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New-look batting order this year

BRADENTON, Fla. — At first glance., the Pirates’ batting order today might look a bit odd. Get used to it.

Manager John Russell revealed this morning that he plans to regularly bat the starting pitcher eighth, followed by shortstop Ronny Cedeno. Aki Iwamura will hit in the No. 1 spot, followed by Andrew McCutchen.

“It really seems to make a lot of sense, a way to get more guys in scoring position in front of Aki, Andrew, (Garrett) Jones and (Ryan) Doumit,” Russell said.

I’ll throw out a few numbers and take a closer look at the plan in tomorrow’s Trib.

Lineups for today’s game:

Astros — 1. Jeff Keppinger 2b, J.R. Towles c, 3. Hunter Pence rf, 4. Geoff Blum ss, 5. Jason Michaels cf, 6. Chris Johnson 3b, 7. Chris Shelton 1b, 8. Edwin Maysonet lf, 9. Gustavo Chacin lhp

Pirates — 1. Aki Iwamura 2b, 2. Andrew McCutchen cf, 3. Garrett Jones rf, 4. Ryan Doumit c, 5. Lastings Milledge lf, 6. Jeff Clement 1b, 7. Andy LaRoche 3b, 8. Paul Maholm lhp, 9. Bobby Crosby ss

– Cedeno, by the way, was scatched due to a sore back. He’s listed as day to day and told me he expects to be back in action tomorrow.

– Reliever Joel Hanrahan (elbow) will throw 2 innings/40 pitches tomorrow in a minor league game at Pirate City.

– D.J. Carrasco (3 innings/45 pitches), Brian Bass (2 innings) and Jeremy Powell (1 inning) will throw today at Pirate City. They were supposed to pitch yesteday against the Phillies, but the game was rained out.

– Tuesday, Charlie Morton (6-7 innings/95 pitches) will start against the Twins. Javier Lopez, Vinnie Chulk, Anthony Claggett and Jeff Karstens also are slated to pitch.

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