All posts by Rob Biertempfel

Pirates A.M. — See yinz next week

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By Rob Biertempfel

BRADENTON, Fla. — We’re at the midpoint of spring training, so I’m taking a week’s hiatus from the sunny Gulf Coast. Whilst I’m away, follow Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) for Pirates coverage.

PolancoWBC17>>> Although Gregory Polanco was in the lineup for the Dominican Republic’s pre-WBC games against the Pirates and Orioles, he probably will get limited playing time in the tournament. When Adrian Beltre (who was not in the lineup yesterday vs. the Pirates) is the designated hitter, Nelson Cruz will start in the outfield and push Polanco onto the bench.

If the DR makes a run deep into the tourney, Polanco might go a few days in a row without getting a lot of regular game action. If the DR advances to the title game on March 22, Polanco will get just about a week in Pirates camp before the season opener April 3 vs. the Red Sox. The question is, will that be enough to get Polanco ready for the season?

>>> Pirates 3B prospect Eric Wood went 3 for 4, including two home runs, for Team Canada yesterday vs. the Yankees.

>>> Austin Meadows lugs a plastic gallon jug of water with him everywhere as he moves about the clubhouse each morning, “Just a habit,” Meadows said. “I drink about two gallons of water a day. Using (the jug) makes it easy to know how much I’ve drank.”

>>> UPDATE 11:41 a.m. — The MLB Little League Classic was finalized today when the commissioner’s office announced the Aug 20 game vs. the Cardinals will be moved from PNC Park to BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field in Williamsport, Pa. The game will be televised on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball.”

If you’ve already bought tickets to the game formerly set for Pittsburgh, you cannot use them in Williamsport. You have a choice to make: request a full refund by March 31 (that’s just 22 days away, for those of you scoring at home) or trigger the “exchange option” — in essence, swap your useless tickets for tickets to any “black” or “white” level home game. With the exchange option, you also get a food/beverage credit equal to the value of your tickets.

The Pirates will remain the home team for the Little League Classic. Also, players from both teams will attend Little League World Series games that day.

By the way, game time for the Aug. 19 game against the Cardinals has been moved to 4:05 p.m. That game will be played at PNC Park.

>>> You want links? I’ve got links:

Adamski reports that Polanco and Marte were among the first pieces to fall into place when the DR roster was being assembled.

Tony Pena reminisces about Pirate City, Tyler Glasnow scuffles and Jared Hughes is ready to go back to his roots.

Dominican Republic 10, Pirates 6. The home team’s 4-0 lead slipped away.

>>> Thursday’s game: Pirates at Rays, 1:05 p.m., Charlotte Sports Park, Port Charlotte. Webcast: pirates.com

Pirates: Adam Frazier 6, Alen Hanson 5, Phil Gosselin 4, Jose Osuna 3, Elias Diaz 2, Danny Ortiz 9, Chris Bostick 8, Barrett Barnes 7, RHP Chad Kuhl 1. Also pitching for Pirates: LH Felipe Rivero, RH A.J. Schugel and LH Wade LeBlanc

Rays: Lineup TBA. LHP Blake Snell. Also pitching for Rays: RH Tommy Hunter, RH David Carpenter, RH Ryan Garton, RH Kevin Gadea, LH Justin Marks

>>> Friday’s game: Rays at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. Radio: 93.7 FM. TV: Root Rays: Lineup TBA. RHP Matt Andriese. Also pitching for Rays: TBA Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Drew Hutchison. Also pitching for Pirates: RH Juan Nicasio, LH Tony Watson, RH Daniel Hudson, RH Dovydas Neverauskus

>>> Saturday’s game: Pirates at Orioles, 1:05 p.m., Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota. Radio: 93.7 FM Pirates: Lineup TBA. Also pitching for Pirates: TBA. Orioles: Lineup TBA. RHP Mike Wright. Also pitching for Orioles: TBA.

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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Pirates A.M. — Marte, Polanco v. the Pirates

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By Rob Biertempfel

MatePolancoDRBRADENTON, Fla. — It’s going to be a bit unusual this afternoon seeing Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco wearing visiting uniforms at LECOM Park. The two outfielders are playing for the Dominican Republic’s World Baseball Classic team, which will play an exhibition against the Pirates. On Tuesday, the DR lost 5-4 against the Orioles.

Manager Clint Hurdle expects the DR will use its regular starters. “I’ve got to imagine they’ll throw their guys at us, because they’ve got games coming up,” Hurdle said. “It’s going to be a good test.”

