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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Pirates A.M. — Kuhl wants to be a slump-buster

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BlueJays2By Rob Biertempfel

DUNEDIN, Fla. — Chad Kuhl believes the “sophomore slump” can be a thing, but he’s not fretting about it this season. “I don’t think you can worry about it,” he said. “We’re focused on being the best we can be. We know that a lot of (the team’s success) is going to fall on our shoulders. You prepare for everyone’s best. I’ve faced really good lineups and really good opposing pitchers. I had a string where I was going up against aces. Having that experience, knowing that everyone’s doing the same thing we are — getting better and getting prepared — you know you have to out-work and out-prepare them. Just be ready.”

>>> UPDATE 7:58 a.m. — Adam Frazier took some swings in the cage a few minutes ago and said his sore left thumb is good to go. “I could have played today, but I’m not on the (travel) roster,” Frazier said, adding that he’ll instead go through a full workout at LECOM Park. Frazier injured his thumb while trying to bunt on Saturday and had it drained the next day. “It’s still sore, but I can play,” he said. … Also, Austin Meadows‘ right forearm was lightly wrapped this morning. He was hit there by a pitch during Sunday’s game v. the Orioles.

>>> Monday’s game: Pirates at Blue Jays, 1:05 p.m., Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, Dunedin. Webcast: pirates.com

Pirates: Eury Perez 9, Startling Marte 8, Gregory Polanco 7, David Freese 5, John Jaso 3, Chris Bostic 4, Eric Weiss DH, Jacob Stallings 2, Gift Ngoepe 6. RHP Chad Kuhl

Also pitching for Pirates: LH Wade LeBlanc, RH Nick Kingham, RH Clay Holmes

Blue Jays: Kevin Pillar 8, Jose Bautista DH, Jarrod Saltalamacchia 2, Justin Smoak, Darrell Ceciliani 7, Anthony Alford 9, Darwin Barney 4, Ryan Goins 6, Gregoria Petit 5. RHP Marcus Stroman

Also pitching for Blue Jays: RH Roberto Osuna, LH Aaron Loup, RH Mike Bolsinger, RH Danny Barnes

>>> Tuesday’s game: Blue Jays (RHP Lucas Harrell) at Pirates (RHP Ivan Nova), 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. Webcast: pirates.com

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.

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

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

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. — Keeping tabs on Taillon

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TaillonSTBy Rob Biertempfel

BRADENTON, Fla. — Jameson Taillon is scheduled to throw two innings today in his spring debut against the Orioles.

Last season, Taillon threw a total of 165 2/3 innings over 28 starts for the Pirates and Triple-A Indianapolis. It was his first game action since 2013, when the right-hander tossed 147 1/3 innings over 26 starts. He missed 2014-15 recovering from injuries.

Management already has set a target for Taillon’s workload this year (although no one is willing to divulge what it is). It could change later in the season, depending upon the number of high-stress innings and injuries (if any) Taillon encounters along the way.

“Conversations will be held when it’s appropriate,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We don’t want to be caught off guard. There’s already a built-in model of what we believe (our pitchers) can do, based on what they’ve shown. The number is never written in pen, but we do try to gauge it, based on our model and the experience we have.”

Taillon’s innings count grew by 12 percent from 2013 to ’16. Allowing for the same rate of increase this year, he would clock in at 185 innings.

>>> Sunday’s game: Pirates at Orioles, 1:05 p.m., Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota. Radio: 93.7 FM

discomfortZone2UPDATE 9:22 a.m. — Adam Frazier (left thumb discomfort) and David Freese (healthy scratch, manager’s decision) were removed from today’s lineup.  Here is the revamped lineup:

Pirates:  Phil Gosselin 4, Kevin Newman DH, Andrew McCutchen 9, Jason Rogers 5, Elias Diaz 2, Jose Osuna 3, Eric Wood 7, Austin Meadows 8, Alen Hanson 6. RHP Jameson Taillon.

Also pitching for Pirates: RHP Tyler Glasnow, RHP Drew Hutchison, RHP Jared Hughes, LHP Tyler Webb.

Orioles: Hyun-soo Kim 7, Adam Jones 8, Manny Machado 6, Chris Davis 3, Mark Trumbo DH, Seth Smith 9, Jonathan Schoop 4, Welington Castillo 2, Ryan Flaherty 5. LHP Wade Miley.

