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Moss swings, will try BP Tuesday

BRADENTON, Fla. — Brandon Moss wore a wide smile tonight as he reported on the progress of his injury rehab.

“Thumbs up!” Moss said.

Moss took some hacks in the batting cage today for the first time since spraining and bruising his right thumb. He is slated to take live batting practice Tuesday.

If all goes well, Moss will take another round of batting practice Wednesday, then play in a minor-league game Thursday.

How quickly Moss is able to return will affect how long Jose Tabata stays in big-league camp.

• Several players have dollar bills taped to their lockers at McKechnie Field. When I asked Adam LaRoche what they signified, he explained they’re rewards from hitting coach Don Long.

During batting practice, Long mixes baseballs marked with a small “X” in with the other balls. If a batter correctly spots one of the marked balls, which are used only for certain types of pitches, he wins a dollar from Long. It’s an excellent tool to hone pitch-development skills.

Among the biggest money-winners are Pedro Alvarez, Jeff Salazar and Andy LaRoche.

• Virgil Vasquez will start tomorrow against the Yankees. Tyler Yates and Evan Meek also are slated to pitch. CC Sabathia will start for the Yanks.

• Tonight’s game was my last for about a week. I’m flying back to Pittsburgh tomorrow morning, then will return for the final 11 days of spring camp. Tricia Lafferty, whom some of you may recognize from the Trib’s coverage of the Penguins, will hold down the fort — both in print and online — while I’m away.

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