It should be interesting to watch Polanco and Marte dig in against Gerrit Cole and Tyler Glasnow. “That will be different,” Hurdle said with a smile. “We’ll see how our pitching philosophy works out against them.”

>>> DR manager Tony Pena talks about his memories of McKechnie Field and what he thinks about Polanco and Marte (please ignore the cameo appearance by Jayson Starks camera phone; it was tight quarters in the dugout):

>>> Wednesday’s game: Dominican Republic at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. Webcast: pirates.com

Dominican Republic: Carlos Santana 3, Robinson Cano 4, Manny Machado 5, Jose Bautista 7, Nelson Cruz DH, Starling Marte 8, Jean Segura 6, Gregory Polanco 9, Wilington Castillo 2. RHP Wily Peralta

Also pitching for Dominican Republic: RH Tyler Eppler, LH Cody Dickson, LH Jared Lakind, RH Cesar Valdez

Pirates: Alen Hanson 4, Jordy Mercer 6, Josh Bell 3, David Freese 5, John Jaso 9, Eury Perez 7, Danny Ortiz 8, Jackson Williams 2, Gerrit Cole RHP.

Also pitching for Pirates: RH Tyler Glasnow, LH Dan Runzler, RH Angel Sanchez, RH Pat Light

>>> The Dominican team will wear black armbands in honor of Andy Marte and Yordano Ventura.

>>> There definitely is a heightened security presence, including bomb-sniffing doges, at LECOM Park. The DR team arrived on two buses and passed through a tented area (with a black curtain) as they entered the clubhouse.

>>> Three Pirates minor leaguers — Tyler Eppler, Cody Dickson and Jared Lakind — will work out of the DR’s bullpen today.

>>> Most of the folks who follow me on Twitter apparently don’t particularly care about the WBC:

>>> You want links? I’ve got links:

Some advice from Cole and Ray Searage might push Steven Brault over the top in the battle for the lone open job in the rotation.

How does Chris Stewart keep Father Time at bay? Fewer spring training starts, more ice-tub baths and more massages.

Pirates 6, Braves 3. A gusty wind helps Austin Meadows at the plate, hurts him in right field.

>>> Thursday’s game: Pirates at Rays, 1:05 p.m., Charlotte Sports Park, Port Charlotte. Webcast: pirates.com

Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Chad Kuhl. Also pitching for Pirates: LH Felipe Rivero, RH A.J. Schugel and LH Wade LeBlanc

Rays: Lineup TBA. LHP Blake Snell. Also pitching for Rays: RH Tommy Hunter, RH David Carpenter, RH Ryan Garton, RH Kevin Gadea, LH Justin Marks

>>> Friday’s game: Rays at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. Radio: 93.7 FM. TV: Root

Rays: Lineup TBA. RHP Matt Andriese. Also pitching for Rays: TBA

Pirates: TBA. Also pitching for Pirates: TBA

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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Pirates A.M. — Where to bat Bell?

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Bell's combo of power and patience make him a good fit at several spots in the lineup. (Christopher Horner photo)
Bell’s combo of power and patience make him a good fit at several spots in the lineup. (Christopher Horner photo)

By Rob Biertempfel

BRADENTON, Fla. — If you were filling out the Pirates’ lineup card, where would you put Josh Bell? He mostly batted third or fourth at Triple-A Indy and Double-A Altoona, but …

“I feel like in the minor leagues, it was a little bit different,” Bell said. “You get up here and there are guys that have been doing it for years. Last year, I felt comfortable hitting second. I feel comfortable fifth or sixth. Wherever I can help the team, wherever I can learn my responsibilities in that part of the lineup. I could lead off if I had to. I’ve done that in the past. Wherever I’m slated.”

>>> The relocation of the Aug. 20 game vs. the Cardinals is not yet finalized, but should be a done deal in the next couple of days. The game will be played at BB&T Ballpark at Bowman Field, a 4,500-seat minor league stadium built in 1926.

Because the game is being played domestically, MLB did not need the permission of the Players’ Association to change the venue. That was not the case last year, when the union’s opposition shot down the proposed games in Puerto Rico between the Pirates and Marlins.

Fans who already bought tickets for the Aug. 20 game at PNC Park will be reimbursed by the Pirates. The Pirates will be reimbursed an undisclosed amount by MLB for the revenue they’ll lose by giving up the home game.

