Day 9 Daily Squeeze
It was a quick day at Pirate City, much to the delight of the players and coaches down here. It meant early tee times out at the course or, in a number of cases, an extra few hours to catch up on sleep. Despite workouts lasting less than two hours, it had been an early morning for most, with all players and coaches rotating through for photo day before taking to the fields. Today’s focus was on throwing out runners, sliding, bunting and fielding comebackers. All players were off the field by noon.
As for the rest of your daily scoop…
- Third baseman Andy LaRoche (lower back spasms) did not take practice for the fourth straight day, though he did take grounders with first base coach Perry Hill beforehand. LaRoche also took about 50 swings off the tee in the batting cage. He’s optimistic that he’ll be able to take the field with his teammates on Monday and even lobbied to do so today. More details here.
- Pitchers had the day off from throwing. They will resume on Monday, with a group throwing live batting practice for the second time. Pitching coach Joe Kerrigan will have some pitchers throwing one inning (20 pitches) and others throwing two innings (35 pitches).
- Speaking of Kerrigan, he is expected to post his pitching rotation for the start of Grapefruit League games on Monday. The coaches will also sit down on Monday to piece together lineups for the first week of games.
- Manager John Russell did give a little insight into how those pitching assignments will be made. Wednesday’s game will feature nine relievers (pitching one inning apiece). Starting pitchers will then begin their buildup on Thursday. Kerrigan has identified 10 pitchers to build up as starters and you can expect two to throw in every game, one piggybacking after another.
- As for my guess on the 10 starters: Paul Maholm, Ian Snell, Tom Gorzelanny, Zach Duke, Ross Ohlendorf, Jeff Karstens, Jimmy Barthmaier, Daniel McCutchen, Jason Davis and Virgil Vasquez, perhaps?
- Speaking of Virgil Vasquez, he will be a little behind since he missed pitching in the first round of live batting practice. He is not on the list to pitch Monday, but is likely to be joining Tuesday’s group. He will need to throw BP twice before entering game play.
- As for position players, you can expect your experienced starters to play a few innings every other day to start with.
- Russell confirmed that Phil Dumatrait will continue to be built up as a starter during his rehab program. That would make it easier for the Pirates to flip him to either a starting or relieving role as necessitated.
- Russell was asked about the possibility of batting the pitcher eighth again this season. You’ll remember that Russell employed the philosophy for about a month last year and liked the results. Russell said the idea will be discussed internally again, but he didn’t appear to be overly convinced that it would be the best move considering his offensive pieces right now. Said Russell: “Looking at our lineup at the end of last year and going into this year, I don’t know if it’s going to be that advantageous for us to do it. But it’s something we’ll look at.“
- Bullpen coach Luis Dorante had to leave camp to be with his wife, who was undergoing a medical procedure. He is expected back soon. In the meantime, Russell, a former backstop, has had to help out in a catching role.
- Monday’s workouts are scheduled to start around 10 am ET and last for about three hours
Quotable: “You should watch [Jose] Tabata hit. Jose Tabata is kind of going under the radar here, but this kid has a special bat as well.” – Russell said, unsolicited after being asked about the progress of Pedro Alvarez.