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The Pirates will face the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday at 1:05 PM.
Charlie Morton will be taking the mound against David Price in Port Charlotte in the Grapefruit league opener. Morton will pitch two innings, followed by Brad Lincoln who will also pitch two innings.
This gives the staff a good look at both starters who are in the running for the 5th spot in the rotation.
So what is pitching coach Ray Searage looking for? “All I’m looking for right now is the aggressive approach, first-pitch strikes and attacking the bottom of the zone.”
They will be followed by Chris Resop, Daniel Moskos, Daniel McCutchen and Justin Thomas and Cesar Valdez, who will all pitch one inning each.
Here is the Pirates starting lineup:
Jose Tabata 7
Neil Walker 4
Andrew McCutchen 8
Pedro Alvarez 5
Matt Diaz 9
Lyle Overbay 3
Ryan Doumit DH
Chris Snyder 2
Ronny Cedeno 6
Charlie Morton 1
The Rays starting lineup:
John Jaso 2
Johnny Damon 7
Evan Longoria 5
Manny Ramirez DH
Ben Zobrist 9
BJ Upton 8
Dan Johnson 3
Sean Rodriguez 4
Reid Brignac 6
David Price 1
The Pirates will be facing Ace David Price of the Rays. He went 19-6 with a 2.72 ERA last season.
“The guy on the mound tomorrow can spin it a little bit, he’s got some plus [velocity],” manager Clint Hurdle said on Friday. “We could be behind a little bit. So you just got to wait and show up and find out what’s going to happen.”
The starters will most likely play five innings, two at-bats each.
Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington chatted with Jim Duquette and Jody McDonald of MLB Network radio’s Baseball Today on Sunday. He discussed: Clint Hurdle’s energy, the impact by the new Veterans, the closers role, young prospects who could make their debuts, and a possible long term extension with Andrew McCutchen.
On Clint Hurdle’s energy: “It’s great to know that we got Clint leading this group and the excitement, the enthusiasm, knowledge, the passion, and the intensity he brings, it’s going to be different for our players. We felt like we needed a new voice, new direction and not only with Clint but with our staff. We got a great staff in place. Our guys are excited. They are looking forward to this year. Looking forward to surprising some people.”
On the reason Huntington sough out Veterans Matt Daiz and Lyle Overbay: “Obviously, coming off a tough season, we wanted to get better. We knew we needed to upgrade our rotation, try to upgrade our bullpen, wanted some offensive ability. We wanted to improve our defense. When you win 57 games you pretty much need to improve everywhere. We had a lot of great young players who we’re excited about. This group of 25 and under both at the major league level and through our system is going to be the foundation of our future success. We are hoping we can have some current success. Guys like [Kevin] Correia, [Scott] Olsen, can add some veteran presence to our rotation. We got some guys that are competing to make our bullpen whether, it’s [Joe] Beimel or [Jose] Veras, that can help out [Joel] Hanrahan and [Evan] Meek, who were so good for us last year. Overbay, we upgrade defensively at first base with Garrett Jones in a platoon situation in right field…We put Garret in a position to be successful. Then we added Matt Diaz and all of a sudden we have a very productive right field…You talk to the people that were around that Atlanta [Braves] club, whether it’s front office people, people in the dugout, people around that club, Matt was one of their leaders last year. Lyle is a constant professional. And we needed to help Neil Walker and Jose Tabata and Andrew McCutchen, take some of the pressure off them. Let them go play and provide some of that veteran leadership to help them mature both on the field and off.”
On what Huntington is looking for this spring, compared to last: “I think our guys believe that we’re ready to start taking a huge step forward. In the past we hoped. And we kind of looked around and wondered who the guy was, that was going to put the team on his back and carry it. Now, we got a handful of guys that are capable of doing that…Talking with our guys, reading their quotes in the papers, they believe we can take a huge step forward this year. Clint’s only going to foster that. Our staff is only going to help that. There’s no question; we need to take a big step forward this year.”
