Pirates A.M. — Righty works to stay Kuhl under fire

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By Rob Biertempfel

KuhlTagCLEARWATER, Fla. — A year ago, Chad Kuhl was one of the new guys in the clubhouse, a rookie trying to fit in. “This spring has been a ton different, just from knowing everybody and knowing my place in the locker room and the expectations,” Kuhl said. “I’m definitely a lot more comfortable, just going about my day and doing the things I need to accomplish.”

The Pirates have not yet officially said Kuhl is in the rotation, but GM Neal Huntington and manager Clint Hurdle have referred to four specific guys — Trevor Williams, Tyler Glasnow, Drew Hutchison and Steven Brault — competing for the final starter’s job. So, essentially, Kuhl is in.

After a solid rookie season, what does Kuhl have planned for an encore in 2017? “Go out and do the same things I’ve been doing,” he said. “I think I’ve progressed, even from last year into this year. The encore is to go a full season, a full, strong, healthy season.”

>>> You want links? I’ve got links:

Kuhl says, “I think people have kind of figured out that I’m a little fiery when I pitch.”

Notebook … in which Glasnow learns, Polanco sits and Stewie hopes

Pirates 5, Tigers 4: Late home runs power comeback win.

>>> Sunday’s game: Pirates at Phillies, 1:05 p.m., Spectrum Field, Clearwater. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates: Jordy Mercer 6, Josh Bell 3, David Freese 5, John Jaso 9, Jose Osuna 7, Austin Meadows 8, Gift Ngoepe 4, Jackson Williams 2, RHP Josh Lindblom 1. Also pitching for Pirates: LH Wade LeBlanc, RH A.J, Schugel, RH Jared Hughes. Also: RHP Jameson Taillon will throw 100 pitches in a minor league game at 1 p..m. at Pirate City.

UPDATE 8:01 a.m. — Francisco Cervelli was a healthy scratch from the lineup this morning.

Phillies. Jesmuel Valentin 4, Howie Kendrick 7, Odubel Herrera 8, Maikel Franco 5, Michael Saunders 9, Daniel Nava 3, Andrew Knapp 2, Freddy Galvis 6, RHP Clay Buchholz. Also pitching for Phillies: RH Hector Neris, RH Luis Garcia, RH Joaquin Benoit

>>> Monday’s game: Twins at Pirates, 6:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Twins: Lineup TBA. RHP Phil Hughes. Also pitching for Twins: LH Buddy Boshers, RH Michael Tonkin, RH J.T. Chargois. Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Ivan Nova. Also pitching for Pirates: LH Felipe Rivero, LH Tyler Webb Also: RHP Chad Kuhl (100 pitches) and  LHP Antonio Bastardo (one inning/15 pitches) will pitch in a minor league game at 1 p.m. at Pirate City.

>>> Tuesday’s game: Red Sox at Pirates, 6:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Red Sox: Lineup TBA. Also pitching for Red Sox: TBA. Pirates: Lineup TBA. Also pitching for Pirates: TBA.

>>> Wednesday’s game: Phillies (split squad) at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. TV: Root. Phillies: Lineup TBA. Also pitching for Phillies: TBA. Pirates: Lineup TBA. Also pitching for Pirates: TBA.

>>> Thursday: Off day

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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Pirates A.M. — They’re (not quite) baaaack!

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By Rob Biertempfel/Photo by Christopher Horner

DreamOutfieldUPDATED 10:53 a.m. – BRADENTON, Fla. —  For just the third time this spring, the entire Dream Outfield — Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco — will be in the lineup on Saturday.  ….  Most of the Dream Outfield will be in the lineup today. LF Gregory Polanco was scratched a few minutes ago to do what what club is calling left shoulder discomfort.

UPDATE 12:12 p.m. – Reporters were waiting for Polanco to exit an outfielders meeting, but he cut down a hallway without speaking. No further word on when/how he was injured. I did not see him on the field at the end of batting practice.  I was not out there for the start of BP, so I can’t say for sure he was on the field then.

RF Andrew McCuchen and CF Starling Marte will start against the Tigers. The World Baseball Classic split up the trio and kept them out of Pirates camp for a couple of weeks.

“I was excited … just to say, man, we got our whole starting outfield starting in the WBC,” McCutchen said. “I think that was pretty cool. I don’t think there was any (other MLB team) where you have three (starters) in the outfield in the WBC. That was really cool. You get a sense of pride to see us out there performing and doing well.


McCutchen and Harrison appreciated the chance to play for manager Jim Leyland on Team USA.

McCutchen said he joined Team USA already aware of Leyland’s success in the majors, including his time as the Pirates’ manager. “It was awesome to be managed by him. He let me go out there and do my thing. All he wanted from us was just wanting to win the game. Whatever it takes, whatever we’ve got to do to prepare, whatever we’ve got to do to get ready, you go and get ready and go out there and play hard. It was huge to hear the things that he had to say to us. Some stuff stuck. It was cool for him to manage us.”

Harrison was struck by Leyland’s pregame demeanor. “I like Jim a lot. Old-school guy. He’s not a guy who gave a rah-rah speech; it was just, ‘Hey, go play. If I need to motivate you, you’re in the wrong place or doing the wrong thing.’ That was something I like to hear. We don’t need any extra motivation. We play this game because we love it.”

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle doesn’t expect the time missed in camp will affect his three outfielders, who have switched spots this year. “I don’t have any concerns about that,” Hurdle said. “There are some nuances they’ll be able to work on. It’s out of hands. There was nothing we could do about (the WBC), so there was no reason to stress about it. Now, we’ve got them back. We’ll get them plugged in together as often as we can and go from there.”

