. The process is mostly shrouded in secrecy — teams try to keep even the hearing dates secret, little is revealed about each sides’ arguments, and the arbitrators announce their decision without comment or explanation. It would be fascinating to get an up-close look at how it all works.
• Today’s workout lasted the usual 3 1/2 hours under sunny skies and temps in the low 70s. A stiff, chilly breeze blowing out to right field made things interesting at Field 3.
Beyond the fence in right is a parking lot used by Pirates fans and golfers at an adjacent course. During batting practice, Adam LaRoche and Eric Hinske mashed several balls toward the cluster of cars. The day’s best — or worst, if you’re an insurance adjuster — blast was hit by non-roster outfielder Jeff Salazar. The ball cleared the fence easily and crash-landed on a windshield, drawing a long Oooooh! from the players shagging flies in center field.
• Eighteen pitchers, including Ian Snell, Ross Ohlendorf, Matt Capps and Sean Burnett, threw in the bullpen for about 10 minutes apiece.