On if there is an open competition between Hanrahan and Meek for the closers role at spring training: “We are going to go with one guy. We have not announced it publicly first. We honestly spent more time trying to see if there was a veteran closer, as we have with Octavio Dotel last year. That would come in here and close out some games, and allow Clint to use meek and Hanrahan anywhere through the sixth through the eighth. That worked out really well for us…We weren’t able to do that. Our energy and our focus has been on preparing for spring training. It’s been on trying to recruit some guys to try to come in here and step forward. We will meet as a staff, Clint, and Ray Searage and I will sit down and we will identify who is going to be our closer. No it won’t be an open competition at spring training. It’s too tough…It’s not like we got a bad choice. Whichever guy we go with, we believe can close games at the major league level and believe will do a nice job for us…We will commit to somebody and over an extended period of time and they will get the opportunity to show us that they can hold the job. The other guy is going to be getting big outs for us in the seventh or the eighth inning.”
On what young prospects could make their debuts this year: “Any of that rotation that was in Double-A last year that led that club to the Eastern League Championship. Whether it’s Rudy Owens, Justin Wilson, or Bryan Morris, Jeff Locke, there may be some of the guys out of the bullpen that get here quicker. Danny Moskos has great stuff from the left side, we just got to build that confidence that allows him to feel like his stuff can compete. There may be a couple guys that kind of surprise some people. Position player wise, there are some guys moving up from that group. Gorkys Hernandez, Andrew Lambo that are probably a little ways away. There is a good wave of talent coming through…If those guys don’t show up instantaneously, it’s not Sidney Crosby or Lebron James, that show up at the highest level on the day that they sign. It takes years. For Pedro Alvarez to get here in essentially in two calendar years is quick decent. We are looking forward to that next group of guys from the ’08 draft and ’08 signing class getting here.”
On Chris Snyder’s key to getting back to past years: “We traded for Chris to help our pitching staff. To stabilize the game calling, to stabilize our young starters, to help them get through tough innings, to help them get through tough outings. Whether it was the pitching coach change or Chris Synder traded for in late July, it did that. Our starting pitchers really threw the ball much better in August and September…He’s excited to get a full offseason of workouts. He’s coming, from what we’ve been told, in very good shape….In last offseason, his offseason was impacted by the back surgery and this is his first real healthy offseason in a while. He’s fired up to come in and help us.”
On potentially doing a long term deal with Andrew McCutchen: “They key to any of those situations is; One: the club wants it to happen, and we do. Two: the player wanting it to happen and that doesn’t always happen. Contracts take a willingness to share a risk of these type of situations. In some cases the club isn’t willing to take on that risk and other cases the player isn’t willing to compromise his potential future earnings value. He’s not interested in the security, he’d rather go out and see how much he can make year in and year out. Or, he doesn’t feel it’s the right time…It is something we absolutely intend to do. But the only way these deals get done is if two sides are interested in it.”
On what starter needs to step up this year: “…We need a multitude of guys to step forward. We need Paul Maholm to do what Paul Maholm did, whether it’s in ’08 or at least in ’09 and not what he did in ’10…Kevin Correia, we are looking forward for him to bounce back two what he was in ’09 given a very tough 2010 season both on and off the field. Charlie Morton has got tremendous stuff, yeah we need Charlie to take a step up. We need Ross Ohlendorf to stay healthy the whole year. We need to give him some run support. James McDonald. Can he do what he did for us the last two months of the season? Can he do that over the course of the season? Scott Olsen. Can we get that stuff to play on a consistent basis and get him back healthy. Can we get Brad Lincoln back to where he was? The nice part is, here comes that Owens, Wilson, Locke, Morris group that if we have some struggles, we’ve got some depth. Jeff Karstens did a nice job through five innings, as pretty much as anybody in baseball, just seemed to hit a wall in that sixth and seventh inning. The reality is, there isn’t just one person that needs to step forward for us to go where we believe we can go. We are going to need a couple guys to step up.”