Bowman Field is where the short-season Class A Williamsport Crosscutters (a Phillies affiliate) play. Tony Watson and Jared Hughes made their pro debuts there. “Who’s the super-fan there?” Watson asked. Hughes remembered: “Rhashan. He’s their director of smiles. He’ll be there, for sure.” Rhashan West-Bey is indeed a fixture at Bowman Field, as this MLB.com story from 2012 explains.

>>> You want links? I’ve got links:

Josh Bell was pleased with his first game action of spring training 

Ivan Nova had a message for his pals: “We going to do it at my pace.” 

Pirates 13, Yankees 1 No contest. 

>>> Tuesday’s game: Braves (2-8) at Pirates (8-3), 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. TV: Root.

Braves: Jace Peterson 6, Emilio Bonifacio 8, Brandon Phillips 4, Adonis Garcia 5, Anthony Recker 2, Ronald Acuna 9, Micah Johnson 7, Matt Tuiasosopo 3, Braxton Davidson DH. LHP Jaime Garcia

Also pitching for Braves: RH Matt Wisler, RH Jim Johnson, RH Arodys Vizcaino

Pirates: Adam Frazier 5, Phil Gosselin 6, Austin Meadows 9, John Jaso 3, Chris Stewart 2, Max Moroff 4, Chris Bostick 7, Eury Perez 8, RHP Trevor Williams 1.

Also pitching for Pirates: LH Steven Brault, RH Jared Hughes, LH Antonio Bastardo, LH Ty Webb

>>> Wednesday’s game: Dominican Republic at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. Webcast: pirates.com

Dominican Republic: Lineup TBA. RHP Wily Peralta. Also pitching for Dominican Republic: TBA

Pirates: Lineup TBA. Gerrit Cole. Also pitching for Pirates: RH Tyler Glasnow, LH Dan Runzler, RH Angel Sanchez, RH Pat Light

>>> Thursday’s game: Pirates at Rays, 1:05 p.m., Charlotte Sports Park, Port Charlotte. Webcast: pirates.com

Pirates: TBA. Also pitching for Pirates: TBA

Rays: Lineup TBA. LHP Blake Snell Also pitching for Rays: RH Tommy Hunter, RH David Carpenter, RH Ryan Garton, RH Kevin Gadea, LH Justin Marks

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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Pirates A.M. — Notable lineup tweaks today

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BellFutures2.jpegBy Rob Biertempfel

BRADENTON, Fla. — Two things stand out about today’s lineup. First, howdy, Josh Bell. He’ll make his Grapefruit League debut after recovering from offseason knee surgery. Second, grab a bat, Ivan Nova! The Pirates have stopped using a designated hitter.

>>> Chris Stewart is scheduled to catch in his first spring training game on Tuesday vs. the Braves. Stewart told me he’ll likely be behind the plate for three to five innings. “I’m expecting a sold-out crowd,” Stewart joked. Stewart had knee surgery in September and has been going at a slow pace during spring training. “I’ll get my work in, the things I need done, and pretty much (do) nothing more,” Stewart said. “The less taxing, the better. I’ve still got to be ready to go on day one, so it’s a matter of managing my workload and making sure I do all that needs to be done.”

>>> Gregory Polanco popped into the Pirates clubhouse this morning to pick up some gear on his way to the Dominican Republic’s WBC training camp. Team DR is working out at Pirate City, about 5 miles from BFKMF, and will play the Pirates here on Wednesday.

>>> Jung Ho Kang’s locker in the McKechnie clubhouse at the Ballpark Formerly Known as McKechnie Field is stocked with shoes, jerseys, uniform pants and batting gloves. The Pirates remain mum on when they expect Kang, who last week got a suspended sentence for drunk driving in South Korea, to arrive in camp.

>>> You want links? I’ve got links:

With the fellas away at the WBC, Austin Meadows will get more PT.

Tom Prince is filling in as skipper while Clint Hurdle is away to attend a funeral

Yankees 3, Pirates 2. Rematch is this afternoon.

>>> Monday’s game: Yankees at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Yankees (9-2): Brett Gardner 7, Jacoby Ellsbury 8, Starlin Castro 4, Greg Bird 3, Chase Headley 5, Aaron Judge DH, Aaron Hicks 9, Austin Romine 2, Jorge Mateo 6. RHP Bryan Mitchell.

