Day 11: Daily Squeeze
Second baseman Aki Iwamura might be rivaling Andrew McCutchen as the most popular player here at Spring Training. It seems the Floridians who watched him play three seasons with the Rays fell in love with the guy. There was an adorable little boy yelling, “Aki! Aki! Aki!” all through the team’s infield drills. And the hoarde of autograph seekers seemed to make Iwamura a priority. You’ll see that in the photo that I snapped with my phone earlier.
As for the rest of your daily squeeze:
- There’s still no date for Octavio Dotel to begin throwing again, though it’s still expected to be sometime next week. Joel Hanrahan is still on target to have his first long toss session on Wednesday. Both pitchers will move with the team to McKechnie Field to get their work rather than stay at Pirate City.
- Today was the fourth day of live BP and it featured righty Brendan Donnelly for the first time. He had skipped his first session to throw a normal side instead. Again, there is no reason to be alarmed. He’s just being given more time to get ready since he doesn’t need as many Grapefruit League innings.
- Bullpen catcher Heberto Andrade has arrived in Bradenton after being held up in Venezuela with visa issues.
- For all of you Pittsburghers curious as to the status of hometown boy Neil Walker, here’s a piece about what’s in store for him this spring.
- Bobby Crosby worked with the second baseman during infield practice on Sunday. The Pirates plan on getting him reps all over the infield so that he can be a backup option anywhere. Steve Pearce spent the day working with the outfielders, while Garrett Jones stuck to infield work. Besides taking groundballs as usual, infielders also worked on pop-ups.
- Hitting coach Don Long had a situational hitting game going on at Field 5 for much of the morning. Here was the premise: A runner is on third and your corner infielders are playing in. On the infield grass, stretching from short to second, Long placed orange and black traffic cones. The goal was for the batters to hit balls low and hard in the direction of the cones to drive the imaginary runner in. If your hit gets him home, that’s 1 point. Hit an orange cone: 2 points. Knock an orange cone down: 5 points. Hit a black cone: 5 points. Knock a black cone down: 15 points.
- The winner of the drill was the infield group of Crosby, Iwamura, Ronny Cedeno, Ramon Vazquez. In one five-swing sequence, Crosby recorded 19 points (he knocked down a black cone obviously). That was the high round of the day.
- It was photo day in the morning, and players/coaches/manager had their photos taken by 12 outlets.
- Monday marks the final day of workouts at Pirate City before all the activities move over to McKechnie Field
- If you’re reading this on Sunday afternoon, close the browser and go watch some hockey. Big game between USA and Canada is on in case you missed the memo.
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