ESPN writer Jayson Stark graded the National League Central on Tuesday and gave the Pirates a C+. Here is his thoughts on the Bucs offseason moves.
BIGGEST ADDITIONS: Lyle Overbay, Matt Diaz, Kevin Correia, Scott Olsen, Garrett Atkins, Joe Beimel, manager Clint Hurdle.
BIGGEST SUBTRACTIONS: Zach Duke, Lastings Milledge, Chan Ho Park, manager John Russell.
The task of making the Pirates respectable now falls to Clint Hurdle.
Look, it’s all relative. You don’t evaluate a Pirates offseason by the same standards you use to evaluate, say, a Yankees offseason, just the way a good year for Joe’s Computer Repair Shop isn’t quite the same thing as a good year for, say, Microsoft. So judged against what the Pirates were attempting to do, they did OK.
Jorge De la Rosa and Carl Pavano — both of whom they chased — would have been better rotation upgrades than Correia and Olsen. But Overbay, while he’s not exactly Adrian Gonzalez, should be an improvement over last year’s first-base hodgepodge. Diaz is a career .301/.350/.456 hitter. And there are potential bargains in their nonroster free-agent crop (Beimel, Atkins, Jose Veras, Fernando Nieve, Josh Fields).
Then there’s Hurdle, who will represent about as dramatic a change in the manager’s office, when you compare him with the soft-spoken Russell, as this team could have hired. So while it would be a monumental upset if this turns into the year the Buccos climb above Mount .500, they at least inched northward.
On Monday, MLB.com Fantasy released the Top 100 fantasy players for the 2011 season. Andrew McCutchen (52) and Pedro Alvarez (79) made the list.
In Part one, here is the list of the Pirates starters and bench players projected stats for the new season.
- Chris Snyder (C ) Ranked: 451
2011 projections: 325 AB, .215 AVG, 35 R, 13 HR, 45 RBI, 0 SB, .318 OBP, .363 SLG, .681 OPS
Notes: What Snyder lacks for in batting average, he makes up for in power, smacking at least 13 homers in four of his last five seasons. He will likely supplant Ryan Doumit as Pittsburgh’s primary backstop this season.
- Lyle Overbay (1B) Ranked: 294
2011 projection: 510 AB, .269 AVG, 66 R, 17 HR, 74 RBI, 1 SB, .346 OBP, .437 SLG, .783 OPS
Notes: Overbay probably wont show much more power in Pittsburgh, but his average should come up a it and RBI opportunities will be plentiful hitting behind table-setters Jose Tabata and Andrew McCutchen.
- Neil Walker (2B) Ranked: 144
2011 projection: 570 AB, .284 AVG, 80 R, 17 HR, 84 RBI, 5 SB, .338 OBP, .449 SLG, 787 OPS
Notes: The 25-year-old appears entrenched in the third spot in the Pirates’ order in 2011, so a repeat of his ’10 performance could result in 90-plus RBI’s.
- Pedro Alvarez (3B) Ranked: 79
2011 projection: 559 AB, .263 AVG, 80 R, 28 HR, 89 RBI, 2 SB, .340 OBP, .481 SLG, .821 OPS
Notes: With his prodigious power, Alvarez is in Pittsburgh to stay, and the strikeouts won’t prevent him from putting up impressive numbers in his first full big league campaign.
- Ronny Cedeno (SS) Ranked: 425
2011 projection: 415 AB, .255 AVG, 40 R, 8 HR, 37 RBI, 9 SB, .295 OBP, .383 SLG, .678 OPS
Notes: The 28-year-old infielder has hit a combined .257 over the last two seasons and a lack of plate discipline (career 4.6 percent walk-rate) has prevented him from becoming a more complete hitter.
- Jose Tabata (LF) Ranked: 148
2011 projection: 560 AB, .288 AVG, 84 R, 6 HR, 57 RBI, 31 SB, .337 OBP, .396 SLG, .734 OPS
Notes: The 22-year-old doesn’t walk much and his power hasn’t materialized, but he should wind up around the National League leaders in steals with a full season of at-bats in 2011.