>>> UPDATE 11:39 a.m. – Chris Stewart had an MRI last night after tweaking his left groin while running to first base in the seventh inning. Doctors have advised treatment and his status is day to day.  “It’s been than expected,” Stewart said. “I didn’t feel too bad yesterday. I definitely felt a grab as I was running to first base and must have shut it down early enough to not do any more damage.”  It’s uncertain if Stewart will be ready for opening day.

SunriseWawa2017

>>> Here’s a shot of a pretty sunrise over WaWa this morning to look at as you ponder my  links:

Jung Ho Kang remains in work visa limbo, creating at least the possibility he will not play for the Pirates this season

Notebook … in which Cutch and J-Hay return, Trevor Williams looks sharp and Stewie feels some discomfort.

Pirates 4, Rays 0: A demo of really poor defense by the Rays.

>>> Saturday’s game: Tigers at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. TV: Root

Tigers: Andrew Romine 8, Tyler Collins 9, Mikie Mahtook 7, Alex Avila 3, James McCann 2, Dominic Ficociello 5, JaCoby Jones DH, Dixon Machado 6, Brendan Ryan 4. RHP Anibal Sanchez. Also pitching for Tigers: LH Daniel Stumpf, RH Mark Lowe, LH Kyle Ryan.

Pirates (updated roster): Adam Frazier 6, Josh Harrison 4, Andrew McCutchen 9, Gregory Polanco Jose Osuna 7, Starling Marte 8, Francisco Cervelli 2, John Jaso 3, Phil Gosselin 5, RHP Tyler Glasnow 1. Also pitching for Pirates: LH Steven Brault, RH Jared Hughes.

>>> RHP Juan Nicasio, LHP Tony Watson and RHP Daniel Hudson each are scheduled to work one inning (15 pitches) today in a minor league game at Pirate City.

>>> Sunday’s game: Pirates at Phillies, 1:05 p.m., Spectrum Field, Clearwater. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Josh Lindblom. Also pitching for Pirates: LH Wade LeBlanc, RH A.J, Schugel, RH Jared Hughes. Phillies. Lineup TBA. RHP Clay Buchholz. Also pitching for Phillies: RH Hector Neris, RH Luis Garcia, RH Joaquin Benoit

>>> Monday’s game: Twins at Pirates, 6:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Twins: Lineup TBA. RHP Phil Hughes. Also pitching for Twins: LH Buddy Boshers, RH Michael Tonkin, RH J.T. Chargois. Pirates: Lineup TBA. Also pitching for Pirates: TBA.

>>> Tuesday’s game: Red Sox at Pirates, 6:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Red Sox: Lineup TBA. Also pitching for Red Sox: TBA. Pirates: Lineup TBA. Also pitching for Pirates: TBA.

>>> Wednesday’s game: Phillies (split squad) at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. TV: Root. Phillies: Lineup TBA. Also pitching for Phillies: TBA. Pirates: Lineup TBA. Also pitching for Pirates: TBA.

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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Pirates A.M. — Cutch, J-Hay return. Kang? Well …

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By Rob Biertempfel

CutchMedalBRADENTON, Fla. — Andrew McCutchen came back from the World Baseball Classic with a gold medal … and a case of laryngitis. “I’m a little hoarse,” McCutchen said. “It was a heck of a lot of fun. So much that I lost my voice.” 

Josh Harrison also was in the clubhouse this morning. Like McCutchen, Harrison wore his gold medal from the tournament. “It was exciting. My first time in international play. Just the environment with the crowds was something. We’re used to noise, but not with a band playing the whole time. I liked it. It was an experience I won’t forget.”

Kang head shot>>> UPDATE 10:09 a.m. — According to Korean media reports, Jung Ho Kang application for a work visa was denied, which jeopardizes his chances of playing for the Pirates this season.

On March 3, Kang was convicted for driving under the influence in a Dec. 2 incident near Seoul and received a eight-month jail term. Although Kang’s prison sentence was suspended, it hampers his chances of being approved for a work visa.

Naver Sports reported on Friday morning that Kang’s visa request was not approved.

Kang has appealed his sentence in hopes of receiving a lighter penalty that could aid his chances of getting a work visa. A decision is expected within the next few weeks, according to The Korea Times.

The Pirates did not immediately respond to a request for a statement on Kang’s status. Manager Clint Hurdle was asked about Kang during an interview with MLB Network Radio. “Your information is about the same as what I’ve got,” Hurdle said. “We are staying in contact with Jung Ho and in contract with his interpreter. We’re focusing on the men we have here. That’s the best I can tell you. We’d love to have him back (but) we don’t have him back. We’re going to adapt and continue to pull … (and see) if this can come to some type of conclusion that’s profitable for both sides down the road.”

This was Kang’s third DUI conviction in South Korea. He also was under investigation by Chicago police for an alleged sexual assault incident last June.

Kang signed a four-year, $11 million contract with the Pirates in January 2015. Because he is under contract, Kang cannot play for another team in South Korea without permission from the Pirates.

>>> You want links? I’ve got links:

Opening day bench, backup situation at shortstop coming into focus.

Notebook … in which Marte plays through pain, Hutchison absorbs some hits, and the GM offers some thoughts.

Red Sox 10, Pirates 7 … Marte hit a slam. As for the pitching, avert your eyes. 