Also pitching for Yankees: LH Jordan Montgomery, LH Jon Niese, LH Evan Rutckyj

Pirates (7-3): Adam Frazier 9, Jordy Mercer 6, Josh Bell 3, David Freese 5, Elias Diaz 2, Chris Bostick 4, Austin Meadows 8, Barrett Barnes 7 RHP Ivan Nova 1.

Also pitching for Pirates: RH Josh Lindblom, LH Felipe Rivero, RH Juan Nicasio, RH Edgar Santana, RH Dovydas Neverauskas.

>>> Tuesday’s game: Braves at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. TV: Root.

Braves: Lineup TBA. LHP Jaime Garcia. Also pitching for Braves: RH Matt Wisler, RH Jim Johnson, RH Arodys Vizcaino

Pirates: TBA. RHP Trevor Williams. Also pitching for Pirates: LH Steven Brault, RH Jared Hughes, LH Antonio Bastardo, LH Ty Webb

>>> Wednesday’s game: Dominican Republic at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. Webcast: pirates.com

Dominican Republic: TBA. Also pitching for Dominican Republic: TBA

Pirates: TBA. Also pitching for Pirates: TBA

>>> Thursday’s game: Pirates at Rays, 1:05 p.m., Charlotte Sports Park, Port Charlotte. Webcast: pirates.com

Pirates: TBA. Also pitching for Pirates: TBA

Rays: Lineup TBA. LHP Blake Snell. Also pitching for Rays: RH Tommy Hunter, RH David Carpenter, RH Ryan Garton, RH Kevin Gadea, LH Justin Marks

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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Pirates A.M. — Cervy’s last game (for a little while)

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CervyAmore2017By Rob Biertempfel

TAMPA — Today is the first of back-to-back games against the Yankees. It’s also one of just four road games the Pirates will play between now and March 14, which is the club’s first off day of spring training. Francisco Cervelli will be the designated hitter in his last game before joining Team Italy in the WBC.

PrinceTom>>> UPDATE 8:49 a.m. — Tom Prince will manage the Pirates in the games today and Monday against the Yankees. Clint Hurdle has been given permission to leave camp to attend the funeral of a close friend.

>>> You want links? I’ve got links:

Martin Prado (sort of) predicted Francisco Cervelli would be traded to the Pirates 

Last week, Josh Harrison hugged Jim Leyland. This week, he’ll be playing for him. 

Pirates 3, Red Sox 2 Cutch loosens up and delivers, but pays a physical toll 

>>> Sunday’s game: Pirates at Yankees, 1:05 p.m., Steinbrenner Field, Tampa. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Pirates (7-2): Max Moroff 6, Alen Hanson 4, Francisco Cervelli DH, John Jaso 3, Eric Wood 5, Jose Osuna 9, Barrett Barnes 7, Jacob Stallings 2, Danny Ortiz 8. RHP Jameson Taillon

Also pitching for Pirates: RH Nick Kingham, RH Clay Holmes, LH Antonio Bastardo, RH A.J. Schugel, LH Dan Runzler.

Yankees: Lineup TBA. RHP Masahiro Tanaka

Also pitching for Yankees: LH Aroldis Chapman, LH Tommy Layne, RH Tyler Clippard, RH Luis Cessa, RH Yefry Ramirez, RH Chance Adams

>>> Monday’s game: Yankees at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Yankees: Lineup TBA. RHP Bryan Mitchell

Also pitching for Yankees: LH Jordan Montgomery, LH Jon Niese, LH Evan Rutckyj

Pirates: RHP Ivan Nova.

Also pitching for Pirates: RH Losh Lindblom, LH Felipe Rivero, RH Juan Nicasio, RH Edgar Santana, RH Dovydas Neverauskas

>>> Tuesday’s game: Braves at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. TV: Root.

Braves: Lineup TBA. LHP Jaime Garcia

Also pitching for Braves: RH Matt Wisler, RH Jim Johnson, RH Arodys Vizcaino

Pirates: TBA

Also pitching for Pirates: TBA

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.


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Pirates A.M. — Cole working on a change

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By Rob Biertempfel

BRADENTON, Fla. — Guess which pitch Gerrit Cole is working on a lot this spring. Kudos if you said the changeup. Then again, it seems every pitcher in Pirates camp is either fine-tuning their touch on the pitch or trying a new grip or doing something else related to the changeup.

“It was the first secondary pitch I started tossing this offseason,” Cole said after tossing two scoreless innings yesterday. “I put a little extra emphasis on it. It’s coming along quite nicely. I located it where I needed it and I think I got (Manny) Machado to roll over on it, which is nice.”

