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Jeff Clement said his left knee is holding up well so far in drills in spring camp.

Jeff Clement said his left knee is holding up well so far in drills in spring camp.

BRADENTON, Fla. — When Jeff Clement re-signed with the Pirates last winter, GM Neal Huntington was up-front about Clement’s chances of making the team — which are very, very low. Clement is a grinder, a down-to-earth guy who hasn’t succumbed to injuries, blown chances and too-high expectations. Huntington appreciates that, and figured Clement deserved a second look from the Pirates. If it doesn’t work out with this organization, perhaps he’ll catch the eye of another team that could use him. “We’ve been very open with Jeff that this is a chance not only to re-establish himself with the Pirates, but also in the industry,” Huntington said. “This is a chance to get back on track. He looks really good. He’s healthy, he’s using the whole field again instead of trying to pull everything. He’s in a very good spot.”

Clement and Aaron Pribanic are the only players still with the Pirates from the 2009 trade that sent Jack Wilson and Ian Snell to Seattle. Pribanic, a right-hander, won 10 games last season with Double-A Altoona.

When I talked with Clement today, he made it clear he’s going into spring training with his eyes open. With his knee finally recovered from the microfracture surgery in September 2010, he’s willing to go back to Indy and earn another shot at the majors. “At this point, it’s about getting used to the daily grind again because it’s either a 162-game season (in the majors) or 144 days (in the minors),” Clement said. “It’s a matter of staying healthy. I know that if I stay healthy, I will be productive.”

You can read more about Clement’s comeback bid in Tuesday’s Trib.

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