>>> Friday’s game: Rays at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. TV: Root.

Rays: Logan Morrison 3, Daniel Robertson 6, Chris Dickerson 7, Brad Miller 4, Curt Casali 2, Mallex Smith 8, Michael McKenry DH, Shane Peterson 9, Alec Sole 5 RHP Erasmo Ramirez. Also pitching for Rays: RH Diego Moreno, RH Danny Farquhar, RH Ryan Garton, RH Neil Wagner.

Pirates: Adam Frazier 7, Jordy Mercer 6, John Jaso 9, David Freese 5, Josh Bell 3, Phil Gosselin 4, Austin Meadows 8, Chris Stewart 2, RHP Trevor Williams 1. Also pitching for Pirates: LH Tony Watson, RH Daniel Hudson, LH Felipe Rivero, RH Juan Nicaso

>>> Saturday’s game: Tigers at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. TV: Root. Tigers: Lineup TBA. RHP Anibal Sanchez. Also pitching for Tigers: LH Daniel Stumpf, RH Mark Lowe, LH Kyle Ryan Pirates: TBA. RHP Tyler Glasnow. Also pitching for Pirates: LH Steven Brault, RH Jared Hughes

>>> Sunday’s game: Pirates at Phillies, 1:05 p.m., Spectrum Field, Clearwater. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: Lineup TBA. Also pitching for Pirates: TBA. Phillies. Lineup TBA. RHP Clay Buchholz. Also pitching for Phillies: RH Hector Neris, RH Luis Garcia, RH Joaquin Benoit

>>> Monday’s game: Twins at Pirates, 6:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM Twins: Lineup TBA. RHP Phil Hughes. Also pitching for Twins: LH Buddy Boshers, RH Michael Tonkin, RH J.T. Chargois. Pirates: Lineup TBA. Also pitching for Pirates: TBA.

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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Pirates A.M. — Reading tea leaves

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Story: Rob Biertempfel/Photos: Christopher Horner

Cole12sept14BRADENTON, Fla. — Keep an eye on the pitching assignments and performances the next few days. There will be signals — some being only small and some will end up as false flags — about the shape of the opening day rotation. Drew Hutchison starts today v the Red Sox. Tomorrow, Gerrit Cole will throw up to 100 pitches in a minor league game at Pirate City and Trevor Williams will start v the Rays at BFKMF.

>>> The Pirates made nine cuts this morning: Elias Diaz and Max Moroff were optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. Brandon Cumpton, Eury Perez, Dan Runzler, Jason Stoffel, Edgar Santana, Eric Wood and Joey Terdoslavich were reassigned to minor league camp.

>>> UPDATE 12:12 p.m. -- Cumpton will begin the season in extended spring training before going to Indy, according to head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk. Cumpton is coming back from  surgeries on his elbow and shoulder. “He’s still on the mound progression, so he’s in a good spot,” Tomczyk said. “He’s responded well to the bullpens, both with his shoulder and his elbow. Once the mound progression ceases, we’ll go to live BP and then into games. Not looking too far ahead, I don’t see him getting out at the beginning of the season, but the goal is to get him out at some point this season.”

>>> UPDATE 12:16 p.m. — Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison are flying back to Florida today after playing for Team USA in the WBC.  They’ll probably check into camp on Friday, but might not play in games right away.  McCutchen got 21 at-bats over six games. Harrison went 0 for 5 in two games. “They’ll come in at, I would imagine, very different timeframes, in terms of where they go,” GM Neal Huntington said. “There’s been some conversation about Josh getting a ton of at-bats at Pirate City right away, or does he want to get out and see major league-speed games? We’ll work through that with them.”

>>> Jung Ho Kang still does not have a work visa. When is it safe to assume we’re at the point where there’s no way Kang could be ready for opening day? “We’re pretty much there,” Huntington said.

>>> You want links? I’ve got … um, one link for ya:

“It could be one look, one smile, whatever. For me, that’s what I want. It means everything is going the right way.”

>>> Gregory Polanco was named to the All-World Baseball Classic team. He batted 11 for 19 (.579) in the tourney.

>>> The Pirates’ .296 team batting average is tops in the Grapefruit League and third among big league teams behind the Brewers (.303) and Mariners (.299).

>>> Alen Hanson has 14 hits in his past 32 at-bats.

>>> Thursday’s game: Pirates at Red Sox, 1:05 p.m., JetBlue Park at Fenway South, Fort Myers. Webcast: pirates.com

Pirates: Jordy Mercer 6, Starling Marte 8, Gregory Polanco 7, David Freese 5, Francisco Cervelli 2, Jose Osuna 9, Josh Bell 3, Allen Hanson 4, RHP Drew Hutchison 1. Also pitching for Pirates: LH Ty Webb, RH Jared Hughes

Red Sox: Dustin Pedroia 4, Andrew Benintendi 7, Mookie Betts 9, Hanley Ramirez DH, Mitch Moreland 3, Xander Bogarts 6, Jackie Bradley Jr. 8, Pablo Sandoval 5, Blake Swihart 2.  RHP Steven Wright. Also pitching for Red Sox: RH Craig Kimbrel, LH Robbie Ross Jr., RH Heath Hembree, LH Robby Scott, RH Noe Ramirez, LH Edgar Olmos

>>> Friday’s game: Rays at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. TV: Root. Rays: Lineup TBA. RHP Diego Moreno. Also pitching for Rays: RH Danny Farquhar, RH Ryan Garton, RH Neil Wagner, RH Erasmo Ramirez. Pirates: RHP Trevor Williams. Also pitching for Pirates: TBA

