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March 20, 2014
by Rob Biertempfel


7 comments so far - add yours!

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


97 comments so far - add yours!

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


69 comments so far - add yours!

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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March 14, 2014
by Travis Sawchik


50 comments so far - add yours!

See you soon, Gregory. See you in June.

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.

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March 13, 2014
by Travis Sawchik


46 comments so far - add yours!

Gerrit Cole is diversifying his portfolio

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.

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March 12, 2014
by Travis Sawchik


100 comments so far - add yours!

Silver linings playbook: Pirates’ 2014 schedule and Travis Snider

FORT MYERS, Fla. – One issue facing the Pirates entering 2014 is a number of NL contenders have become stronger. The Braves have reached an agreement with Ervin Santana. The Nationals added Doug Fister and are due for an overall bounceback, I think. The Cardinals addressed their black hole at short and overall defense. The Giants added Tim Hudson, etc., etc. The Pirates have done relatively little as is well documented.

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March 10, 2014
by Travis Sawchik


88 comments so far - add yours!

Monday Mop-Up Duty: the risk and reward of Pitch-22

BRADENTON, Fla. – One strong impression for me early this spring after spending time both in the major league clubhouse and around the minor leaguers at Pirate City, is the Pirates have built up a small army of impressive young arms. I knew this reading and hearing about the arms, but seeing is believing. Everywhere you look, everywhere you turn, it seems there is a 6-foot-6 right-hander with a 95 mph fastball. And this is not an accident.

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March 10, 2014
by Rob Biertempfel


7 comments so far - add yours!

Morning briefing: Game 14 v. Orioles

BRADENTON, Fla. — There were 59 players in camp Sunday night. This morning, six moved out in the first wave of cuts. RHP Jameson Taillon, the second overall draft pick in 2010, was reassigned to minor league camp. He made two Grapefruit League outings and might have gotten one more, if not for a blister on a finger on his pitching hand. Taillon will start the season with Triple-A Indianapolis, but most likely will be on the mound at PNC Park sometime before the summer is over. “It’s never fun (to be cut), but I’ve got to go down and get innings,” Taillon said. “It was fun to get some innings here. But, the reality of it is I’ve got to get built up and there’s not enough innings to go around.”

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March 9, 2014
by Rob Biertempfel


2 comments so far - add yours!

Morning briefing: Games 12, 13 vs. Red Sox, Orioles

BRADENTON, Fla. – Travis Ishikawa, who’s been slowed by a hamstring problem, will make his first start of the spring today as the designated hitter in the split-squad game vs. the Red Sox. … Andrew McCutchen will play in his first road game today, although it’s not much of a trip — a 20-minute drive down Rt. 41 to Sarasota. … Bench coach Jeff Banister unofficially gets credit for the win yesterday against the Rays, as manager Clint Hurdle spent the day at Pirate City. Banny will try to make it two in a row this afternoon vs. the O’s at Sarasota; Hurdle will manage the split-squad vs. the Red Sox in Bradenton.

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