On Opening Day, Pirates counting on Cole and Cutch comebacks

The Pirates begin the 2017 MLB season today against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park with Andrew McCutchen on the Opening Day roster, which appeared unlikely this past off-season.

The Pirates have two major needs this season.

gerrit cole 3

Pirates GM Neal Huntington: ‘It’s no coincidence that we were good when Gerrit was good’

One, writes Rob Biertempfel, is for an ace pitcher and the return of a dominant Gerrit Cole to have success.

Andrew McCutchen

Andrew McCutchen showed signs of clutch hitting with five RBI in the World Baseball Classic

Another, my column says, is for an MVP-caliber Andrew McCutchen, which means the Pirates need for Cutch to be clutch again.

Alen Hanson throwing

Alen Hanson threw out three baserunners from left field this spring

Phil Gosselin high fives

Phil Gosselin, acquired from the Diamondbacks, took advantage of the absence of Jung Ho Kang

The Pirates finalized their Opening Day roster, and utility players Alen Hanson and Phil Gosselin made the cut over the hottest bat of spring training.

Eyes on Polanco

Like Pirates fan Bo Brooke, 10, keep your eyes on Gregory Polanco, poised for a breakout year

Trib photographer Christopher Horner provides a spring training gallery.

Meantime, in Milwaukee…

ON THE ICE

Scott Wilson scores

Scott Wilson scores through the five-hole on Hurricanes goalie Eddie Lack

The Penguins displayed their depth in a win over Carolina, writes Jonathan Bombulie.

Chris Kunitz

Chris Kunitz might end his nine-year tenure with the team ranked ninth on the franchise’s all-time list in goals (169) and 13th in points (388)

In the Penguins notebook, Bombulie reports that coach Mike Sullivan called Chris Kunitz’s lower-body injury ‘longer-term.’

On the Chipped Ice blog, JB talks puck possession.