>>> Saturday’s game: Tigers at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. TV: Root. Tigers: Lineup TBA. Also pitching for Tigers: TBA. Pirates: TBA. Also pitching for Pirates: TBA

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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Pirates A.M. — Osuna or later, he’ll be in majors

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Story: Rob Biertempfel/Photos: Christopher Horner

OsunaOFBRADENTON, Fla. — Every year, it seems, there’s a guy who’s on the fringes of the battle for an opening day roster spot who becomes a cause celebre by putting up big numbers in spring training. Caution: Michael Morse hit .389 last spring. Tony Sanchez knocked four homers in 2015. Matt Hague batted .364 in 2013 and .400 in 2012. In 2007, my first year as the full-time guy on this beat, Ronny Paulino mashed four homers and hit .481 with a 1.315 OPS.

Jose Osuna is a legit prospect — maybe not a top 10 guy, but someone who you could someday expect to see in the majors. Over 16 games this spring, he is batting .436 — the second-best average in the majors — with five homers and 14 RBI. Is that enough to earn a bench job on opening day?

“I think I have a chance,” Osuna said before yesterday’s game. “I think I can do a better job. If I play good at each position, I have a better chance of playing in the big leagues. But if I don’t make it, I’ll go to Triple-A, work hard and wait for the opportunity.”

Osuna admits his weakness is defense. He is a decent defender at first base. During winter ball in Venezuela, he played exclusively at third. “I have to get work in,” Osuna said. “Sometimes, it’s hard for me because my (natural) position is first. I can play third, too. I was the first two weeks of the spring taking (ground balls) just at third. Last week, I worked there two times (on backfields).”

He’s also getting some time this spring in left field. Yesterday, he got turned around on a ball, which landed a foot or so behind him. Yes, there is a lot of work for him to do, but keep in mind the wind at BFKMF often is treacherous.

So where does this leave him? Osuna, 24, and a right-handed hitter. He’s stolen 41 bases in the minors, but 18 of them came in 2013 at High-A Bradenton. Last season, he played 70 games at Double-A Altoona and 63 at Triple-A Indianapolis. My educated guess is he opens this season back at Indy. Yinz appear to agree.

>>> You want links? I’ve got links:

Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte are back from the WBC. Both will be in the lineup tomorrow.

Notebook … in which John Jaso gets some “me time” (but no action) at third base and Adam Frazier keeps slugging.

Pirates 5, Rays 4. Pirates get slide-off win and improve to 4-0 v. Rays this spring

>>> Wednesday: Off day.

>>> Thursday’s game: Pirates at Red Sox, 1:05 p.m., JetBlue Park at Fenway South, Fort Myers. Webcast: pirates.com

Pirates: Jordy Mercer 6, Starling Marte 8, Gregory Polanco 7, David Freese 5, Francisco Cervelli 2, Jose Osuna 9, Josh Bell 3, Alen Hanson 4, RHP Drew Hutchison 1. Also pitching for Pirates: TBA

Red Sox: Lineup TBA. RHP Steven Wright. Also pitching for Red Sox: RH Craig Kimbrel, LH Robbie Ross Jr., RH Heath Hembree, LH Robby Scott, RH Noe Ramirez, LH Edgar Olmos

>>> Friday’s game: Rays at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. TV: Root. Rays: Lineup TBA. RHP Diego Moreno. Also pitching for Rays: RH Danny Farquhar, RH Ryan Garton, RH Neil Wagner, RH Erasmo Ramirez Pirates: TBA. Also pitching for Pirates: TBA.

>>> Saturday’s game: Tigers at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. TV: Root. Tigers: Lineup TBA. Also pitching for Tigers: TBA. Pirates: TBA. Also pitching for Pirates: TBA

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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Pirates A.M. — Bored in RF? Try the hot corner

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By Rob Biertempfel/Photos by Christopher Horner

JasoST2017BRADENTON, Fla. — John Jaso will make his debut at third base today against the Rays. He’ll probably enjoy that spot more than right field. “It’s a little more boring out there (in the outfield), I’ll say that,” Jaso said. “It’s kind of cool being close to the action at first base. Catcher was never a boring position. You just keep your head in the game. This game is all about taking your focus away, then concentrating it little bits at a time.”

>>> The players held a team-building exercise this morning on the backfield at LECOM Park. It was a paintball-style game where teams had to advance on an obstacle course that featured screens, a inflatable yellow duck and a giant pink flamingo. Players also used some sort of giant Patrick (from SpongeBob) thing for cover.

>>> Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte are back in camp today after playing in the WBC.

>>> Adam Frazier leads the Grapefruit League with a .450 batting average and 18 hits. He’s reached base safely in eight straight games and has produced 15 hits in his past 26 at-bats. “I feel like I’m putting some good swings on some balls and not really chasing a lot of pitches,” Frazier said. “If you can stay within the zone and make the pitcher come into that zone, it helps. Hopefully, I can stay in this spot. That’s what it’s all about. I feel good and hope I can continue it.”

After going 3 for 4 yesterday, Frazier is in the lineup again today. It’s his 13th time in the leadoff spot. He’s batted in that spot throughout his career and likes the challenge. “I just want to be a tough out,” Frazier said. “If a guy gives you one early, then take it. The situation of the game dictates that. Sometimes, I like going for that first pitch. If you do it too much, it starts becoming a habit and that might change things. Just keep it simple and whatever happens, happens.”