With his injury problems last spring (which carried over into the season) Cole never got much of a chance to refine his changeup. “It’s my least-used secondary pitch. The movement is a good complement to my slider but it’s my least-used.”

He’s happy with how the changeup is progressing this spring, and expects to have enough confidence in it to use the pitch from day one. “You want to come out with as many bullets as you can in April. There’s not a lot of stress with that pitch so I got it going a couple of weeks early.”

Harrison1>>> UPDATE 11:26 a.m.Josh Harrison will play for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. “I’m looking forward to putting on the colors and playing with the rest of the guys,” Harrison said. Harrison will replace Matt Carpenter, who has a stiff back. The other second basemen on the roster are Ian Kinsler and Daniel Murphy.

>>> Andrew McCutchen had a heat wrap on his lower back this morning in the clubhouse. “A little tight when I woke up this morning,” Cutch told me, adding that he expects to be good to go for today’s televised game against the Red Sox. It’s his final game before leaving camp to join Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.

>>> You want links? I’ve got links:

The Ace, the Future, the Question all were a bit nervous yesterday, but it worked out all right

John Jaso played right field, and it was fabulous 

Pirates 5, Orioles 2 Infield hits can create runs

Will Pirates suspend Jung Ho Kang? Maybe, maybe not 

TVonAir>>> Saturday’s game: Red Sox at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. TV: MLB Network. Webcast: pirates.com

Red Sox (3-5): Brock Holt 6, Chris Young 7, Jackie Bradley Jr. 8, Pablo Sandoval 5, Blake Swihart 2, Allen Craig 3, Brian Bogusevic 9, Junior Lake DH, Mike Miller 4. RHP Hector Velazquez

Also pitching for Red Sox: RH Joe Kelly, RH Matt Barnes, RH Kyle Martin, LH Fernando Abad, RH Chandler Shepherd, RH Jamie Callahan, RH Ben Taylor

Pirates (6-2): Josh Harrison 4, Starling Marte 8, Andrew McCutchen 9, Gregory Polanco 7, Francisco Cervelli 2, David Freese DH, Jordy Mercer 6, Jose Osuna 3 Eric Wood 5. RHP Chad Kuhl

Also pitching for Pirates: LH Tony Watson, RH Daniel Hudson, LH Wade LeBlanc, RH Jared Hughes, RH Pat Light

>>> Sunday’s game: Pirates (RHP Jameson Taillon) at Yankees (RHP Masahiro Tanaka), 1:05 p.m., Steinbrenner Field, Tampa. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Also pitching for Pirates: RH Nick Kingham, RH Clay Holmes, LH Antonio Bastardo, RH A.J. Schugel, LH Dan Runzler.

Also pitching for Yankees: LH Aroldis Chapman, LH Tommy Layne, RH Tyler Clippard, RH Luis Cessa, RH Yefry Ramirez, RH Chance Adams

>>> Monday’s game: Yankees (RHP Bryan Mitchell) at Pirates (TBA), 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Also pitching for Yankees: LH Jordan Montgomery, LH Jon Niese, LH Evan Rutckyj

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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Pirates A.M. — Discussion? Yes. Discipline? Maybe.

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Kang4By Rob Biertempfel

BRADENTON, Fla. — A South Korean court last night gave Jung Ho Kang a suspended sentence of eight months in jail for fleeing the scene of a DUI incident.

Kang was sentenced to eight months in prison by the Seoul Central District Court, which then suspended the sentence for two years.

Kang’s four-year, $11 million contract runs out in two years. The Pirates hold a $5.5 million option for 2019.

This was Kang’s third DUI offense since 2009. The first two happened before he signed with the Pirates.

This morning, Pirates president Frank Coonelly reacted with a one-paragraph statement via email. Here’s the entire text from Coonelly: “Now that Jung Ho’s legal case in Korea has concluded, we will continue to work with him and his representatives in an effort to secure his work visa so that he may resume his career as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. We look forward to meeting with Jung Ho as soon as he is able to travel to the United States and having a serious discussion with him on this issue and how he has and will change those behaviors that led to the very serious punishment that has been levied against him in Korea. We will withhold judgment on what Club discipline, if any, is appropriate until we have had an opportunity to have that discussion. We will also withhold from further comment until we have an opportunity to meet with Jung Ho. Regardless of our decision on the disciplinary issue, we will do everything that we can as an organization to assist Jung Ho as he works to change his behavior and grow into the man that we know he can be.”

