Duke ready to go


BRADENTON, Fla. — Zach Duke is scheduled to throw just one inning Friday in his spring training debut. Other candidates for the rotation — Ian Snell, Paul Maholm, Ross Ohlendorf, Jason Davis, Tom Gorzelanny — will each make two-inning appearances.

However, Duke said there is nothing unusual about his setup and his short initial outing is not due to an injury.

“I’m fine,” Duke said. “The plan is for me to be back up in a couple of days, instead of getting the usual four days’ rest, so it’s just one inning.”

• Lefty Phil Dumatrait (shoulder) threw a 35-pitch bullpen session today and reported no problems. He threw four or five curveballs — the first time that pitch was included in his session — and the rest were fastballs and changeups. Before he’s ready to pitch in a game, though, Dumatrait will have to toss a few more sidelines and live batting practice.

• Third baseman Andy LaRoche (back spasms) was pretty much full-go today. He did all of his usual defensive work and looked fine as he took batting practice in the cage off coach Tom Prince. LaRoche just stood at the plate and tracked pitches instead of swinging at live batting practice from the pitchers.

“If he keeps progressing, then we should be able to get him in (games) a little quicker than we thought,” manager John Russell said. Wednesday’s opener against Philly is out of the question, but LaRoche might be able to play Thursday against the Red Sox.

• Right-hander Brian Slocum has a slight hamstring strain and was not among the 17 pitchers who threw b.p. today. Virgil Vasquez continues to work his way back from arm soreness.

• Other than LaRoche’s back, there have been no serious health issues so far in camp. There has been a small rash of strained quads and the usual assortment of blisters, but no major problems.

• Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel were among a group of minor league players who shagged flies during batting practice. The group included Jamie Romak and other early arrivals for minor league camp.

• The Pirates will leave Pirate City after Tuesday’s workout and move their operations a couple of miles away to McKechnie Field.

• Today is the anniversary of two notable trades in Pirates history. In 1921, the club acquired Hall of Fame shortstop Rabbit Maranville from Boston in exchange for three players and $15,000.

Maranville played four seasons in Pittsburgh. In 1924, his final season with the Pirates, Maranville hit just .266 with two homers and 71 RBI, yet finished seventh in the MVP voting.

In 2000, the Pirates swapped outfielder Al Martin to San Diego for John Vander Wal and two minor league pitchers who never amounted to anything.