>>> RHP Chad Kuhl will be on the mound today for the big grudge match against the Rays. Although the Pirates have not yet come out and said it, Kuhl has clinched the No. 4 spot in the rotation. “We love the energy and athleticism on the mound,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “His changeup plays. He had sequences when his breaking ball played extremely well. The comfort level he comes in with now is extremely different. He’s pitched in Dodger Stadium. He’s pitched against (Clayton) Kershaw in a Sunday night ESPN game. Those are things that are real and are going to add to his overall baseball IQ.”

>>> RHP Ivan Nova will pitch today in a minor league game at Pirate City. He’s set for 100 pitches.

>>> In case you missed yesterday’s Twitter poll question …

>>> You want links? I’ve got links:

Ray Searage has a simple pitching philosophy: “It’s all about being the aggressor. It’s about pounding the zone, even when you’re ahead.”

Notebook … In which Osuna keeps slugging, Taillon hangs tough and a few fellas leave for minor league camp.

Pirates 5, Rays 4 … The Pirates won the game, but Kevin Kiermaier was the day’s biggest winner.

Here’s some good info from my friend Marc Topkin about Kiermairer’s new contract

>>> Tuesday’s game: Rays at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Rays: Mallex Smith 8, Rickie Weeks DH, Steven Souza 9, Casey Gillaspie 3, Jake Bauers 7, Nick Franklin 4, Curt Casali 2, Daniel Robertson 6, Patrick Leonard 5. RHP Alex Cobb. Also pitching for Rays: RH Erasmo Ramirez, RH Jaime Schultz

Pirates: Adam Frazier 6, Phil Gosselin 3, John Jaso 5, Francisco Cervelli 2, Jose Osuna 7, Danny Ortiz 8, Eric Wood 9, Max Moroff 4, RHP Chad Kuh 1l. Also pitching for Pirates: RH A.J. Schugel, RH Josh Lindblom, LH Dan Runzler.

>>> Wednesday: Off day.

>>> Thursday’s game: Pirates at Red Sox, 1:05 p.m., JetBlue Park at Fenway South, Fort Myers. Webcast: pirates.com Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Drew Hutchison. Also pitching for Pirates: TBA Red Sox: Lineup TBA. RHP Steven Wright. Also pitching for Red Sox: RH Craig Kimbrel, LH Robbie Ross Jr., RH Heath Hembree, LH Robby Scott, RH Noe Ramirez, LH Edgar Olmos

>>> Friday’s game: Rays at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. TV: Root. Rays: Lineup TBA. RHP Diego Moreno. Also pitching for Rays: RH Danny Farquhar, RH Ryan Garton, RH Neil Wagner, RH Erasmo Ramirez Pirates: TBA. Also pitching for Pirates: TBA

Moreno’s name might ring a bell. He was one of the two minor leaguers the Pirates traded to the Yankees in 2012 for RHP A.J. Burnett. Moreno signed with the Rays over the winter as a minor league free agent.

>>> Saturday’s game: Tigers at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. TV: Root. Tigers: Lineup TBA. Also pitching for Tigers: TBA. Pirates: TBA. Also pitching for Pirates: TBA

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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Pirates A.M. — “We roll out a bunch of 6-5 guys throwing 95 mph”

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By Rob Biertempfel

PTR-Bucsnote04-022716BRADENTON, Fla. — For the first couple weeks of spring training games, there’s usually not a lot of star power on the field after the fifth or sixth innings. That hasn’t been the case, though, with the Pirates’ pitchers.

“I think it would be tough to find another organization that has the depth of quality arms that we have,” righty Jameson Taillon said. “I think it’s cool we had a lot of Pirates (prospects) in camp this year, guys who we drafted and brought up. I consider (Steven) Brault and Trevor (Williams) to be Pirates, even though they weren’t drafted by us. If you look around, you see (Tyler) Glasnow, Brault, Trevor, (Nick) Kingham, Clay Holmes, (Tyler) Eppler … Most teams after the fifth inning start rolling out guys throwing like 86-88 mph. We roll out a bunch of 6-foot-5 guys throwing 95 mph with sink and curveballs and stuff. I think we’re in a better place this year, as far as depth and quality arms, than we were last year.”

PatLight>>> UPDATE 8:23 a.m. – Four roster moves were made this morning. RHP Pat Light was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. RHP Casey Sadler, RHP Angel Sanchez and LHP Jared Lakind were re-assigned to minor league camp. There are 47 players still in big league camp.

Sadler is coming back from Tommy John surgery. He made one appearance this spring on March 12 v. the Twins, allowing one hit and getting a strikeout in one inning. Sanchez, another TJ recovery guy, pitched against the Dominican Republic and also in a B game v. the Orioles. Lakind pitched with Team Israel in the WBC and in four Grapefruit Leaguye games (2.08 ERA in 4.1 IP). Light made five outings (3.86 ERA in 4.2 IP).

>>> On Sunday, GM Neal Huntington was asked if a decision would soon be made on the No. 5 starter. His response was, um, unenlightening: “We’re getting to a point where more guys are getting stretched out and innings are becoming more valuable and more difficult for Ray (Searage) to put the master map together. A very good outing from Tyler (Glasnow) yesterday. Drew (Hutchison) stumbled in his last outing. Trevor (Williams) was very good in his B game. (Steven) Brault had been solid, but struggled in his third inning of work yesterday. So, there good signs and there are challenges with each one of those guys. Some things are clarifying and we’re excited about the depth and the quality of arms we have in camp.”

