Story: Rob Biertempfel/Photos: Christopher Horner
BRADENTON, 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 email@example.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.