>>> You want links? I’ve got links:

When Felipe Rivero throws his changeup, hilarity sometimes ensues 

Jordy Mercer chats about his grand slam and the changes to the defensive drills this spring

Pirates 11, Tigers 1 Steven Brault gave up just one homer, which was better than Justin Verlander fared. 

>>> Friday’s game: Orioles at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. Radio: 93.7 FM

Orioles (3-4) : Hyun-soo Kim 7, Joey Rickard 8, Manny Machado 6, Welington Castillo 2, Trey Mancini-3, Johnny Giavotella 4, Ryan Flaherty 5, Craig Gentry 8, Anthoy Santander DH. LHP Wade Miley

Also pitching for Orioles: LH Chris Lee, RH Mychal Givens, RH Logan Ondrusek, RH Jesus Liranzo.

Pirates (5-2): Starling Marte 8, Phil Gosselin 6, Gregory Polanco 7, David Freese 5, John Jaso 9. Kevin Newman DH, Joey Terdoslavich 3, Elias Diaz 2, Max Moroff 4. RHP Gerrit Cole.

Also pitching for Pirates: Tyler Glasnow, Drew Hutchison

discomfort4>>> UPDATE 9:14 a.m. – Jason Rogers is in a walking boot, the result of an unspecified injury — the team describes it as right ankle discomfort — he sustained before Wednesday’s game. Rogers will be re-evaluated in a week.

>>> Saturday’s game: Red Sox (RHP Hector Velazquez) at Pirates (RHP Chad Kuhl), 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. Webcast: pirates.com

Also pitching for Red Sox: RH Joe Kelly, RH Matt Barnes, RH Kyle Martin, LH Fernando Abad, RH Chandler Shepherd, RH Jamie Callahan, RH Ben Taylor

Also pitching for Pirates: LH Tony Watson, RH Daniel Hudson, LH Wade LeBlanc, RH Jared Hughes, RH Pat Light

>>> Sunday’s game: Pirates (RHP Jameson Taillon) at Yankees (RHP Masahiro Tanaka), 1:05 p.m., Steinbrenner Field, Tampa. Radio: 93.7 FM.

Also pitching for Yankees: LH Aroldis Chapman, LH Tommy Layne, RH Tyler Clippard, RH Luis Cessa, RH Yefry Ramirez, RH Chance Adams

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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Pirates A.M. — Call him Mr. OBP

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MarteClapBy Rob Biertempfel

LAKELAND, Fla. — Starling Marte drew two bases on balls in yesterday’s game against the Twins. Think about that. Let it sink in a moment. A guy who’s never walked more than 33 times in any of his five seasons in the majors now has done it three times in his first plate appearances of spring training. Call him Mr. OBP.

“I’m just seeing the ball good,” Marte said. “I just want to calm down a little bit and swing at strikes. I’m working a lot at that, but I’m not thinking I need to take a lot of walks. I’m just waiting for the pitchers to throw me strikes.”

Manager Clint Hurdle says it’s a sign of Marte’s increasing maturity at the plate: “He’s growing. The experience factor is starting to play. He’s understanding the fight in the box and what (pitchers) are trying to do. They’re trying to get him out by not throwing strikes. The patience, the ability to read early and not feel like he has to jump the fastball. He can just hit the fastball. Two walks in a game is somewhat of an outlier for him, but it’s never not good when he gets two walks.”

SelfPromotion2>>> If you want to stay up on Pittsburgh sports news without doing a ton of searching on the web, you ought to consider signing up for the Trib’s new, free daily email newsletter, “The Sports Page.” Every morning at 7, you’ll get an email with our top eight sports stories — a mix of pro, college and high school events. It’s easy to sign up — just got to http://signup.triblive.com/ — and, best of all, it’s free.

>>> You want links? I’ve got links:

Pat Light is throwing the “pitch of the ‘80s” in 2017 

Josh Lindblom has a sort of homecoming in Fort Myers 

Pirates 3, Twins 1  John Jaso goes deep.