>>> You want links? I’ve got links:

Alen Hanson doesn’t have to wear a watch to know what time it is. “It’s time for me to be in the league. I feel ready to do my job.”

Notebook … In which Watty is scuffling, Marte is gimpy and Kang is still out of the picture.

Pirates 11, Blue Jays 11 … in which Jose Tabata does a TOOTBLAN, Hanson swipes a bag and Jason Rogers gets back on the field.

>>> Monday’s game: Pirates at Rays, 1:05 p.m., Charlotte Sports Park, Port Charlotte. Webcast: pirates.com

Pirates: Adam Frazier 4, Jordy Mercer 6, Josh Bell 3, David Freese 5, Jose Osuna 9, Phil Gosselin 7, Austin Meadows 8, Chris Stewart 2, RHP Jameson Taillon 1. Also pitching for Pirates: RH Edgar Santana, LH Wade LeBlanc

Rays: Logan Morrison 3, Kevin Kiermaier 8, Evan Longoria 5, Brad Miller 4, Colby Rasmus DH, Corey Dickerson 7, Tim Beckham 6, Jake Bauers 9, Jesus Sucre 2. LHP Blake Snell. Also pitching for Rays: RH Shawn Tolleson, RH David Carpenter, RH Neil Wagner, RH Diego Moreno, LH Xavier Cedeno

>>> Tuesday’s game: Rays at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Rays: Lineup TBA. RHP Alex Cobb. Also pitching for Rays: RH Erasmo Ramirez, RH Jaime Schultz

Pirates: TBA. RHP Chad Kuhl. Also pitching for Pirates: RH A.J. Schugel, RH Josh Lindblom

>>> Wednesday: Off day.

>>> Thursday’s game: Pirates at Red Sox, 1:05 p.m., JetBlue Park at Fenway South, Fort Myers. Webcast: pirates.com Pirates: Lineup TBA. Also pitching for Pirates: TBA. Red Sox: Lineup TBA. Also pitching for Red Sox: .

>>> Friday’s game: Rays at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. Rays: Lineup TBA. Also pitching for Rays: TBA Pirates: TBA. Also pitching for Pirates: TBA

>>> Saturday’s game: Tigers at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton Tigers: Lineup TBA. Also pitching for Tigers: TBA Pirates: TBA. Also pitching for Pirates: TBA

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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Pirates A.M. — How to (expletive) off a pitcher

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By Rob Biertempfel

PTR-Bucs01-030216BRADENTON, Fla. — It’s almost always a good interview when John Jaso is involved, and our chat a few days ago about walks was no exception. Jaso has a knack for drawing walks and says they’re under-appreciated even by some folks who play the game: “In baseball, there’s a always that ‘tip your cap’ moment, like, ‘Oh, he just happened to hit my really good pitch that I located really well. Just tip your cap to the guy.’ When it comes to the walk, there is no hat-tipping. There’s just frustration and being pissed off at yourself if you’re a pitcher.”

You can read more about how Jaso turns walks into runs by picking up a copy of today’s Trib (or simply by clicking the link below). As I wrapped up the interview, I mentioned how coaches from Little League on up always insist that “a walk is as good as a hit.” Jaso paused and tossed out an exception to that rule: “It doesn’t apply to slow-pitch softball, though.”

>>> UPDATE 9:47 a.m. — A few quick takes from GM Neal Huntington’s weekly media scrum:

HuntingtonJung Ho Kang’s status: Still waiting on the visa process. He continues to work out and work hard on his own. The challenge is, he’s in the cold-weather city. We continue to stay in touch with him. He’s doing everything he can do. Until we get him here, until we get a real good feel for where he’s at baseball-wise and what the next steps are … He’s going to need a spring training, probably not as long as spring training typically is. He’s going to need some work, some game at-bats. We can set up some sim games, we can set up a lot of at-bats for him in a short period of time. But it’s hard to say until we get him here.

Marte’s gimpy ankle in WBC: “We’ve been in complete contact with the medical staff out there about where his ankle is at this point in time. It will be good to get our hands on him and progress him as we feel is appropriate from here on out. … It’s a matter of he’s got an ankle sprain and it’s going to be something that takes time. They’ve done everything they can do out there. We’ll do everything we can do once he gets back.”

Chad Kuhl practically a lock for the rotation: “Kuhl has been on the inside track, and I’ve acknowledged that from (the start of) camp. He’s continued to throw the ball well. Yeah, I think it’s easy to acknowledge that he continues to be on the inside track.”

Josh Bell’s defense: “Progressing. There’s still work to go. Some guys make it look easy — Sean Rodriguez and, actually, John Jaso. Some guys it’s more of a challenge. When a guy has played away from the ball that long to now come in and try to do something he’s doing at the hardest level, it is a challenge. The routine play is becoming routine, and that’s the most important part of it.  He wants to be a capable first baseman, and he’s working toward that.”

>>> You want links? I’ve got links:

Walks are cool. Walks can be weapons. John Jaso is the Chuck Norris of walks.

This headline on this notebook is a bit misleading. Actually, Glasnow was rather sharp yesterday.

