BRADENTON, Fla. — All 66 players invited to big league camp are present and accounted for. The final cluster of position players checked in to Pirates City about a half-hour ago, and it looks as if everyone will participate in today’s workout.
Andrew McCutchen and Lastings Milledge arrived together, and the mood in the clubhouse immediately turned from sleepy to bubbly. The M&M Guys have a way of doing that. Amazing — McCutchen has only 123 days of big league experience, but it’s clear this is fast becoming his team.
Ryan Doumit and Brendan Donnelly are, to use Doumit’s term, the “crusty old veterans” in the clubhouse, and will be fountains of information and stability for the younger fellas. But the M&M Guys, along with Octavio Dotel, will be the team’s throbbing pulse. Should be a good mix.
– Ramon Vazquez came off the field after an early workout and said his surgically repaired right knee is feeling great. Vazquez is taking grounders hit straight at him and ran 80 percent-speed sprints on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Tuesday, he’ll try hitting live batting practice for the first time this spring.
– I’ve been asked if manager John Russell’s proclamation yesterday that he isn’t ready to name an Opening Day starter is a vote of no-confidence for Paul Maholm. I do not believe that to be the case. Russell thinks naming a starter now would be just another distraction.
Despite JR’s claims to the contrary, I’d gotta think he and Joe Kerrigan have a plan laid out for who pitches when this spring, and that obviously will impact who starts against the Dodgers on April 5 in Pittsburgh. If I had to lay a dollar on it today, I’d say either Maholm or Zach Duke, who’s coming off an All-Star season, will be on the mound.