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Warm up the buses

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The Pirates today released details of their annual winter caravan, which will visit 20 communities over Dec. 11-13. Included are stops at three of the club’s minor league affiliate towns: Altoona, Charleston, W.Va., and Jamestown, N.Y. Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker, Josh Harrison, Jared Hughes, Michael McKenry, Bryan Morris, Alex Presley, Gaby Sanchez, Jose Tabata and Justin Wilson all will be riding the buses. Some of the caravan events are private or invitation-only. Here’s a breakdown of the public appearances:

= Dec. 11: Allegheny General Hospital lobby, 3-4 p.m. (Presley, Sanchez); Ross Park Mall, 6-7:30 p.m. (Presley); South Hills Village, 6-7:30 p.m. (Harrison); Giannilli’s II, Latrobe, noon-1:30 p.m. (McKenry, Tabata); The Galleria of Johnstown, 6:30-8 p.m. (McKenry, Tabata).

= Dec. 12: Peoples Natural Gas Field, Altoona, 6:30-8 p.m. (McKenry, Tabata); Suncrest PNC Bank, Morgantown, W.Va., 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Walker, Morris, Alvarez); Fort Steuben Mall, Steubenville, Ohio, 6:30-8 p.m. (Walker, Morris, Alvarez); Cranberry Mall, 6:30-8 p.m. (Presley, Harrison, Sanchez); Butler Community College, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. (McCutchen, Hughes, Wilson); Indiana Mall, 6:30-8 p.m. (McCutchen, Hughes, Wilson).

= Dec. 13: Dubois Mall, 6:30-8 p.m. (McKenry, Tabata); Butler Art Institute, Youngstown, Ohio, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. (Walker, Morris, Alvarez); Uniontown Mall, 6-7:30 p.m. (Walker, Morris, Alvarez); Jamestown (N.Y.) Community College, 6:30-8 p.m. (Presley, Harrison, Sanchez); Ohio Valley Mall, Wheeling, W.Va., 6:30-8 p.m. (McCutchen, Hughes, Wilson).

»»» Absent from the list of players on the caravan: Joel Hanrahan, Garrett Jones, Jeff Karstens, James McDonald. Don’t necessarily read too much into that, though, as these guys might simply be getting a break. Hanrahan and McDonald participated in the past two caravans. Jones was on board in 2010 and ’11. Karstens did it last year.

»»» This will be McCutchen’s fourth straight year on the caravan and his fifth PirateFest.

»»» If I was the czar in charge of scheduling gameday promotions at PNC Park next season, I’d buy up every crate of Twinkies I could find and have a Twinkie giveaway day.

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