Groundhog Day


BRADENTON, Fla. — “It’s Groundhog Day,” Donnie Veal said this morning, kibitzing at his locker with fellow pitcher Chris Jakubauskas. “It’s still only 8:30? I checked the clock an hour ago and it was 8:30.”

It did not take long for the mundane nature of spring training’s routine to sink in among the clubhouse denizens. Every day brings rounds of early-morning work in the batting cages and bullpens, stretching and running … followed by throwing, hitting, fielding, and more stretching and running. To the players, coaches, staff and reporters, every day feels like Tuesday.

Things will perk up a bit next week, when major league camp relocates to McKechnie Field and the Grapefruit League games begin. But even then, things will settle back into a bland routine after a few days.

— Brendan Donnelly will not throw batting practice Thursday, as originally scheduled, and will instead work in the bullpen. Donnelly made a few max-effort pitches Tuesday and his velocity seemed good, but his control was lacking.

— Joel Hanrahan got good news from his MRI exam, which showed the inflammation in his right elbow is subsiding. Hanrahan will be examined Thursday by Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla. If he gets a clean bill of health, Hanrahan hopes to begin throwing within two weeks.

— Chuck Tanner and Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski were at the first full-squad workout Tuesday, their first appearances of the spring at Pirate City. Tanner, who watched the drills from a motorized cart, is undergoing a minor medical procedure today and will miss the next couple of days. Mazeroski is out on the fields, hitting grounders and providing hands-on instruction.

— Yesterday, about 15 members of the Japanese media were on hand to film, interview and otherwise scrutinize second baseman Akinori Iwamura. The crowd was about half as large as the group which followed Masumi Kuwata here in 2007.

Iwamura was asked if he sees any similarities between the Pirates and the Tampa Bay Rays, who two years ago were in the World Series. “There’s a big possibility for this (Pirates) team to win a World Series,” Iwamura said through an interpreter. “Just like Tampa Bay, we have good coaches and good, young players.”

Iwamura’s translator, Toshi Nagahara, also serves as the assistant athletic trainer. Iwamura speaks some English, but is accompanied most places by Nagahara. When infield coach Carlos Garcia gathered the players on the field for a brief, pre-workout talk, Nagahara was beside Iwamura.

— Tyler Yates, on the mend from reconstructive elbow surgery, continues to do long toss. He expects to throw off a mound in four weeks. Yates, who lives in the offseason in Hawaii, had one major complaint about his post-surgery rehab: “It cost me a month of surfing time!”