- Andrew McCutchen (CF) Ranked:52
2011 projection: 585 AB, .292 AVG, 103 R, 18 HR, 68 RBI, 37 SB, .371 OBP, .473 SLG, .845 OPS
Notes: A complete package of talent, 24-year-old has speed, power and a keen batting eye. Playing in Pittsburgh may reduce his name recognition, but McCutchen’s numbers will ensure plenty of National attention in the years to come.
- Matt Diaz (RF) Ranked: 501 / Garrett Jones (RF) Ranked: 399 —platoon
2011 Projections (Diaz): 240 AB, .288 AVG, 28 R, 8 HR, 32 RBI, 5 SB, .329 OBP, .471 SLG, .800 OPS
Notes: Diaz saw his numbers fall drastically across in the board in 2010, but he’s always shown the ability to torch southpaws (career .907 OPS vs. LHP). The 32-year-old will be asked to do just that in Pittsburgh, where he’ll see most of his time in a right-field platoon with Garrett Jones.
2011 projections (Jones): 370 AB, .259 AVG, 45 R, 13 HR, 58 RBI, 3 SB, .322 OBP, .435 SLG, .757 OPS
Notes: The late blooming 29-year-old should still rack up around 350 at-bats, but his overall production is due to take a major hit.
- Ryan Doumit (C/OF) Ranked: 467
2011 projections: 292 AB, .267 AVG, 36 R, 10 HR, 40 RBI, 2 SB, .318 OBP, .432 SLG, .750 OPS
Notes: Despite the ability to play three positions, Doumit may be the odd man out in Pittsburgh. Doumit a $5 million bench player and likely trade candidate.
- John Bowker (OF) Ranked: 556
2011 projections: 218 AB, .266 AVG, 23 R, 8 HR, 26 RBI, 1 SB, .331 OBP, .431 SLG, .762 OPS
Notes: A July trade to Pittsburgh gave Bowker another chance to establish himself a big league regular. The 27-year-old struggles to hit left-handers and the Pirates starting outfield appears set. Bowker has some power, and he could carve out a decent niche in a part-time role.
- Josh Fields (3B) Ranked: 526
2011 projections: 246 AB, .252 AVG, 26 R, 8 HR, 30 RBI, 2 SB, .313 OBP, .390 SLG, .704 OPS
Notes: Fields will attempt to get his career back on track in Pittsburgh after several injury-plagued seasons. He could stick with the big club if his health holds up and rediscover some value as a utility man.
- Josh Rodriguez (SS) Ranked: 787
2011 projections: 159 AB, .252 AVG, 13 R, 5 HR, 11 RBI, 3 SB, .328 OBP, .415 SLG, .743 OPS
Notes: Rodriguez has played three in field positions and even some outfield as a pro. That defensive flexibility –along with some offensive ability –could spell a pretty good career as a utility man, staring in ’11.
** MLB.com Fantasy also listed:
- Garrett Atkins (1B) Ranked: 722
2011 projections: 148 AB, .236 AVG, 9 R, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 0 SB, .302 OBP, .351 SLG, .654 OPS
- Steve Pearce (1B) Ranked: 820
2011 projections: 70 SB, .229 AVG, 10 R, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 1 SB, .289 OBP, .329 SLG, .618 OPS
- Jeff Clement (1B) Ranked: 786
2011 projections: 92 AB, .239, 13 R, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 0 SB, .300 OBP, .391 SLG, .691 OPS
After starting 154 games last season with the Pirates –majority at first base, Garrett Jones will be platooning in right field with Veteran Matt Diaz this year. Although this transition will be tough on the 29-year-old, Jones wants what’s best for the team.
