Postgame: Correia at the bat


BRADENTON, Fla. — I tried to nudge right-hander Kevin Correia into boasting he owns Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett. “I’m definitely not saying that,” Correia said, grinning.

Correia went 2 for 2, including a two-run single, in the Bucs’ 7-5 win against the Red Sox. Not bad for a career .126 hitter.

“I just got my bat on the ball,” Correia said. “I’ve played in the National League my whole career and I like hitting.”

Early in spring training, manager Clint Hurdle eschewed the DH and allowed his pitchers to hit.

“I think it’s a good idea,” Correia said. “When you look back over a season, you’d be surprised at how many times what a pitcher did at the plate was the difference in a big inning.”

»»» Lyle Overbay went 2 for 3, extending his hitting streak to 10 games. He has three homers and eight RBI in 14 games. … John Bowker mashed a two-run homer to left. It was his third homer in his last eight games. … Jason Jaramillo stretched his hitting streak to six games.

»»»Hurdle said either Correia or lefty Paul Maholm will start the season opener, but the decision has not yet been made.

»»» After the game, GM Neal Huntington was asked whether Joe Beimel’s new elbow soreness influenced the decision to claim lefty Garrett Olson off waivers. “No,” Huntington said. “The moves were independent.”

»»» Red Sox Nation was here in force, as usual, as a record crowd of 6,644 packed McKechnie Field for today’s game. That surpassed the 6,602 who were here March 13 to see the BoSox lose to the Bucs, 9-4.


In-game: Beimel has a setback


BRADENTON, Fla. — Suddenly, there is reason to doubt whether lefty reliever Joe Beimel will be ready for Opening Day.

Beimel was scratched from his scheduled outing today against the Red Sox. Via email, team spokesman Jim Trdinich described the injury as “discomfort in his left elbow.” The Pirates did not reveal the injury until about an hour after the game had begun. GM Neal Huntington turned down an interview request, saying “there is nothing much to speculate on nor discuss due to gray areas on the injuries” to Beimel and lefty Scott Olsen (hamstring).

A few minutes ago, after emerging from the trainer’s room, Beimel spoke about his status:

»»» On the injury: “It’s a little frustrating. It felt pretty good for quite a while. It felt good the other day when I threw. I came in yesterday and had a little soreness. It got more sore through the night, and we decided it’d be best not to push it too hard and go out there today and try to throw through it. I definitely don’t want to take any steps back and have something serious happen. I’m just going to rest today and tomorrow and see how it feels.”

»»» Has he been given a specific diagnosis from the team’s medical staff: “Not really. Not yet. It’s not the same spot that was hurting before. It’s a little different. I think they’re probably connected to each other. Yesterday, my bicep got tight. I went home and iced it a couple times. When I woke up this morning, it was a lot tighter.”

»»» Will he seek a second opinion from a private doctor: “Not yet. From what they’re saying and what they said a couple weeks ago, it’s not like it’s a ligament or anything. It has more to do with swelling, things like that.”

»»» Will he be ready for Opening Day: “I’m not sure what to say about that at this point. It’s definitely frustrating. I want to be out there pitching. But at the same time, I don’t want to push it too hard to get ready for Opening Day and have a setback and be out for a lot longer. It’s better to take care of it now and go from there.

»»» Beimel added that currently there are no tests scheduled for his injury. He said the only prescription so far is rest. “I’ve been icing and did three rounds of treatment to try to kick it out of there,” he said. “Hopefully, that will work and everything will be fine very shortly.”

»»» Baseball America ranked middle infielder Jodanel Carvajal among the top 20 prospects who played last year in either the Dominican or Venezuelan summer leagues. Last season, Carvajal, 20, hit .304 with 23 stolen bases. He led the DSL with 58 runs scored. He was signed in 2008

»»» I bumped into chief marketing officer Lou DiPaoli outside the pressbox. He told me season-ticket sales continue to run ahead of last year’s pace and he hopes to see growth of 5 percent or more. (When I pressed him for some actual digits of season-ticket holders, he smiled and of course declined.)

The Pirates are held a ticket sell-a-thon during today’s FSN broadcast of the game against the Red Sox. DiPaoli said ticket packages are an easier sell among folks who watch the spring games. (Makes sense.) The interleague series against the BoSox at PNC Park surely will net three sellouts and also should push a few full- and partial-season plans.