Pirates 13, Phillies 8 … In which Glasnow runs, Jaso walks (of course) and Maikel Franco forgets how to wear his shades

>>> Sunday’s game: Blue Jays at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. Webcast: pirates.com

Blue Jays:Ezequiel Carrera 9, Gregorio Petit 6, Steve Pearce 3, Justin Smoke DH, Darrell Ceciliani 8, Michael Ohlman 2,  Jake Elmore 4, Jose Tabata 7, Jon Berti 5. RHP Mike Bolsinger. Also pitching for Blue Jays: RH Casey Lawrence, RH Lucas Harrell, RH Dominic Leone, RH Bo Schultz

Pirates: Alen Hanson 7, Jordy Mercer 6, Francisco Cervelli 2, David Freese 3, Eric Wood 5, Joey Terdoslavich 9, Gift Ngoepe 4, Danny Ortiz 8, RHP Gerrit Cole 1. Also pitching for Pirates: RH Jared Hughes, LH Antonio Bastardo, LH Tony Watson, RH Daniel Hudson.

>>> Can  you spot the two former Pirates in the Jays’ lineup? Tabata is a callup from minor league camp. … This will be Freese’s first appearance at first base this spring. He’s been Steady Eddie at third due to Kang’s misadventures. … Jason Rogers (ankle) has been cleared for full baseball activities and hopes to get some game action soon. … Ivan Nova has ditched the yellow (rust? orange? golden?) and gone back to his natural hair color.

>>> >>> Monday’s game: Pirates at Rays, 1:05 p.m., Charlotte Sports Park, Port Charlotte. Webcast: pirates.com

Pirates: TBA. RHP Jameson Taillon. Also pitching for Pirates: RH Edgar Santana, LH Wade LeBlanc. Rays: Lineup TBA. RHP Jake Odorizzi. Also pitching for Rays: RH Shawn Tolleson, RH David Carpenter, RH Andrew Kittredge

>>> Tuesday’s game: Rays at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Rays: Lineup TBA. Also pitching for Rays: TBA. Pirates: TBA. RHP Chad Kuhl. Also pitching for Pirates: TBA

>>> Wednesday: Off day.

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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Pirates A.M. — Crunch time for pitchers

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GlasnowBallBy Rob Biertempfel

BRADENTON, Fla. — After yesterday’s game, manager Clint Hurdle was asked what factors will be separators down the stretch in the battle for the final open spot in the starting rotation. He gave a laundry list: “Pitch execution. Ability to throw breaking balls and secondary stuff behind in the count for strikes. Pitch efficiency. Number of hitters retired on three pitches or (fewer). There are about a handful of things.”

Yesterday, Drew Hutchison threw a great first inning, followed by two rough ones. His other outings were solid and I believe he remains the frontrunner for the No. 5 starter’s job. Why? Well, off the top of my head, I can think of 2.3 million reasons — one for every dollar he’ll make this season. That’s a lot to pay a Triple-A pitcher (at least, it is for the Pirates).

Two other candidates — Tyler Glasnow and Steven Brault — are slated to work today against the Phillies an hour up the road in Clearwater. Of the two, I think Brault has the better chance.

UPDATE 10:51 a.m. — I spoke this morning with one of the decision-makers who told me, “I wish one of them would just step up and grab it.” Each pitcher has two starts left in spring training to do just that. If it comes down to either Brault or Hutchison, the loser might end up in the bullpen instead of back at Indy.

>>> UPDATE 9:02 a.m. –  Hurdle has left camp to attend a friend’s funeral (Hurdle’s second departure this spring). Bench coach Tom Prince will manage the team today.

>>> Andrew McCutchen was ejected from last night’s WBC game vs. Puerto Rico for arguing a call third strike. Earlier this spring, McCutchen grumbled in the Pirates clubhouse after being rung up on questionable calls by the same umpire in back-to-back games. Last year, he was ejected for the first time in his career, also for disputing a called strike. Team USA manager Jim Leyland replaced Cutch with … Giancarlo Stanton. Nice bench, skipper.

Looks like McCutchen had a point:

>>> You want links? I’ve got links:

David Freese thrived despite a shortened spring training. Will Jung Ho Kang be able to do the same?

Orioles 8, Pirates 6. Felipe Rivero tosses up two more scoreless innings.

Notebook … In which Hutchinson throws a clunker, Mike Tomlin scouts Josh Bell, and the Pirates make a small round of cuts.

>>> Here’s a video snippet of D-Hutch’s postgame chat with the media. That’s George Von Benko‘s shiny dome in the background.

>>> Saturday’s game: Pirates at Phillies, 1:05 p.m., Spectrum Field, Clearwater. Webcast: pirates.com

Pirates: Adam Frazier 4, Phil Gosselin 6, Josh Bell 3, John Jaso 9, Jose Osuna 7, Elias Diaz 2, Eric Wood 5, Eury Perez 8, RHP Tyler Glasnow 1. Also pitching for Pirates: LH Steven Brault, RH Pat Light

Phillies: Cesar Hernandez 4, Freddy Galvis 6, Howie Kendrick 7, Michael Saunders 9, Maikel Franco 5, Daniel Nava 3, Ryan Hanigan 2, Roman Quinn 8, RHP Jeremy Hellickson. Also pitching for Phillies: Joaquin Benoit, Jeanmar Gomez, Joely Rodriguez.

>>> Sunday’s game: Blue Jays at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. Webcast: pirates.com

Blue Jays: Lineup TBA. RHP Mike Bolsinger. Also pitching for Blue Jays: RH Casey Lawrence, RH Lucas Harrell, RH Dominic Leone, RH Bo Schultz

Pirates: Lineup TBA.. RHP Gerrit Cole. Also pitching for Pirates: RH Jared Hughes, LH Antonio Bastardo, LH Tony Watson, RH Daniel Hudson.

