Day 5: Daily Squeeze
Officially, the first full-squad workout isn’t scheduled until Saturday. As it turned out, though, all 62 players were here this morning and all that were healthy took the fields for workouts on Friday. The one noticeable absentee on the field was lefty Scott Olsen, who has a mild left hamstring strain. He’ll be re-evaluated daily, the Pirates said, and we expect to have an update on his status in a week.
By all indications, Olsen won’t be able to do anything until then. He had already told me that he was building his arm up a little slower-than-usual this spring given his past shoulder issues. With this setback, you now have to wonder if Olsen is going to be able to log enough innings to be ready as a starter by Opening Day.
Though Brad Lincoln, Daniel McCutchen, Jeff Karstens and Brian Burres would contend otherwise, the Pirates have been hinting for a while now that the fifth spot in the rotation would likely come down to Olsen and Charlie Morton. Now, Morton might have the leg up. This would be the time, too, where one of those other guys sneaks up and becomes a serious part of the discussion.
We should have a better grasp on Olsen’s timetable by the end of next week.
As for the rest of your daily notes:
- Many of the pitchers were called in for early work this morning, and they broke up into groups to focus on a number of specific things — delivery, side steps, pick off moves and bunt plays. This all happened before the 10 am workout.
- Ronny Cedeno and Brian Friday arrived at Pirate City and participated in workouts for the first time. They were the only two position players that hadn’t yet reported.
- Cedeno talked at length with reporters about his desire to prove he is an everyday shortstop at the Major League level. Clint Hurdle and Nick Leyva (infield instructor) also spoke about what they hope to see from Cedeno this spring. You can find all this in today’s feature on the main site.
- Speaking of Cedeno, he’ll be wearing No. 5 this year. He gave Hurdle No. 13 and goes back to a number that he wore with the Cubs.
- Leyva has done his homework on Cedeno and the rest of the infield group he has inherited. He has spoken extensively with Carlos Garcia, who was the Pirates’ infield instructor last year. He has also spoken to Perry Hill, who was with the Pirates in 2009. Leyva said he will be incorporating many of the same defensive drills that Hill introduced here during his one-year stay.
- Jose Ascanio (28 pitches) appeared in camp, as those visa issues have now been fixed. He began his work to catch up to the rest of the pitchers by throwing his first side session.
- Lefty Donnie Veal (34 pitches) also took the mound to throw on Friday. Remember, he’s on a more limited throwing program this spring as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.
- The rest of the pitchers had the day off from throwing and worked mostly on defensive drills. The first group of pitchers will throw live batting practice to the hitters on Saturday, with the second group then scheduled to go on Sunday.
- Steve Pearce spent the day working with the outfielders. Before today, I had only seen Pearce doing defensive drills at first base. He is going to get extensive work at both spots all spring.
- Three spectators stood out on the Pirate City grounds. Jameson Taillon, Stetson Allie and Luis Heredia — your big three pitching prospects — wandered around watching the morning workouts. You can see the three in the photo above, which was taken by team photographer Dave Arrigo. All three pitchers are participating in the Pirates’ early Minor League camp.
- Position players ended workouts by working on situational bunting and hitting. A coach would give them a play (squeeze, slap bunt, drag bunt, hit-and-run, etc.) and each hitter had to execute. Not that it’s fair to make firm evaluations this early in spring, but Pedro Alvarez was definitely off with his timing during the drill. A lot of swings and misses. I didn’t see everyone hit, but of those who did, Neil Walker and Ryan Doumit looked pretty sharp.
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