“I feel like I am an everyday guy and I want to be an everyday guy, but right now I look at the positives,” Jones said. “As of right now, they feel these guys are going to definitely help the team. They’ve played for good teams and have some years under their belt. They’re also going to help our lineup. With me and [Matt] Diaz switching out in the outfield, it’s going to be good.”
Jones will be the starting right fielder against right-handed starters (.262 average in 2010), Diaz against lefties (.335 career average).
“We’re going with good guys and it’s a good situation,” Jones said. “I’m excited just to be in the lineup still. I’m also going to get more days off, which is going to keep me mentally and physically vigorous. I’m not going to have those mental and physical breakdowns from when you play every day.”
This offseason Jones has been training harder than he has in the past. He hired a speed trainer while focusing on flexibility, feetwork and agility. Jones has also spent more time in the weight room and dropped five to six pounds.
“I think last year I was a little bulky,” Jones said. “I think losing those extra pounds is key for me in the outfield. Physically, I feel great. I feel better than I have ever felt in terms of flexibility and speed. I’m excited for this year.”
“The swing feels great right now,” Jones said. “I’m just looking forward to getting out on the field and playing some games.”
On Tuesday’s edition of Hot Stove on MLB Network, they showcased the Pittsburgh Pirates in part of the 30 Clubs in 30 Recaps.
Here is what the analysts had to say:
“1992 was the last season in which Pittsburgh finished with a winning record. For a once proud franchise the Buccos have become somewhat of a forgotten team in their own city. It also doesn’t help the Penguins won a Stanley cup two years ago, and Sunday, the Steelers can win their third super bowl in six years. We look back at the 2010 Pittsburgh Pirates.”
*Video clips through out the season were showed. Garrett Jones two run homerun on opening day, Evan Meek’s first career save (against the Dodgers), Andrew McCutchen’s hot month of May (.327 avg), the rookie debuts of Neil Walker, Jose Tabata and Pedro Alvarez, the 12 straight losses, Alvarez’s walk-off three run homer against the Rockies, notching the 18th consecutive losing season, John Russell getting fired, and the hiring of Clint Hurdle.
Greg Amsinger: “Another rough season in 2010 for the Pirates. Hence all of these changes:”
Pirates Notable transactions this offseason by MLB Network:
RP Joe Beimel
SP Kevin Correia
OF Matt Diaz
3B Josh Fields
SP Scott Olsen
1B Lyle Overbay
SS Cesar Valdez
SP Zach Duke
SP Dana Eveland
RP Chan Ho Park
3B Andy LaRoche
RP Joe Martinez
OF Lastings Milledge
Amsinger: “Zach Duke is gone. He’s not going to be in that rotation. Andy LaRoche is not going to be at third base. Lastings Milledge is still a free agent so who knows where he’ll go. But you see all the additions. The biggest addition though, is the skipper of this club, Clint Hurdle.”
Todd Zeile: “I agree with you 100 percent. Clint, you heard him in the press conference say, ‘It’s got to turn eventually. We’re not going to back down to anybody.’ That’s the kind of mentality Clint Hurdle has. I think he truly believes in it. I think he instills that kind of confidence in his players –especially young players. In 2002, Clint took over for Buddy Bell, when Buddy Bell was fired. We were on the ropes. We had a bunch of veteran guys that he just let play. But at the same time, we had a guy named Juan Uribe, who we saw in the world series last year, this guy was as raw and unfettered as you could find. Clint found a way to get him to hone in his skills, but still let him play and didn’t destroy his confidence. He made sure he knew every time he walked out there, Clint believed in him. I think he’s got that same kind of capability. Look, realistically, they are looking to the future. While they got a lot of kids on that team that have a lot of potential in the future, including Pedro Alvarez. You showed the highlight of him, Alvarez had a really rough start but finished really strong. A guy like Clint I think can help take him to the next level.”
