By Rob Biertempfel/Photo by Christopher Horner
BOSTON — This morning, I spent a few minutes looking over the MLB payroll information compiled by USA Today. The Pirates’ opening day payroll of $94.6 million ranked 23rd among the 30 big league clubs. It’s also about $6 million less than the club’s total player salaries last year.
Payroll information can be tricky to decipher. The USA Today numbers involve only players on the active (25-man roster) and do not include deferred payments, incentives, money received in trades or the costs of players who were released. Keep in mind that when Pirates execs, such as prez Frank Coonelly, talk about team payroll, they like to use figures that pertain to the entire 40-man roster — it inflates the total, even if most of those players are making around the MLB minimum of $535,000. This year, the Pirates’ 40-man roster salaries cost about $104.3 million (which is still a lower total than it was a year ago).
>>> A team press release from today reminds us that Friday’s game against the Braves is not merely the home opener — it’s the “home opener presented by PNC Bank.” Gates will open at 11 a.m. Starling Marte will get his Gold Glove on the field before the game. Sally McCrady, chairwoman of the PNC Foundation, will throw the honorary first pitch. Bob Friend will be recognized for his contributions to the franchise over the years. “God Bless America” and the National Anthem will be performed by Gabby Barrett. The four children of fallen Canonsburg police officer Scott Bashioum will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
>>> UPDATE 5:33 P.M. – Triple-A Indianapolis released its preliminary roster. The starting rotation order will be Steven Brault, Drew Hutchison, Tyler Eppler, Clay Holmes and Josh Lindblom. The bullpen will consist of Cody Dickson, Dan Runzler, Pat Light, Brett McKinney, Dovydas Neverauskas, Angel Sanchez, Edgar Santana and A.J. Schugel. A press release from the team listed just two outfielders — Austin Meadows and Danny Ortiz — and added that 1B Jose Osuna also will get some time in the outfield.
>>> UPDATE 5:45 P.M. — Double-A Altoona’s roster includes four of the Pirates’ top 30 prospects, as ranked by Baseball America: SS Kevin Newman (No. 4), RHP Yeudy Garcia (No. 16), LHP Brandon Waddell (No. 17) and 2B Kevin Kramer (No. 21).
>>> UPDATE 5:51 P.M. – RHP prospect Nick Kingham sprained an ankle during spring training and will begin the season on the minor league disabled list as he gets built up to eventually join Indy’s rotation. Kingham, 25, had Tommy John surgery in May 2015.
>>> You want links? I’ve got links:
Some interesting comments from hitting coach Jeff Brason at the end of this piece about power bats and launch angles.
Gorman: Josh Bell left his mark on the Green Monster.
>>> Wednesday’s game: Pirates at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m., Fenway Park, Boston. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM
Pirates: Jordy Mercer 6, Starling Marte 8, Andrew McCutchen 9, Gregory Polanco 7, David Freese 5, Francisco Cervelli 2, Josh Harrison 4, Josh Bell 3, Adam Frazier DH. RHP Jameson Tailon (2017 debut).
Red Sox: Dustin Pedroia 4, Andrew Benintendi 7, Xavier Bogaerts 6, Hanley Ramirez DH, Mitch Moreland 3, Chris Young 9, Jackie Bradley 8, Pablo Sandoval 5, Sandy Leon 2. LHP Chris Sale (2017 debut).
Gamecast: On Monday, Gregory Polanco said he expected to start the game in left field. Polanco, who has a tender shoulder, was the designated hitter in the season opener. … During the winter meetings, the Red Sox swapped prospects Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Luis Alexander Basabe and Victor Diaz to the White Sox for Sale. … In his final spring training tuneup, Taillon worked three innings Friday against the Blue Jays. He gave up a run on three hits, walked one and struck out two. His final Grapefruit League ERA was 3.52 over five outings. … The Red Sox have won each of their past six and 15 of their past 17 interleague games. … Here’s a good tidbit courtesy of Pirates PR man Jimmy Trdinich: As high school opponents, Andrew McCutchen (Fort Meade High) homered off Sale (Lakeland High). They have never faced each other in a regular-season MLB game, but McCutchen did get a base hit off Sale during the 2012 All-Star Game in Kansas City.
>>> Thursday’s game: Pirates at Red Sox, 1:35 p.m., Fenway Park, Boston. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM
Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Chad Kuhl (2017 debut).
Red Sox: Lineup TBA. LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (2017 debut).
>>> Friday’s game: Braves at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM
Braves: Lineup TBA RHP R.A. Dickey (2017 debut)
Pirates: Lineup TBA RHP Ivan Nova (2017 debut)
>>> Saturday’s game: Braves at Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: None. Radio: 93.7 FM
Braves: Lineup TBA. RHP Mike Foltynewicz (2017 debut)
Pirates: Lineup TBA RHP Tyler Glasnow (2017 debut)
>>> Sunday’s game: Braves at Pirates, 1:35 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM
Braves: Lineup TBA. RHP Julio Teheran (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Pirates: Lineup TBA RHP Gerrit Cole (0-1, 9.00 ERA)
Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.