»»» Gotta give a big shout to the Penn State wrestling team, which is in the process of winning the NCAA tourney in Philly. Take that, Iowa! It’s the Nits’ second national crown this year (the women’s volleyball team won its fourth straight title in December) and the wrestling team’s first since 1953. Kudos, too, to the women’s hoops team for knocking off Dayton today in the first round of the NCAAs. As for the men’s team, well …


Pregame: Good news for Snyder


BRADENTON, Fla. — I talked a few minutes ago with catcher Chris Snyder, who’s in a buoyant mood. “Right now, there’s no pain,” said Snyder, who’s been out since March 10 due to a sore back. “Every day in the last three has been a positive progression.”

Snyder swung a bat this morning — 15 swings off a tee, 10 on flips. Sunday, he plans to strap on his gear and do fielding drills. His goals next week are to take batting practice Monday and play in a minor league game Tuesday.

Snyder is optimistic about starting the season in solid shape, as long as things go as planned. “If it was any later than early next week, that would be pushing it,” he said.

»»» Righty James McDonald (sore side) told me he did 50 throws of long toss today and will try a bullpen session Sunday. The Pirates, as usual, continue to be mum about the nature of McDonald’s injury and his timetable to return to game action.

»»» Left-hander Garrett Olson will throw a side session Sunday morning and is expected to pitch Monday against Minnesota at McKechnie Field. Olson was claimed off waivers Friday, and had been in camp with the Seattle Mariners in Arizona.


Pregame: Lincoln, lineups


BRADENTON, Fla. — Right-hander Brad Lincoln doesn’t expect to throw his regular bullpen session Sunday after being struck on the arm by a line drive in Friday’s game against the Phillies.

“It’s really stiff, worse than yesterday,” Lincoln said this morning. “My strength is still good, though. And there’s no structural damage.”

Lincoln was hit near his right elbow and the imprint of a baseball was clearly visible on his skin yesterday. Today, he’s wearing a protective sleeve.

»»» Charlie Morton is slated to pitch the first six innings Sunday against the Astros. Even Meek (one inning), Mike Crotta (one or two) and Chris Leroux (one or two) also will throw. … Joel Hanrahan will throw one inning Sunday in a Triple-A game at Pirate City. … Jose Ascanio will throw batting practice today at Pirate City.

Lineups for this afternoon’s game:

Red Sox – 1. Marco Scutaro ss, 2. Dustrin Pedroia 2b, 3. Jarrod Saltalamaccia, 4. Kevin Youkilis 3b, 5. Mike Cameron dh, 6. Darnell McDonald cf, 7. Daniel Nava lf, 8. Josh Reddick rf, 9. Nate Spears 1b. Josh Beckett, rhp.

Pirates – 1. Jose Tabata lf, 2. Neil Walker 2b, 3. Andrew McCutchen cf, 4. Lyle Overbay 1b, 5. Pedro Alvarez 3b, 6. Matt Diaz rf, 7. Ronny Cedeno ss. 8. Dusty Brown c, 9. Kevin Correia, rhp


In-game: Lincoln bruised by liner


CLEARWATER, Fla. – Righty Brad Lincoln left today’s game against the Phils due to a contusion near his right elbow, but he said the injury is not serious. Lincoln was struck by a line drive.

“It got all meat (muscle),” Lincoln said. “There was no bone-on-bone or anything like that, which is a good sign. It’s a little tight right now, so we’ll put some ice on it and re-evaluate it tomorrow. Right now, I feel OK to go about my business and do what I need to do. The real test will be how it feels tomorrow.”

Lincoln was smacked by Jimmy Rollins’ liner in the third inning. Lincoln fielded the ball and tagged Rollins out, but left the game after being checked on the field by trainer Brad Henderson. “(Rollins) was slowing down and asked me if I was all right before I even tagged him,” Lincoln said with a laugh.

Lincoln worked 2 2/3 innings and allowed one run on one hit. Michael Martinez walked to start the third, went to second on a sacrifice bunt and to third on Rollins’ play. After Lincoln left, reliever Chris Resop gave up an RBI double to Shane Victorino.

“The control issue was a factor today,” Lincoln said. “I never did get in a groove. My arm felt great; it was just that I couldn’t find it out there on the mound. But I was able to bounce back from 3-1 and 3-2 counts and get outs. I battled out there. I didn’t have my sharpest stuff, but I was able to get outs.”

The timing of the injury is not good for Lincoln, who is on the fringe of the battle for the No. 5 starter’s job.