LittlefieldParking>>> Today’s game: Pirates at Tigers, 1:05 P.M., Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium, Lakeland, Fla. Webcast: pirates.com

Pirates (4-2): Adam Frazier 5, Josh Harrison 4, Andrew McCutchen 9, Francisco Cervelli 2, Jordy Mercer 6, Jose Osuna 3, Elias Diaz DH, Eury Perez 8, Barrett Barnes 7. LHP Steven Brault

Also pitching for Pirates: RH Trevor Williams, LH Tyler Webb, RH Tyler Eppler

Tigers (3-4): Ian Kinsler 4, Victor Martinez DH, Miguel Cabrera 3, J.D. Martinez 9, Justin Upton 7, Alex Avila 2, Mikie Mahtook 8, Omar Infante 5, Jose Iglesias 6. RHP Justin Verlander

Also pitching for Tigers: LH Chad Bell, LH Blaine Hardy, LH Kyle Ryan, LH Daniel Stumpf, RH Ruben Alaniz

>>> Friday’s game: Orioles (LHP Wade Miley) at Pirates (RHP Gerrit Cole), 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. Radio: 93.7 FM

Also pitching for Pirates: RHP Tyler Glasnow, RH Drew Hutchison.

>>> Saturday’s game: Red Sox (LHP Brian Johnson) at Pirates (RHP Jameson Taillon), 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. Webcast: pirates.com

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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Pirates A.M. — Freese ‘fun to watch’ at 1B (but not today)

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FreeseThrow2017By Rob Biertempfel

FORT MYERS, Fla. — David Freese played in nine games (one start) at first base over the first seven seasons of his big league career. Last year with the Pirates, Freese played first base in 58 games, including 34 starts. He made only three errors in 378 chances at what for him was essentially a new position.

“He’s got some gifted skills,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “When he made the move over to first base from spring training into last season, that might be the quickest I’ve seen a guy go over there and look like he’d played a lot of first base when in reality he had minimal experience. The range is legit and I think it’s the work as much as anything. First-step quickness. Anticipation. He’ll leave his feet and go horizontal for a ball at the drop of a hat. He’s fun to watch.”

Given the uncertainty that surrounds Jung Ho Kang, Freese will start at third base in today’s game against the Twins. Eric Wood will spell Freese at some point in the game.

PTR-Bucs10-022416>>> Planet of the aches: 1B Josh Bell (knee surgery) has been cleared for baserunning, so you can expect him to be in a Grapefruit League game lineup next week. “He is in the final stages of his preparation for game activity,” head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk said. “The goal for this week is to get him into some sim games and baserunning.” … C Francisco Cervelli (foot) reported no ill effects this morning after playing in his first game on Tuesday. … RHP Brandon Cumpton (elbow surgery) “is still making his journey though the flat-ground phase of throwing,” Tomczyk said. … RHP  Angel Sanchez (elbow surgery) and RHP Casey Sadler (elbow) will throw sim games this week. … RHP Jason Stoffell (shoulder) is throwing on flat ground. … UTIL Adam Frazier was dinged on the thumb and hit on the arm by pitch. “(He’s) sore, but he’s doing well. He’s a tough kid, so he’ll be back out where when he can,” Tomczyk said. 

>>> UPDATE 11:57 a.m. – The Pirates today came to terms on contracts with their 21 pre-arb players. That group includes Jameson Taillon, Steven Brault, A.J. Schugel, Trevor Williams, Chad Kuhl and Adam Frazier. None of the salaries were revealed, but most (if not all) will be around the $535,000 minimum big league salary.

After chatting with some folks over the past couple of days, I have not heard any complaints about the process this year. Last year, Gerrit Cole was unhappy with a contract that essentially gave him no significant raise after winning 19 games in 2015. This season? “Everything is fine. Not too dissimilar to every other team,” one agent told me. Perhaps the front office learned from that public spat — recall that GM Neal Huntington said management would re-evaluate and possibly tweak its contract calculation process — and is taking a gentler approach with the players.

>>> You want links? I’ve got links:

When they told Adam Frazier to find an outfielder’s mitt, he thought he was being pranked. 

Ivan Nova says he having his best spring training ever.

Blue Jays 12, Pirates nil. Ouch. 

>>> Wednesday’s game: Pirates at Twins, 1:05 p.m., Hammond Stadium, Fort Myers. Radio: 93.7 FM

Pirates: Phil Gosselin 4, Starling Marte 8, Gregory Polanco 7, David Freese 5, John Jaso 3, Kevin Newman 6, Danny Ortiz 9, Jin-De Jhang DH, Jackson Williams 2. RHP Josh Lindblom

Also pitching for Pirates: RH Jared Hughes, RH Dovydas Neverauskas, LH Dan Runzler, RH Edgar Santana, LH Jared Lakind, LH Cody Dickson.

