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Hinske may be out up to a week

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BRADENTON, Fla. — Eric Hinske doesn’t expect to miss more than a week with a bruise on his left ribcage.

Hinske sustained the injury Wednesday when he crashed into the outfield wall. He played yesterday, but when he took batting practice this morning, his ribs were too sore to go on.

“I was in the cage, thinking, ‘What am I doing?’ ” Hinske said. “I felt OK yesterday, but a lot worse today.”

Hinske was scratched from the lineup and replaced at designated hitter by Pedro Alvarez. Making his first start this spring, Alvarez went 1 for 3.

Since it’s so early in spring training, the Pirates have time to be ultra-cautious with Hinske. “It shouldn’t be too long,” manager John Russell said. “It could be a day or two or three or four. I don’t want (the injury) to linger.”

• Tom Gorzelanny pitched two scoreless innings in the 5-2 loss against the Braves. “It felt good. I felt strong out there,” Gorzelanny said. “I want to prove to everybody that I do belong in this rotation and on this team.”

Russell described Gorzo’s outing as “OK.” The left walked the first two batters of the second inning and then went 3-2 on Matt Diaz, but got a double play to escape the jam.

• Gorzo adjusted his physique — he’s about 20 pounds slimmer — and his attitude this offseason. He was usually surly in 2008, when he won just six games and spent the bulk of the summer in the minors. But so far this spring, Gorzelanny’s been upbeat, approachable and friendly in the clubhouse and with the media.

• The Pirates’ lone RBI came from Neil Walker, who doubled home Jose Tabata in the ninth inning. In the eighth, Shelby Ford singled, went to third on Jason Jaramillo’s single and scored on a wild pitch.

• Zach Duke pitched one inning and gave up a solo homer to Greg Norton. Duke is scheduled to work two innings Monday against the Reds.

• Saturday, Paul Maholm will work the first two innings against the Houston. Jeff Karstens, Matt Capps, Jesse Chavez and Craig Hansen also will pitch. Brian Moehler will start for the Astros.

• Among those who will not make the loooooong bus ride tomorrow to Kissimmee: Ryan Doumit, Jaramillo, Jack Wilson, Freddy Sanchez and Nate McLouth. Hinske already was slated to skip the trip before his rib injury flared up.

• Today was Chipper Jones’ first game in Bradenton since 1990, when he was playing for the Braves’ rookie ball team. Jones told Braves beat writers he made the two-hour trip so he could check in with his hunting and golf buddy, Adam LaRoche. “If that’s true, I’m touched,” LaRoche said, grinning. “But I don’t believe him.”

• Capps, talking about working with pitching coach Joe Kerrigan: “We’re not trying to re-invent the game. When things start to go bad, he says, ‘OK, let’s simplify it.’ I like that. He does have kind of a calming sense to him, with all the success he’s had in the past. You know what he’s talking about.”

• Among the sights today at McKechnie Field was pitcher Virgil Vasquez wearing a warmup shirt with the message, “No, I don’t use steroids. But thanks for asking” written on the back. Overheard during a pregame conversation among a group of Bradenton Boosters, the senior citizen volunteers who keep the ballpark running: “Are the Hooters girls here yet?”

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