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Morning Java: Rotation riddles

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> The TribLIVE Radio show will resume its 2 p.m. Wednesday rotation after a six-week hiatus for travel to Sochi, baseball and basketball.

Special in-studio guest will be Jason Kutney, CEO of the Riverhounds, on the week of their season opener Saturday in Orlando. He’ll talk about that and the three quality players just loaned from the Houston Dynamo, their MLS affiliate.

One of those is 23-year-old Jason Johnson, who did this as a rookie last season for Houston …

Johnson, a Jamaican native, was the 13th overall pick in the MLS Superdraft and, really, will be here only because the Dynamo is a perennial power and loaded with vets.

>> The Penguins stay with the Western theme and host the Coyotes tonight at Consol. Josh Yohe reports.

Lee Stempniak works — hard — to fit in, by Yohe.

Our WPXI-TV Subway Final Word panel wondered aloud about the Penguins’ post-Sochi performance:

Here’s TribLIVE’s Penguins page.

Here’s Coyotes news from the Arizona Republic, and I’ll call special attention here to Mike Smith’s ugly leg injury last night at the Garden. That’s no small issue. He’s Phoenix’s best player at any position, and they immediately looked like a different team without him.

Here are official game highlights on NHL.com.

>> The Steelers sign another free agent — ho hum, right? — by adding Arthur Moats as linebacker depth. Alan Robinson reports from the NFL owners’ meetings in Orlando.

If Moats doesn’t ring your bell, maybe his famous ringing of Brett Favre’s bell will do it:

That, of course, ended Favre’s consecutive-games streak.

The Steelers still have holes to fill, by Robinson.

Mark Cuban thinks the NFL is flirtin’ with disaster, by Robinson. Some really interesting thoughts in here.

>> Terrelle Pryor wants out of Oakland. Hardly an original thought.

Here’s TribLIVE’s Steelers page.

>> Clint Hurdle rolled out his rotation for the Pirates’ first few games, but it’s all dependent on Francisco Liriano pitching without incident today in a sim game. Rob Biertempfel reports from Bradenton.

If Liriano’s groin holds up, he’ll pitch the first and fifth games, pushing Edinson Volquez back to the sixth. That should tell you a couple of things:

1. Hurdle’s got this all mapped out for Liriano to be the horse. Which he just might have to be, given the low volume of 200-inning ledgers of everyone else.

2. They’ll buy Volquez every day, every side session, every video session they can before sending him out there. And when they do … it’ll be against the Cardinals.

Hm.

Throw into the mix, too, that Jeff Locke is looking like he could — that’s could — be ready. If Locke gets in there in the opening week, whether for Liriano or someone else, and he pitches better than Volquez, it won’t take long for our first hot-button topic.

Here’s TribLIVE’s Pirates page.

Here’s Cubs news from the Chicago Tribune.

Here are official game highlights on MLB.com.

>> Mike Hull, Penn State linebacker out of Canon-Mac, will move to the middle next season. Chris Adamski reports from State College.

>> Thank you, as always, for reading.

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Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and, recently, his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the country's top four columnists by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the country's top three columnists by the National Headliners. For 2013, he was named the state's top columnist by the Keystone Press Awards and top columnist in Western Pennsylvania by the Golden Quills.

 
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