“It’s bad timing, but it’s not like we’ve ruled out my next start already,” Lincoln said. “I’m not overly concerned about it right now.”

Today was Lincoln’s fourth outing (second start) this spring. In 10 2/3 innings, he allowed six hits, four runs and four walks and gotten five strikeouts. His ERA is 3.38.

Lincoln has been working on refining his changeup. Today, he used the pitch with mixed results.

“That’s actually what Rollins hit,” Lincoln said. “I threw it five or six times. A lot of times, it will help me get back on my fastball. With the elasticity of my fastball today, the changeup was one of those pitches to get me back in the zone.”


In-game: Olson claimed


GarrettOlsonCLEARWATER, Fla. – Neither Joe Beimel nor Scott Olsen has been very effective so far in spring training, so the Pirates today picked up another lefty reliever. They claimed four-year veteran Garrett Olson off waivers from the Seattle Mariners.

Olson, 27, played in five games this spring and had a 5.40 ERA. In his career, he has made 99 outings (44 starts) and has a 6.20 ERA.

Olson was the Orioles’ 48th-round draft pick in 2005 and made his big league debut in 2007.

On Jan. 18, 2009, Olson was traded to the Cubs for outfielder Felix Pie and a minor league pitcher. Ten days later, he and Ronny Cedeno were dealt to the Mariners for Aaron Heilman.

Olson will not be arbitration eligible until after the 2012 season.

Joe Beimel and Scott Olsen are the two main lefty candidates for spots in the bullpen, but both missed about a month of camp with injuries. Beimel was out with a sore forearm and Olsen had a strained left hamstring.

Beimel and Olsen each has made two outings this spring, and both pitchers have been hit hard. Olsen has given up five hits and four runs in 2 1/3 innings (15.43 ERA). Beimel has yielded seven hits and four runs in two innings (18.00 ERA).

»»» Righty Brad Lincoln left today’s game against the Phils due to a contusion on his right forearm. Lincoln was struck by Jimmy Rollins’ line drive in the third inning. Lincoln fielded the ball and tagged Rollins out, but left the game after being checked on the field by trainer Brad Henderson.


Pregame: Whither Doumit?

A future Tiger BoSox?
Future Tiger or BoSox?

BRADENTON, Fla. — There’s a big round of cuts on the horizon, probably early next week. The only thing difficult to predict is the makeup of the five bench spots. A lot depends on Ryan Doumit.

Doumit could be traded (to the Red Sox? to the Tigers? to the Twins?) in the next few days (hours?). He could stay on the roster as the backup catcher. He could stay on the roster as one of three catchers. It might not even be a wild stretch to think the Pirates simply release him and eat the money if they cannot do a deal.

Doumit is the only “regular” player in the lineup today against the Phils. It will be his first game action since recovering from a strained oblique. Can you say, “trade showcase?”

If Doumit is out of the picture, Jason Jaramillo may stick as the No. 2 catcher and John Bowker (who’s out of options) could stick as an extra outfielder. If Doumit stays, it might come down to either JJ or Bowker for the final bench spot.

If I was pressed today to predict the bench, I’d say: Garrett Jones, Pedro Ciriaco, Jaramillo, Bowker and Andy Marte. It’s a close call between Marte and Garrett Atkins.

»»» Brad Lincoln will make his fourth outing, but just his second start, today against the Phillies. The right-hander comes into the game with a 3.38 ERA (3 ER in 8.0 IP). Of the 30 batters he’s faced, seven have reached base (five hits, two walks).

Lincoln most likely is ticketed for Triple-A Indy to start the season. Unless he struggles there, it’s a good bet he’ll get a callup if there’s an injury to another starter or if/when Paul Maholm is traded (as I’m assuming he will be eventually).

»»» Righty Kevin Correia is scheduled to pitch the first six innings Friday against the Red Sox. He’ll be followed by Joel Hanrahan (one inning), Joe Beimel (one inning), Fernando Nieve (one or two) and Justin Thomas (one or two). Josh Beckett will start for Boston.

Lineups for this afternoon’s game:

Pirates – 1. Corey Wimberly cf, 2. John Bowker lf, 3. Steve Peace rf, 4. Ryan Doumit c, 5. Garrett Atkins 3b, 6. Andy Marte 1b, 7. Josh Rodriguez 2b, 8. Pedro Ciriaco ss, 9. Brad Lincoln rhp.

