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Pregame: Walker and Maz

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BRADENTON, Fla. — A few days ago, I chatted for a while with Bill Mazeroski. (That never gets old.) The topic was Neil Walker, who turned into a pretty good second baseman last year despite having just 21 games experience in the minors at that spot. Maz used the word “remarkable” to describe Walker’s performance.

This morning, I bounced that off Walker — who, you might have heard, is a Pittsburgh native, so he’s in a bit of awe being around Maz. “When a Hall of Famer gives you praise, it’s very humbling,” Walker said. “I owe him a lot of credit for getting me to where I am now.”

More on this in tomorrow’s Trib.

»»» James McDonald will pitch the first four innings Friday against the Rays. He’ll be followed by Brian Burres (two innings), Dan Moskos, Justin Thomas and Chris Leroux (one each).

»»» Scott Olsen (35 pitches) and Joe Beimel (20 pitches) are slated to throw live batting practice tomorrow morning. Jose Ascanio will throw long toss and a bullpen session.

Lineups tonight’s game:

Orioles – 1. J.J. Hardy ss, 2, Adam Jones cf, 3. Mark Reynolds 3b, 4. Vladimir Guerrero dh, 5. Jake Fox lf, 6. Nolan Reimold rf, 7. Brandon Snyder 1b, 8. Craig Tatum c, 9. Ryan Adams 2b. RHP Brad Bergeson

Pirates – 1. Jose Tabata lf, 2. Matt Diaz rf, 3. Neil Walker 2b, 4. Lyle Overbay 1b, 5. Garrett Atkins 3b, 6. Ronny Cedeno ss, 7. Gorkys Hernandez cf, 8. Jason Jaramillo c, 9. Paul Maholm lhp

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