>>> Monday’s game: Pirates at Rays, 1:05 p.m., Charlotte Sports Park, Port Charlotte. Webcast: pirates.com Pirates: TBA. Also pitching for Pirates: TBA. Rays: Lineup TBA. RHP Jake Odorizzi. Also pitching for Rays: RH Shawn Tolleson, RH David Carpenter, RH Andrew Kittredge

>>> Tuesday’s game: Rays at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Rays: Lineup TBA. Also pitching for Rays: TBA. Pirates: TBA. Also pitching for Pirates: TBA

>>> Wednesday: Off day.

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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Pirates A.M. — Cutch for MVP? Bell the next Steelers QB?

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By Rob Biertempfel

McCutchenHandsBRADENTON, Fla. — Which Pirates player has the best chance to win the NL MVP award this year? The answer might surprise you. According to online betting site Bovada, Kris Bryant (11-to-4 odds), Bryce Harper (3-to-1) and Nolan Arenado (7-to-1) are the top three favorites. Also in the top 10 is outfielder … Andrew McCutchen.

Cutch got the same 33-to-1 odds as Yoenis Cespedes, Clayton Kershaw, Buster Posey, Max Scherzer, Kyle Schwarber, Giancarlo Stanton and Joey Votto. McCutchen is coming off an awful season and ZIPS and Steamer project merely a modest comeback this year. Will McCutchen prove them wrong?

I’d expect most fans would say newly anointed center fielder Starling Marte is the Pirates’ best hope for an MVP winner. However, Bovada says Marte’s odds are 55-to-1 — a little bit worse than Matt Carpenter, Trea Turner and Adrian Gonzalez.

>>> UPDATE 12:31 p.m. — When he made his annual visit to Pirates spring training camp last year, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said he wanted to recruit 6-foot-7 reliever Jared Hughes as a tight end. Hughes declined the offer, then hinted he might prefer to play quarterback.

When Tomlin stopped by camp again today, I asked if the Steelers had a QB vacancy to fill — a thinly veiled reference to Ben Roethlisberger’s supposed flirtation with retirement. Tomlin knew exactly what I was up to, and deftly side-stepped the query.

“I don’t know, I think this year I might be looking at (first baseman Josh) Bell,” Tomlin quipped. “I got a good, close-up look at the shoulders on Bell. I’m sure there’s something he could do for us.”

Emrick.jpeg>>> UPDATE 10:22 a.m. Doc Emrick will be in the Root booth for todya’s game vs. the Orioles, but he won’t do any play-by-play. Emrick will provide some commentary as Greg Brown calls the action.

>>> UPDATE 9:18 a.m.RHP Dovydas Neverauskas was optioned to Triple-A Indy. OF Barrett Barnes and C Christian Kelley were re-assigned to minor league camp. Baseball America ranks Neverauskas as the Pirates’ No. 24 prospect. He’ll likely fill a seventh- and/or eighth-inning role with Indy. “There was nothing I was told (by management) to work on,” Neverauskas said. “Just do the same thing I did last year.”

>>> Francisco Cervelli returned from the WBC on Thursday and is ready to get back to work:

>>> Catcher Jacob Stallings flew from Orlando to Nashville and made it to the hospital just in time to witness the birth of his child. Wi-fi on the plane helped keep him calm:

>>> You want links? I’ve got links:

Antonio Bastardo is taking nothing for granted at this stage of his career.

Notebok: Tony Watson is a greybeard in the clubhouse.

>>> Here’s a transcript of an interesting chat between a couple of stat wonks — Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com and Craig Edwards of Fangraphs — about whether the Cubs will be unstoppable in the NL Central this year.

>>> Friday’s game: Orioles at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. TV: Root

Orioles: Chris Dickerson 9, Johnny Giavotella 4, Hyun Soo Kim DH, Trey Mancini 3, Chance Sisco 2, Chris Johnson 5, Logan Schafer 8, Paul Janish 6, Aneury Tavarez 7. RHP Gabriel Ynoa. Also pitching for Orioles: RH Logan Verrett, LH Donnie Hart, LH Zach Britton.

Pirates:  Jordy Mercer 6, Alen Hanson 4, David Freese 5, John Jaso 9, Francisco Cervelli 2, Eric Wood 3, Austin Meadows 8, Danny Ortiz 7, Erich Weiss DH. RHP Drew Hutchison. Also pitching for Pirates: LH Felipe Rivero, LH Tyler Webb, LH Wade LeBlanc

>>> The Pirates and Orioles also will play a B game at 10 a.m. today in Sarasota. Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Trevor Williams. Also pitching for Pirates: RH Casey Sadler, RH Angel Sanchez. Orioles: Lineup TBA. RHP Mike Wright. Also pitching for Orioles: RH Darren O’Day.

>>> Saturday’s game: Pirates at Phillies, 1:05 p.m., Spectrum Field, Clearwater. Webcast: pirates.com

Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Tyler Glasnow. Also pitching for Pirates: LH Steven Brault, RH Pat Light. Rays: Lineup TBA. RHP Jeremy Hellickson. Also pitching for Phllies: TBA

>>> Sunday’s game: Blue Jays at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. Webcast: pirates.com

Rays: Lineup TBA. Also pitching for Blue Jays: RH Mike Bolsinger, RH Casey Lawrence, RH Lucas Harrell, RH Dominic Leone, RH Bo Schultz Pirates: TBA. Also pitching for Pirates: TBA

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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