Phillies – 1. Jimmy Rollins ss, 2. Shane Victorino cf, 3. Raul Ibanez lf, 4. Ryan Howard 1b, 5. Ross Gload rf, 6. Pete Orr 3b, 7. Carlos Ruiz c, 8. Michael Martinez 2b, 9. Roy Oswalt rhp.


Postgame: Doumit’s back


BRADENTON, Fla. — Ryan Doumit is scheduled to play Friday against the Phillies. It will be the first Grapefruit League game since March 8 for Doumit, who’s been out with a strained oblique.

In a minor league game today at Pirate City, Doumit went 3 for 4, including a double and a homer. “We just needed him to see pitches and make sure he’s getting his swing off with no hesitation,” manager Clint Hurdle said.

»»» Here’s the list of starters (no positions are available yet) for Friday’s game against the Phils: Corey Wimberly, John Bowker, Steve Pearce, Andy Marte, Doumit, Garrett Atkins, Josh Rodriguez and Pedro Ciriaco. It sure looks like that game will be geared toward giving the guys on the bubble a (final?) chance to show what they can do before the next round of cuts.

»»» Scott Olsen might be running out of time to stay in the mix for the No. 5 starter job. This afternoon, Olsen pitched 1 1/3 innings against the Orioles and gave up three runs on three hits. He walked three and struck out one. It was his second outing of the spring after being out for a month with a strained hamstring.

There’s only two weeks of spring training left, which means Olsen probably can’t get stretched out enough to start by Opening Day. Hurdle was asked if Olsen is still in the hunt for the rotation.

“I don’t know,” Hurdle said. “He very well may be. I can’t say no. I’ll leave the speculation out there for people who want to speculate. We’ll give him the ball again and see where he takes it.”


In-game: Gold blanks Black

Members of the Crewe from the Hernando DeSoto Historical Society are at McKechnie Field today to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. REO Speedwagon also is in the house.
Members of the Crewe from the Hernando DeSoto Historical Society are at McKechnie Field today to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. REO Speedwagon also is in the house.

BRADENTON, Fla. — Brian Burres threw four scoreless innings and Jeff Karstens threw three scoreless frames this morning in a “B” game at minor league camp.

Pitching for the Black team, Burres gave up two hits, walked two and struck out five. The Gold team was made up mostly of players from major league camp.

“It went well,” Burres said. “I felt good and got my pitch count up. I had good control and got the four-seamer working both sides of the plate, trying to get ahead of hitters early.”

The Black team consisted mostly of players from the Pirates’ Latin American farm teams. Pitching for Gold, Karstens walked one and struck out six.

“That’s a change for me,” Karstens said of his high K total. “Against some of the young guys it’s a little bit easier (to get strikeouts) because their approach is different than when you come over here and guys have an idea what they’re trying to do. I tried to come in with some fastballs after the first inning. I made some mistakes and got away with them. I made some good pitches. It’s a positive that I was able to get ahead. It was nice to be able to throw more than two innings.”

The Gold team won, 3-0. Tyler Yates gave up three runs on five hits in two innings.

Mr. Super Utility Pedro Ciriaco started in center field for the Gold and recorded two fly ball putouts. Steve Pearce doubled twice and drove in a run. Pearce started at third base and fielded two chances.

»»» Right-hander Brad Lincoln will pitch the first four innings Friday against the Phillies. He’ll be followed by Chris Resop, Jose Veras, Mike Crotta and Chris Leroux (one or two innings apiece).


Pregame: Doumit steps up to plate


BRADENTON, Fla. — Instead of playing in the intrasquad game this morning at Pirate City, Ryan Doumit (strained oblique) will get at-bats in regular, minor league games in the afternoon. Doumit will lead off every inning, which will give him more at-bats than he would’ve gotten in the camp game.

Lineups for this afternoon’s game:

Orioles – 1. Felix Pie cf, 2. J.J. Hardy ss, 3. Nolan Reimold lf, 4. Matt Wieters dh, 5. Jake Fox c, 6. Randy Winn rf, 7. Brendan Harris 2b, 8. Josh Bell 3b, 9. Brandon Snyder 1b. Chris Tillman, rhp.

Pirates – 1. Jose Tabata lf, 2. Neil Walker 2b, 3. Andrew McCutchen cf, 4. Pedro Alvarez 3b, 5. Lyle Overbay 1b, 6. Matt Diaz rf, 7. Ronny Cedeno ss. 8. Jason Jaramillo c, 9. Ross Ohlendorf, rhp.