Al Lieter: “I agree. I love Clint. You mentioned about Alvarez, Greg Smith their scouting director, whole new deal there. Neal Huntington a whole lot different from Dave Littlefield, cleaning up the mess. You have a $40 million payroll. I think about all the additions and what is important. I think what is important is your starting rotation. No question about it. I go to what the Padres did last year. You have really nice quality pitchers like the Padres did in [Clayton] Richard, [Mat] Latos, and [Wade] LeBlanc. You have to get something out of your guys and look for the future. You got James McDonald, nice pickup with the Dodgers. Paul Maholm, making a lot of money right now for what he’s bringing in. Ross Ohlendorf was 1-11. You bring in a guy with some innings, that you can bring in a Kevin Correia that can maybe hold over for the future. This is about draft picks, this is about your player development. Everything that goes on from the bottom up, to eventually find that diamond. That’s what I would be sitting on and I look to the Padres. Last year, two teams under $40 million dollars in payroll: both the Pirates and the Padres. It starts with pitching.”
Harold Reynolds: “It does. It actually starts with draft also. I love what Clint Hurdle can bring to the table. You got to be positive with the young guys. You heard me say, ‘You got to play the young talent’. Some of the guys they are bringing in, the draft they had last year. They had two top picks, you get [Jameson] Taillon and you also get [Stetson] Allie, who should have been a number one pick as well. So they get those two guys to get it going in the minor leagues. It starts with pitching. You can move pitching and you can add players with having good pitching. But I love the fact that guys they have in the big leagues already. With [Andrew] McCutchen, I love [Neil] Walker the second baseman, and you look at Alvarez. Those three guys are a great core to start with and you go from there. The Pirates are on up!
Amsinger: “It’s a great sports city. They love the penguins, of course they love the Steelers, if they can get a winning product there for the Pirates they will come fill the most beautiful ball park in the game.”
Pirates Projected Rotation (According to MLB Network)
With only two weeks until Pitchers and Catchers report to spring training, Pirates beat reporter Jenifer Langosch answered fans questions in this weeks inbox (You can read the entire article here).
Of all the non-roster players invited to Spring Training, which ones probably have the best chance of sticking with the Bucs?
Let’s look at the position players first. Depending on whether the Pirates opt to carry three catchers or not, there will be two or three bench spots left to fill. You can already pencil in Ryan Doumit and one of Matt Diaz/Garrett Jones into two of the bench openings. That makes finding some backup infielders the immediate priority.
Corey Wimberly is an intriguing non-roster invite, in my opinion, because he has the versatility to play across the infield and outfield. His speed would be a major asset off the bench, and he has hit well at each Minor League level. Wimberly’s chances of making the roster will be directly affected by what the Pirates see in Rule 5 pick Josh Rodriguez.
It’s also looking like the Pirates’ backup corner infielder will come out of the non-roster invite list. Garrett Atkins, Josh Fields and Andy Marte are all candidates to win that spot. I might give Atkins the slight edge simply because he has proven himself at the Major League level and has a prior relationship with manager Clint Hurdle.
On the pitching side of things, the Pirates could be poised to add a number of non-roster players by the time Spring Training ends. Joe Beimel, who signed a Minor League deal on Friday, is almost a lock. With so many vacancies in the bullpen, look for Justin Thomas, Fernando Nieve, Sean Gallagher and Jose Veras to make pushes for open spots.
What do you think of Charlie Morton coming out of the bullpen?
While the Pirates are going to give Morton every chance to make the starting rotation, the club is ready to consider him for the bullpen as a fallback option. A large reason for that is because Morton is out of options and cannot be sent to the Minors without being exposed to other clubs on waivers. So if Scott Olsen wins the job as the team’s fifth starter, expect Morton to be fighting for one of the open spots in the ‘pen.
Garrett Jones has a different role going into the 2011 season. After starting 106 games at first base, 46 in right field for the Bucs last season, he will be platooning in right field with Matt Diaz.
“I guess you can say it is kind of a demotion for me, not being in the lineup every day,” Jones said. “It is just going to be who is hitting, and maybe, for now, there isn’t an everyday guy out there, but it is my goal to make my way back into being that everyday guy. The way you do that is that you hit and you make them put you in there. That’s the ultimate challenge for me and, really, it is up to me to have it not be a choice for them. The way I do that is hit.”