Twins: Zach Granite 9, Joe Mauer 3, Brain Dozier 4, Byung-ho Park DH, Jason Castro 2, Drew Stubbs 8, Robbie Grossman 7, Matt Hague 5, Ehire Adrianza 6. RHP Kyle Gibson

Also pitching for Twins: RH Ryan Vogelsong, LH Craig Breslow, LH Stephen Gonsalves, RH Aaron Slegers, RH Felix Jorge, RH Fernando Romero

>>> Thursday’s game: Pirates (LHP Steven Brault) at Tigers (RHP Justin Verlander), 1:05 P.M., Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium, Lakeland, Fla. Webcast: pirates.com

Also pitching for Pirates: RH Trevor Williams, LH Tyler Webb, RH Tyler Eppler

Also pitching for Tigers: LH Chad Bell, LH Blaine Hardy, LH Kyle Ryan, LH Daniel Stumpf, RH Ruben Alaniz

>>> Friday’s game: Orioles (LHP Wade Miley) at Pirates (RHP Gerrit Cole), 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. Radio: 93.7 FM

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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Pirates A.M. — Taking notice of Nova

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By Rob Biertempfel

GTR-Bucs12-021517BRADENTON, Fla. — When Ivan Nova re-signed with the Pirates in late December, his teammates took notice.

“It speaks for the type of guys we have around here,” Gerrit Cole said. “Not just with Ivan, but with David (Freese) and John (Jaso) and Matt Joyce, guys like that coming in. It speaks to the clubhouse atmosphere. It speaks to the (coaches) and the pitching philosophy. There’s a lot of good going on here. That’s touched a lot of guys and they want to stay. That’s just wonderful.”

Nova probably left money on the table when he OK’d his three-year, $26 million deal.

“That’s huge, especially for what we signed him for,” catcher Chris Stewart said. “We were able to open up some money to sign other guys. What he did for us last year was amazing and we expect nothing less from him this year. To have him around for the next three years is going to be huge for us.”

>>> You want links? I’ve got links:

If it seems to you that every pitcher in Pirates camp is working on a changeup, you’re correct. Chad Kuhl talks about his in the video above.

FreeseLaughClint Hurdle says there is a leisure suit and disco ball lurking somewhere inside David Freese, and he might be right. 

The Pirates on Monday edged the Blue Jays, 2-1 

>>> Tuesday’s game: Blue Jays at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. Webcast: pirates.com

Blue Jays: Ezequiel Carrera 8, Gregorio Petit 6, Kendrys Morales DH, Rowdy Tellez 1B, Reese McGuire 2, Anthony Alford 9, Jake Elmore 4, Dwight Smith Jr. 7, Jon Berti 5. RHP Lucas Harrell

Also pitching for Blue Jays: RH Casey Lawrence, RH Jarrett Grube, LHJeff Beliveau, RH Wil Browning, RH Glenn Sparkman, LH T.J. House, LH Chad Girodo

UPDATE 9:35 a.m. — Elias Diaz is a healthy scractch and will be replaced by Francisco Cervelli. This will be Cervelli’s first Grapefruit League game this spring. The new lineup looks like this …

Pirates: Adam Frazier 7, Josh Harrison 4, Andrew McCutchen 9, Francisco Cervelli 2, Joey Terdoslavich DH, Jordy Mercer 6, Jose Osuna 3, Austin Meadows 8, Phil Gosselin 5. RHP Ivan Nova.

Also pitching for Pirates: LH Tony Watson, RH Daniel Hudson, LH Felipe Rivero, RH Juan Nicasio, LH Antonio Bastardo, RH Pat Light, RH A.J. Schugel.

>>> Wednesday’s game: Pirates (RHP Josh Lindblom) at Twins (RHP Kyle Gibson), 1:05 p.m., Hammond Stadium, Fort Myers. Radio: 93.7 FM

Also pitching for Pirates: RH Jared Hughes, RH Dovydas Neverauskas, LH Dan Runzler, RH Edgar Santana, LH Jared Lakind, LH Cody Dickson.

Also pitching for Twins: RH Ryan Vogelsong, LH Craig Breslow, LH Stephen Gonsalves, RH Aaron Slegers, RH Felix Jorge, RH Fernando Romero

>>> Thursday’s game: Pirates (LHP Steven Brault) at Tigers (RHP Justin Verlander), 1:05 P.M., Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium, Lakeland, Fla. Webcast: pirates.com

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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