Morning briefing: Game 25 @ Orioles

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birdSARASOTA, Fla. — So, the Pirates offered Starling Marte a multi-year contract, but he didn’t find the numbers exactly to his liking. Both sides say they will continue to talk over a possible deal. Your thoughts? … This is the first game this spring the Pirates have not used a designated hitter. … Andrew Lambo was listed on the tentative traveling roster yesterday, but will not make the 20-minute trip from McKechnie Field. Continue reading Morning briefing: Game 25 @ Orioles

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Morning briefing: Game 24 v. Phillies

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The sun will burn this stuff off. Coffee will  help my mental fog.
The sun will burn this stuff off. As for my mental fog, that’ll require a cuppa coffee … or three.

BRADENTON, Fla. — There’s a thick layer of fog over McKechnie Field this morning. It’s appropriate, considering most everyone in the clubhouse today (including this trusty scribe) are in a bit of a mental fog due to the pre-dawn wakeup call following three straight night games. … It’s Charlie Morton‘s day to pitch, but Stolmy Pimentel will get the start against the Phightin’ Phils this afternoon. Morton will work (with a goal/limit of 100 pitches) in a minor league game today at Pirate City.

Continue reading Morning briefing: Game 24 v. Phillies

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Afternoon briefing: Game 23 v. Yankees

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The Boss is gone, but not forgotten.
The Boss is gone, but not forgotten.

TAMPA — The Pirates made a round of cuts this afternoon before making the bus ride to Evil Empire Stadium. Pitcher Phil Irwin and infielders Chris McGuiness and Brent Morel were optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. Infielder Chase d’Arnaud and relievers Josh Kinney, Yao-Sun Yang, Jake Brigham and Cody Eppley were reassigned to minor league camp. Continue reading Afternoon briefing: Game 23 v. Yankees

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George Springer said ‘No.’ Would Gregory Polanco say ‘Yes?’

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SOUTH HILLS – I’ve arrived back in Lebo. I’ve traded in June-like Pittsburgh weather for real-time Pittsburgh whether.  Bad deal on paper but, hey, it builds character, right? In the midst of scrolling through Twitter, while keeping an eye on Harvard-Cincinnati this afternoon, this Ken Rosenthal report caught my eye:

Continue reading George Springer said ‘No.’ Would Gregory Polanco say ‘Yes?’

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Morn … er, Afternoon briefing: Game 22 v. Orioles

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Situational infield defense drill before tonight's game against Orioles.
The sun was out for this infield defense drill before tonight’s game against Orioles.

BRADENTON, Fla. — Hey, it’s nice to be back in Florida after fighting to a draw (at best) against Old Man Winter the past week back home. … Tonight’s tilt will  mark the eighth night game at McKechnie Field and the fifth one here against the Orioles. … Travis Ishikawa has reached base in five of his past six games and is hitting .375 overall. … Starling Marte is riding a five-game hitting streatk. … Andrew McCutchen (who, you may recall is good at baseball) has 11 hits (including three homers) in his past 19 at-bats. He’s reached base in all nine of his games and is batting .560 (14 for 25) with two walks. … Francisco Liriano is scheduled to pitch five innings/85 pitches tonight against the Orioles. Also on the dance card are Vin Mazzaro (two innings), Bryan Morris (two innings) and Jay Jackson (one inning). … Jeff Locke (two innings/35 pitches) and Mark Melancon (two innings/35 pitchers) were slated to work in a “minigame” today. Continue reading Morn … er, Afternoon briefing: Game 22 v. Orioles

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Gaby as an everyday player (for now)? And what if Matheny improves?

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BRADENTON, Fla. –  Neal Huntington suggested on Sunday it remains possible the Pirates find a left-handed hitting complement for Gaby Sanchez. I don’t think Jose Tabata or Vin Mazzaro are going to be the pieces that accomplish that but stranger things have happened. The Boston Globe suggests Mike Carp is a target. I reported back in December the Pirates had some interest in Ike Davis, though Davis is sidelined with an injury at the moment likely delaying his move. The search continues. But it could continue until after Opening Day. So until then what should the Pirates do?

Continue reading Gaby as an everyday player (for now)? And what if Matheny improves?

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A trade or two might help shape active roster

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Jose Tabata
Jose Tabata

I’m set to fly back to Bradenton, Fla., tomorrow and hunker down for the final few days of spring training. Another round of cuts could happen Wednesday morning, as the Pirates inch closer to their 25-man active roster. In the meantime, I’ve heard from a couple of sources that the Pirates are letting teams know Jose Tabata, Vin Mazzaro and Travis Snider are available.

Continue reading A trade or two might help shape active roster

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See you soon, Gregory. See you in June.

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BRADENTON, Fla. – While the decision to option Gregory Polanco to Triple-A on Friday might have disappointed you  it should  not have come as a surprise. Pirates GM Neal Huntington essentially said at the winter meetings that there was no chance in heck Polanco would break camp with the team. You know how this works. Just ask Gerrit Cole, Wil Myers and countless others.

Continue reading See you soon, Gregory. See you in June.

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Gerrit Cole is diversifying his portfolio

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PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – If you remember back to Gerrit Cole‘s first few months in the big leagues he was often a one-pitch pitcher. In his first few starts, 80 percent of his pitches were fastballs. For the season, two thirds of his offerings were fastballs. Now, it was a heckuva one pitch – a 96 mph fastball – velocity by a starter that perhaps only Kansas City’s Yorando Ventura can exceed.

But no matter how hard you throw, it’s tough to miss bats with four-seam fastballs. And Cole was having a difficult time missing bats until he found velocity separation with a curveball in September.  Then he took off. He was so good he earned a Game 5 start in the NLDS as a rookie.

Continue reading Gerrit Cole is diversifying his portfolio

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