BRADENTON, Fla. — Here’s a quick update from the first day of spring training, as pitchers and catchers walk onto the fields for their opening workouts:
»»» Reliever Chris Resop (illness) and catcher Ramon Cabrera (missed flight connection) are the only players among those required to be here who will miss today’s session.
»»» Righty A.J. Burnett is in town to have a physical exam, but the trade is not expected to be officially announced until tomorrow morning. I’ve heard he will wear uniform No. 34.
»»» GM Neal Huntington met with reporters a few minutes ago. He declined to talk about Burnett specifically, but did allude to the upcoming addition to the starting rotation. “We always want to make sure we have depth. We’ll have some competition in spring training, and it’s always better to have too many starters than not enough starters.”
»»» Huntington said everyone arrived in good physical shape. The Pirates hired new trainers over the winter. “Guys have worked hard this offseason. When you make a transition with your strength and conditioning staff, you’re a little bit uneasy, but our guys have hit the ground running. They’ve gotten to know the players and worked hard to build relationships with them.”
»»» Could left field become a platoon with Alex Presley and Nate McLouth? “We’re going to give Alex every chance in the world to show us his last two years in the minor leagues and what he did when healthy at the major league level (was for real). He’s an exciting player. He can be that ‘second center fielder’ in left field and he can be dynamic at the top of the lineup. But, at the same time, we signed Nate with the idea that he’s going to get a lot of plate appearances. And the better Nate plays, the more he’s going to play.”
»»» Huntington: “There’s no doubt in our minds we’re ready to take a big step forward. How big will depend on how hard we work every day, every single inning, every single pitch.”
»»» Charlie Morton’s rehab “has gone about as well as we could’ve expected,” Huntington said, without elaborating. “We still have some hurdle’s to (clear). Charlie’s been off the mound. He will be out in PFP activity. Now, it’s just a matter of building up the arm properly.”
»»» Burnett’s arrival means that, if Morton is not ready until late April, Brad Lincoln will not be needed to make a spot start. The former first-round draft pick’s future is a bit clouded, though — it’s not far-fetched to view Lincoln as a future reliever. “If there’s an injury (to a starter) in spring training, we have complete confidence Brad is ready to step in,” Huntington said. “Our goal for Brad right now is to compete to make this club (as a starter). If that doesn’t happen, then we begin to address what happens next. Is it in the rotation or the bullpen? We still like Brad Lincoln as a starting pitcher, whether it’s this year or next year.”