BRADENTON, Fla. — Nate McLouth reached base twice today, but each time was thrown out trying to steal second. Manager Clint Hurdle isn’t concerned, though — McLouth was the victim of a blown call by the umpire on one attempt and the other came on a pitch-out — and said the Pirates will continue to be aggressive on the bases. “We’re going to run,” Hurdle said. “I’m very happy with our effort on the bases. We didn’t try to steal third base one time as a ballclub last year, which is mind-boggling to me. I can understand you don’t want to give up outs, but the opportunities are there. (Alex Presley) went the other day and was out. When he looked at the tape, the first thing he said was, ‘I could’ve gotten a bigger lead.’ We’re going to try to push the envelope and maximize our leads, get really good secondary leads. Everybody can become a better baserunner. It’s on everybody to improve.”
»»» Lefty Erik Bedard looked sharp today in the 4-2 loss to the Twins: three innings, 30 pitches, one hit and three strikeouts. “He had good command of his fastball and he spun the ball extremely well, which made his fastball look even quicker,” Hurdle said.
»»» A.J. Burnett is back in camp after having surgery in Pittsburgh to repair his shattered orbital bone. Burnett found at least some upside to his situation: “My wife did a little (apartment) hunting the day after my surgery. And I got to see my oldest (son’s) birthday for the first time in 10 years, so things happen for a reason.”
»»» You’ve probably seen the photo-shopped pictures on the Internet of Burnett wearing a pirate-style eye patch. He’s aware of them, but said he hasn’t seen them. “I don’t do Facebook. I don’t do Twitter. I’m a grown-up,” Burnett said. “But I think it’s great. If you can’t laugh at yourself about certain things, then you’ve got problems.”
»»» The Pirates are hitting .310 as a team. Today was the sixth game in a row they’ve collected at least 10 hits. “It’s nice to see,” Hurdle said. “Our at-bats are better throughout the lineup. We’ve had more two-strike hits. We’re putting balls in play and getting down the lines. We believe it will catch on.”
»»» Ryan Doumit did make the trip here today. But he recently told my pal Chip Scoggins of the Star-Tribune that “it was time for a change of scenery,” so he signed with the Twins.
»»» The Pirates’ lineup for Sunday’s game against the Rays: 1. Alex Presley lf, 2. Jose Tabata rf, 3. Andrew McCutchen cf, 4. Neil Walker 2b, 5. Garrett Jones 1b, 6. Rod Barajas c, 7. Pedro Alvarez 3b, 8. Clint Barmes ss, 9. Kevin Correia rhp
Also scheduled to pitch for the Pirates: Justin Wilson, Daniel Moskos, Doug Slaten, Jared Hughes and Bryan Morris.