“I’m going to try to work my way into being in there every day,” Jones said. “All I can do is do my part and play hard. All I can worry about is doing my job, helping this team win. If that is a lefty-righty thing, that is what it is.”
Despite getting less playing time this season, Jones work ethic has not changed.
“Garrett said he is willing to do whatever he needs to do because he wants to play,” Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. “He knows, right now, he is going to be our right fielder against right-handed pitching, that is his role. But, there is always a chance to be more depending on how some other things go.”
- Ross Ohlendorf and Joel Hanrahan filed for salary arbitration on Friday. They are the only two Pirates to file, just 119 players in major league baseball.
- Garrett Jones arrived at mini camp on Thursday (he was late due to a family wedding in Mexico) noticeably thinner and “a little bit faster, too.” Jones weighed 255 last season and is said to have dropped 10 pounds. This offseason Jones has been diligently working with a speed enhancement and velocity trainer.
- Pirates beat reporter Jenifer Langosch addressed the possible future of five players as spring training approaches us.
Jose Ascanio missed the entire 2010 season due to an injury but has pitched well during the Venezuelan Winter League. Most likely, his role in 2011 will be as a reliever.
Kevin Hart missed the entire 2010 season as well, he underwent labrum surgery after a disastrous spring training. Hart is currently healthy and threw during Pirates mini camp. His role in 2011 would most likely be as a reliever, until he can prove himself as a starter.
Charlie Morton had a horrible first two months of the season, picking up nine losses and then was optioned to Triple-A Indy. He pitched much better toward the end of the season but the Pirates are still unsure whether he is mentally tough enough. Morton will be competing for the fifth spot in the rotation during spring training.
Chris Resop is one of the leading candidates in the Pirates ‘pen. After being claimed off waivers in August, he allowed four earned runs and struck out 24 in 19 innings.
John Bowker will be competing for a spot as an extra outfielder along with Alex Presley, Steve Pearce, Cory Wimberly and Ryan Doumit (Garrett Jones and Matt Diaz will split the majority of the playing time in right field this season). Bowker was acquired in July by the San Franscio Giants and batted hit .232 in 26 games with the Pirates.
Some news and notes from day three of mini camp:
- Jose Tabata played against Jorge Julio (who recently signed a minor league deal with the Pirates) this offseason during winter ball. “He looked good,” Tabata said. “He’s still a good pitcher.”
- Players have noticed Tabata’s offseason weight gain by refering to him as “a beast.” Altough he claims to weigh 212 (Pirates media guide said he weighed 210 last year) it’s all muscle, not fat.
“Yeah, I’m bigger,” Tabata said, grinning. “I worked out in the gym every day this winter. I want to be bigger and stronger. This year, my idea is to hit more home runs.”
Tabata hopes that the added strength will help him produce more homeruns during the 2011 season.
“It’s a good feeling,” Tabata said. “But I have to be careful not to let it change my swing. Sometimes, when you want to hit home runs, your swing gets real long. I can’t let that happen.”
- Matt Diaz, Lyle Overbay, Joel Hanrahan, Neil Walker and Ross Ohlendorf held a round table discussion with some of the Bucs top minor leaguers. “I have no idea what I’m going to tell them,” Ohlendorf said. “I’ll come up with something.”
Tony Sanchez tweeted later that night saying, “had a good meeting with Hurd and some of the older big leaguers. lots of insight on how life is as a big leaguer.”
- Sanchez also broke the news (via twitter) that he was invited to spring training: “Just got the word that im invited to Big League Camp. Unreal! Get to pretend im one of the guys… “
- MLB Trade Rumors is reporting that the Pirates are one of six teams that have offered Jose Veras a minor league deal with an invite to spring training.
Veras posted a 3.85 ERA in 48 innings for the Marlins in 2010.