Also pitching for Orioles: RHP Joe Gunkel, LHP Chris Lee, RHP Jesus Liranzo, RHP Logan Verrett, RHP Richard Rodriguez.

>>> Gerrit Cole, who yesterday was named the opening day starter, will throw a two-inning simulated game today.

>>> From Saturday, a couple of minutes with newly minted right fielder (?!!?) Andrew McCutchen

>>> Monday’s game: Pirates (RHP Chad Kuhl) at Blue Jays (RHP Marcus Stroman), 1:05 p.m., Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, Dunedin. Webcast: pirates.com. Also pitching for Pirates: LHP Wade LeBlanc, RHP Nick Kingham, RHP Clay Holmes

>>> Tuesday’s game: Blue Jays (RHP Lucas Harrell) at Pirates (Ivan Nova), 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. Webcast: pirates.com. 

>>> UPDATE 12:17 p.m. I’ve had a few folks ask which games Root will televise this spring. Here ya go: March 6 (Yankees), 7 (Braves), 10 (Rays), 12 (Twins), 15 (Orioles), 17 (Orioles), 21 (Rays), 24 (Rays), 25 (Tigers), 27 (Twins), 28 (Red Sox) and 29 (Phillies). I’ll also list the TV/radio/webcast info for each day’s game here in the blog.

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. — Opening day

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LECOMsign2017By Rob Biertempfel

BRADENTON, Fla. — Opening day! (Sort of.) Check my blog every morning during spring training for lineups, pitching matchups, game notes and such. I’ll try to update it throughout the morning as things happen, too.

If you’re coming to the game at LECOM Park (BFKMF), allow for some extra time to pass through security. The Pirates have installed walk-though metal detectors at all gates.

>>> TODAY’S GAMES

Orioles at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton

Orioles: Joey Rickard  7, Craig Gentry 9, Manny Machado 6, Adam Jones 8, Jonathan Schoop 4, Chris Johnson 5, Trey Mancini 3, Anthony Santander DH, Audry Perez 2. Gabriel Ynoa RHP.

Also pitching for Orioles: RHP Parker Bridwell, RHP Jason Garcia, LHP Jed Bradley, RHP Zach Stewart

Pirates: Adam Frazier 6, Starling Marte 8, Andrew McCutchen 9, Gregory Polanco 7, David Freese 5, Jason Rogers 3, Alen Hanson 4, Elias Diaz 2, Barrett Barnes DH. Brault LHP.

Also pitching for Pirates: RHP Trevor Williams, LHP Tony Watson, RHP Daniel Hudson, LHP Felipe Rivero, RHP Juan Nicasio, LHP Antonio Bastardo, RHP A.J Schugel, RHP Pat Light.

Pirates at Rays, 1:05 p.m., Charlotte Sports Park, Port Charlotte

Pirates: Josh Harrison 4, Jordy Mercer 6, John Jaso 3, Eric Wood DH, Joey Terdoslavich 9, Jose Osuna 7, Phil Gosselin 5, Austin Meadows 8, Jacob Stallings 2. Josh Lindblom RHP

Also pitching for Pirates: RHP Tyler Eppler, LHP Dan Runzler, RHP Edgar Santana, LHP Jared Lakind, RHP Dovydas Neverauskas, LHP Cody Dickson

Rays: Corey Dickerson DH, Kevin Kiermaier 8, Rickie Weeks 3, Jake Bauers 7, Nick Franklin 4, Curt Casali 2, Willy Adames 6, Patrick Leonard 5, Shane Peterson 9. David Carpenter RHP

Also pitching for Rays: LHP Dana Eveland, RHP Danny Farquhar, RHP Cory Rasmus, LHP Justin Marks, RHP Neil Wagner, RHP Taylor Guerrieri

>>> Sunday’s game: Pirates (RHP Jameson Taillon) at Orioles (LHP Wade Miley), 1:05 p.m., Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota. Also pitching for Pirates: RHP Tyler Glasnow, RHP Drew Hutchison, RHP Jared Hughes, LHP Tyler Webb.

>>> Gerrit Cole will throw a two-inning simulated game on Sunday.

>>> Monday’s game: Pirates (RHP Chad Kuhl) at Blue Jays (RHP Marcus Stroman), 1:05 p.m., Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, Dunedin.

>>> Francisco Cervelli either won the cook-off after yesterday’s workout or he’s the new heavyweight champion of the world. Cervelli had a large title belt draped over his chair in the clubhouse this morning.

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

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– Rob Biertempfel