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March 25, 2014
by Rob Biertempfel


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Morning briefing: Game 27 v. Blue Jays

The "We Are Family" truck was loaded this morning with gear to send back to Pittsburgh.

The “We Are Family” truck was loaded this morning with gear to send back to Pittsburgh.

BRADENTON, Fla. — As you can read elsewhere on this site, the Pirates this morning cut 11 players from big league camp. Sending out Andrew Lambo and Jaff Decker brought some clarity to two positions – Travis Ishikawa (although he’s not on the 40-man roster yet) will share first base with Gaby Sanchez; Jose Tabata and Travis Snider will platoon in right field. Then again, the Pirates could could upset those plans in the next few days by making a trade and/or free-agent signing.

>> Reliever Jared Hughes was optioned to Indy along with Decker and Lambo. Pitchers Adam Wilk, Jay Jackson, Zack Thornton and Daniel Schlereth; outfielder Chris Dickerson; catcher Omir Santos; and infielders Robert Andino and Michael Martinez were reassigned to minor league camp.

>> GM Neal Huntington said there is no update on Jameson Taillon‘s sore elbow. Team doctors found no ligament damage, but Taillon is supposed to get a second opinion this week.

Blue Jays (12-12) @ Pirates (12-9-2), 1:05 p.m., McKechnie Field, Bradenton, Fla.
Radio: 93.7 FM Weather: Cloudy, 70 degrees
Blue Jays: 1. Matthew Tuiasosopo RF, 2. Melky Cabrera LF, 3. Edwin Encarnacion DH, 4. Erik Kratz C, 5. Dan Johnson 1B, 6. Brett Carroll CF, 7. Maicer Izturis 2B, 8. Ryan Goins SS, 9. Jonathan Diaz 3B. J.A. Happ LHP
Pirates: 1. Starling Marte LF, 2. Russell Martin C, 3. Andrew McCutchen CF, 4. Pedro Alvarez 3B, 5. Gaby Sanchez 1B, 6. Jose Tabata LF, 7. Neil Walker 2B, 8. Jordy Mercer SS, 9. Wandy Rodriguez LHP.
Other pitchers: Mark Melancon (two innings), Justin Wilson (one inning)
– Rob Biertempfel

March 24, 2014
by Travis Sawchik


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Monday Mop-Up Duty: the attrition game and Pirates looking at Didi?

SOUTH HILLS – Pirates general manager Neal Huntington says the ligament intact. The Pirates are hoping some rest alleviates the pain. But you never want to hear about a top pitching prospect feeling elbow pain. And Jameson Taillon is experiencing elbow pain.

This is problematic for the Pirates on two fronts: for starters, he’s one of their most valuable organizational assets and this could potentially delay his development, secondly, the club was also likely counting on him for some impact, second-half-of-the-season innings.

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March 24, 2014
by Rob Biertempfel


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Morning briefing: Game 26 v. Tigers

Maybe the Pirates will honor Ralph Kiner someday by building the rest of his statue.

Maybe the Pirates will honor Ralph Kiner someday by building the rest of his statue.

BRADENTON, Fla. — Management held a couple of closed-door meetings this morning, most likely to sort out the pitching situation. LHP Francisco Liriano still is listed as the Opening Day starter, but that could change if his groin injury does not improve soon. Liriano told me this morning he’ll try to throw off a bullpen mound Wednesday. There are no relievers listed yet on today’s lineup card, although Bryan Morris is scheduled to throw at Pirate City and Jeanmar Gomez and Stolmy Pimentel will throw side sessions. … The Pirates announced they will wear No. 4 patches on their jerseys this season to honor the late Ralph Kiner. Continue Reading →

March 23, 2014
by Rob Biertempfel


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Morning briefing: Game 25 @ Orioles

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 →

March 22, 2014
by Rob Biertempfel


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Morning briefing: Game 24 v. Phillies

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.

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March 21, 2014
by Rob Biertempfel


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Afternoon briefing: Game 23 v. Yankees

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 →

March 20, 2014
by Travis Sawchik


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

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:

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March 20, 2014
by Rob Biertempfel


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

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 →

March 19, 2014
by Travis Sawchik


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

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?

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March 18, 2014
by Rob Biertempfel


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A trade or two might help shape active roster

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.

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