Betemit or DeRosa may be backup 3B



DALLAS — The Pirates are inching closer signing a pair of veteran free agents, though neither deal is finalized. Outfielder Nate McLouth seems poised to return to Pittsburgh on what likely will be a one-year contract. The Pirates, according to team and industry sources, also are engaged in talks with infielders Wilson Betemit and Mark DeRosa, and are optimistic they can get one of them to agree to a contract. The Pirates will not sign both players.

Betemit, 30, a Type B free agent, was non-tendered after hitting .285 with a .795 OPS last season for the Royals (57 games) and Tigers (40 games). DeRosa, 36, appeared in 47 games for the Giants and batted .279 with a .653 OPS. Either would be a good backup plan at third base in case Pedro Alvarez remains stuck in his deep funk.

»»» An update on the minicamp situation: The new CBA does not include an outright ban on mincamps, but it does restrict who can attend one. As before, attendance by players is entirely voluntary. Now, clubs may only invite up to 15 players. Only those who on the 40-man roster and who are in their first three seasons of service time are eligible. And once an invitation is given, it’s gone even if the player turns it down. The Pirates will hold organizatonal meetings in Bradenton, Fla., around Jan. 6, 2012, and plan to invite eligible players for the informal workouts.