Luis Cruz injures hip


BRADENTON, Fla. — Backup infielder Luis Cruz sustained a strained left hip flexor during the first hour of today’s final workout at Pirate City. Cruz is expected to be out up to a week.

• Manager John Russell, like the players, is eager to get the Grapefruit League season under way.

“It’s time to take that next step,” Russell said. “We accomplished a lot while we were here. We still have a lot of work to do between now and opening day.”

The Pirates will use nine relievers Wednesday against the Phillies. Russell said the goal in the early batch of spring games is to see pitchers applying what they’ve been taught.

“First-pitch strikes, get ahead, get early out, use the changeup, things like that,” Russell said. “The first outing of spring training sometimes is a little shaky, and we understand that, but the message and the process should be the same.”

Russell pointed out that Ryan Doumit got off to a slow start last spring, but that was no indication of what he’d do in the regular season.

“We want those guys to stay with the process,” Russell said. “We’ll see what we need to see. It’s not always the results. In spring training, the wind blows out really hard and your ERA is 9.00. The same thing goes for a guy who hits .450. You’ve got to see how they did it.”

• Second baseman Freddy Sanchez has been long-tossing from 120 and 150 feet without problems. Sanchez battled shoulder problems much of last season. “Perry (Hill) has been working with Freddy on positioning and how he sets up to throw,” Russell said. “It takes a lot of stress off his arm. It’s made a big difference for him.”

• Tomorrow’s game will be broadcast on WPGB-FM (104.7). It will be the debut of broadcaster Tim Neverett, who was hired in December after Lanny Fratarre’s retirement.

• The Pirates signed free agent infielder Ruben Gotay, who will report to minor league camp. Gotay, who has some experience in the majors, is a good depth acquisition.