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Machi held out for tests

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BRADENTON, Fla. — Other than Joel Hanrahan (elbow), the only “casualty” on the first day of spring training was reliever Jean Machi.

The right-hander did not throw his scheduled bullpen session today. Instead, Machi was held out of workouts for what the Pirates described only as “some follow-up tests after his physical.”

Machi, 28, is a non-roster invitee who is coming off a fine winter ball season in Venezuela — he had 16 saves in 31 outings and a 1.25 ERA for Navegantes del Magallnes. With Hanrahan on the shelf, Machi was a bit less of a longshot candidate to make the team.

Originally signed by the Phillies in 2000, Machi has been up and down the minor leagues. The Pirates signed him as a minor-league free agent in February 2009. Machi pitched last summer for Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indy and put up a total of 12 saves and a 2.09 ERA in 41 games.

— Under sunny skies and with temps in the mid-50s, 35 pitchers and catchers and a handful of position players worked out at Pirate City. Bullpen sessions were thrown by Ross Ohlendorf, Paul Maholm, Kevin Hart, D.J. Carrasco, Chris Jakubauskas, Jeff Karstens, Steven Jackson, Brad Lincoln, Anthony Claggett, Donnie Veal, Virgil Vasquez, Jack Taschner, Justin Thomas, and Bryan Morris. The pitchers each threw 35-40 pitches.

— GM Neal Huntington confirmed the Pirates are negotiating with outfielder Willy Garcia,17, who is one of the top amateur prospects in the Dominican Republic. But Huntington denied an Internet report that a deal, including a $280,000 bonus, already has been signed. “We’re optimistic we can get something done,” Huntington said. “He’s definitely a player we’re interested in.”

— It’s bad enough that Hanrahan can’t step onto the mound and throw a bullpen session, preparing to fill his role in the Pirates’ bullpen. But there’s another cruel twist to the elbow injury which stopped Hanrahan in his tracks just as spring training is getting started.

“My golf clubs are in storage in my garage right now,” Hanrahan said Thursday. “This is usually the time when I can get some golf in.”

Until doctors clear up what’s wrong with Hanrahan’s elbow — at the moment, the official diagnosis is a right flexor-pronator strain; Dr. James Andrews will take a crack at it next week — he won’t be doing anything strenuous with his right arm. That means no pitching, no weight lifting and no golf.

Someone (OK, it was me) suggested that Hanrahan try working as a caddy for Maholm, who by all accounts is a real demon with a driver.

“I’ll be a caddy,” Hanrahan said. “I can do that, especially for Paul. He’s got a little more money than some guys. Maybe he can tip me pretty good.”

Maholm is entering the second year of a $14.5 million contract. Hanrahan made $420,000 last season.

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