The State College Spikes want to fete former Penn State coach Joe Paterno with an event sometime during the 2012 season. The Spikes, whose stadium is on the Penn State campus, are the Pirates short-season Class A affiliate. After Paterno’s death on Sunday, Spikes GM Jason Dambach released this statement: “The State College Spikes join the entire State College and Penn State community in expressing our deepest sadness regarding the passing of coach Joe Paterno. We have treasured our friendship with the Paterno family and wish them comfort and strength as they grieve the loss of their beloved husband, father and grandfather. The Spikes plan to reach out to the Paterno family at an appropriate time in the near future to plan a fitting tribute to Coach Paterno during our upcoming 2012 season.”
»»» Pirates pitchers and catchers will hold their first workout in 27 days. The Grapefruit League slate begins March 3 against the Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla. If you’re heading south to spring training, you might want to take a day trip up to Orlando and see the exhibit “Beyond Baseball: The Life of Roberto Clemente” at the Orange County Regional History Center. The exhibit runs through March 18. Click this link for more info.
»»» Alex Dickerson ranked ninth on MLB.com’s list of the top 10 first basemen prospects. The ratings were compiled by my friend Jonathan Mayo, who knows his stuff. Dickerson, a lefty hitter, won the Big Ten triple crown at Indiana University and the Pirates like his potential to hit for a high average with a decent dose of power.
»»» The Pirates signed 27-year-old lefty Kris Johnson. He was the Red Sox’s first-round draft pick in 2006 and began last season at Triple-A Pawtucket. After he put up a 12.63 ERA in eight outings last year, Johnson was released by Boston and signed with the Kansas City T-Bones of the independent American Association. He went 6-3 with a 3.23 ERA in 16 starts for the T-Bones.
»»» Three former Pirates will play for NL Central clubs this summer: Chris Snyder signed with the Astros, Jason Jaramillo is with the Cubs and Ryan Ludwick hooked up with the Reds.
»»» Remember these guys? Brad “Big Country” Eldred got a minor league deal from the Tigers. Eldred hit 12 homers in 190 at-bats for the Pirates in 2005, but hasn’t played in the majors since 2010 when he got in 11 games for the Rockies. … The Mariners rolled the dice and signed enigmatic lefty Oliver Perez to a minor league deal. Perez, 30, spent last year with the Nats’ Double-A affiliate. … Virgil Vasquez, a free agent who pitched in 14 games for the Pirates in 2009, is trying to revive his career this winter by playing in Australia. Vasquez was in spring training with the Rays in 2010 when he broke both his wrists in a scooter accident and hasn’t sniffed the majors since.