Results tagged ‘ Pirate City ’

Day 11 Daily Squeeze

Huntington.jpgAs a spectator, today might have been the most interesting day of these 11 days that the team worked out at Pirate City. On one field you had pitching coach Joe Kerrigan jokingly making bets with pitchers and “playing to 21 points” in a fielding drill game. (After losing to Kerrigan in round one, the pitchers came back and took the final two rounds for the win).

Simultaneously, on another field, Perry Hill, teacher extraordinaire, was leading position players through cut off drills and relay throws. His now infamous “Stop It!” phrase (which he uses when giving a player a compliment) was loud and frequent.

The day then ended with a few rounds of batting practice before players skirted off the field and out of the complex. Everyone will be reporting to McKechnie Field beginning tomorrow as Grapefruit League games get underway.

Other news and notes from the day:

  • Infielder Luis Cruz is likely to be out for about a week after suffering a strained left hip flexor on Tuesday. Cruz is in competition to earn a spot on the Opening Day roster as a backup infielder 
  • It was encouraging to see second baseman Freddy Sanchez making relay throws from the outfield grass on Tuesday. You’ll remember that last year he couldn’t do that all spring because of his arm issues. Under guidance from Perry, Sanchez has changed his positioning a bit and tweaked his mechanics on his throws in order to put less stress on his right shoulder. As a result, Sanchez is throwing comfortably from 120-150 feet now.
  • Third baseman Andy LaRoche participated in full workouts for the second straight day, and this time he even took cuts during live BP. Pitchers Virgil Vasquez (sore arm) and Brian Slocum (strained hamstring) both were held back from throwing again.
  • Seven pitchers — Paul Maholm, Zach Duke, Daniel McCutchen, Dave Davidson, Jeff Karstens, John Grabow, Jason Davis and Denny Bautista — threw their second round of live BP on Tuesday. All, except Bautista, threw 35 pitches. Bautista was limited to 20.
  • The MLB Network will be revealing the final World Baseball Classic Rosters later tonight at 6 p.m. ET. You can expect to see Ian Snell and Ramon Vazquez on Team Puerto Rico and Dave Davidson on the Canadian team. There are also a number of Pirates Minor League players who may be on those final rosters.

Quotable: “It’s time [for games]. We’ve accomplished a lot here. We got a lot done. It doesn’t stop, but I think we’ve done what we need to do to start the game process and the evaluations that go along with that. It’s time to take that next step.” — manager John Russell

On Deck: The Pirates will face the defending World Series Champion Phillies on Wednesday as teams open up their Grapefruit League schedule. It’s a home game at McKechnie Field, with the first pitch set for 1:05 p.m. ET.

Non-roster invitee Chris Bootcheck will pitch the first inning of the game and will be followed by Matt Capps, Donald Veal, Romulo Sanchez, Ronald Uviedo, Juan Mateo, Craig Hansen, Evan Meek and Jesse Chavez. Lefty Jamie Moyer will make the start for the Phillies.

Also of note for those attending Wednesday’s game: the first 2,500 fans through the gates will receive a 2009 Spring Training magnetic schedule.

For those in Pittsburgh, the game will be broadcast on WPGB 104.7. Those tuning in will get their first chance to listen to new broadcaster Tim Neverett, who was hired in December to fill the vacancy in the broadcast booth created with the departure of Lanny Frattare.     

Day 10 Daily Squeeze

BP.jpgAnother day down, one more to go here at Pirate City. Tomorrow will be the last day of workouts before we all move to McKechnie Field for good. This is about the time in the workout schedule that we are all itching to get going with the exhibition schedule. It provides a little more variety than watching infield drills and batting practice. And it’s always intriguing to see how some of the new guys perform in actual games.

As for Monday’s news and notes…

  • Lefty Phil Dumatrait threw off the mound for the third time. He threw about 35 pitches — mostly fastballs and changeups, though he threw in about three or four curveballs, too. Dumatrait will throw long toss tomorrow before throwing another bullpen (40-45 pitches) on Wednesday and another then on Saturday. Dumatrait projected that he will be ready to pitch in a game about the third week in March.
  • Third baseman Andy LaRoche was back on the field with the team on Monday. He did his normal early work, participated in infield drills and tracked pitches in the batting cage during live batting practice. Manager John Russell said LaRoche could maybe be ready to play on Thursday. If not, he should see action Friday or Saturday for sure.
  • Non-roster invitee Brian Slocum was held out of workouts on Monday because of a slight hamstring strain. Slocum’s status is day-to-day, though Russell said it shouldn’t be long before the right-hander can return to the mound.
  • Though he lobbied to take the mound today, Virgil Vasquez (sore arm) was also held out from throwing again on Monday. He should resume either Tuesday or Wednesday.
  • In all, 16 pitchers threw one to two innings of live batting practice on Monday. It was the second time doing so for each of the 16, and pitching coach Joe Kerrigan used Monday to watch the pitchers that he wasn’t able to watch throw on Friday.
  • Indian pitchers Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel got to participate (well, kinda) in big-league camp on Monday. The pair were among a group of about six who shagged balls in the outfield during batting practice.

  Until tomorrow… 

Day 6 Daily Squeeze


Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for DSC00249 (Small).jpg(Neil Walker working with Gregg Ritchie, the Pirates’ roving hitting instructor)

And now your sights and sounds from a blustery Pirate City:

  • Third baseman Andy LaRoche did not participate in workouts today (fielding or hitting) after having some slight back spasms on Wednesday. LaRoche said the lower back pain wasn’t anything to be worried about, and the Pirates simply decided to sit him for precautionary reasons. He is expected to be back participating in full tomorrow.
  • Pedro Lopez arrived in Bradenton late on Wednesday and worked out with the team on Thursday. With Lopez in camp, the Pirates have 57 players now at Spring Training.
  • Utilityman Luis Cruz told me today that he has declined an invitation to play for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic in March. Cruz didn’t seem too disappointed and said that he would have his best chance to make the club out of Spring Training if he stayed with the team all through camp.
  • Speaking of the World Baseball Classic, both Ian Snell and Ramon Vazquez have committed to playing for Team Puerto Rico. Vazquez will be the team’s starting third baseman, and as a result, he has been taking extra infield practice at third this week. Snell started his throwing program earlier than usual this spring and will have one start with the Pirates before joining the Puerto Rican team. Manager John Russell said that should ensure that Snell is ready to go for WBC games.
  • Had another interesting conversation with Manny Sanguillen today, who pulled me aside to share some insight. He watched Pedro Alvarez take batting practice earlier in the week and had to do a double-take: “I saw that swing, and I thought it was Willie,” Sanguillen said, referring, of course, to Willie Stargell. “It’s the same power, the same [bat] path. I’ve never seen that since Willie.” And the Sanguillen offered his prediction on Alvarez: “That kid — he’s going to be really special.”
  • Sanguillen also wanted to let me know that his 50-foot putt for eagle at Wednesday’s Charity Golf Tournament was the highlight of the day (in his opinion, of course).
  • Sanguillen wasn’t the only one wanting to catch a sneak peak at Alvarez. During morning fielding drills, the largest crowd, by far, packed around the field where Alvarez was. Considering all the team’s starting infielders were on a different field, fans had to be there to watch Alvarez.
  • The infielders had the added bonus of trying to catch pop-ups with a gusting wind outside this morning, which made the drill a bit entertaining at times for onlookers. But props to Freddy Sanchez, who made the acrobatic catch of the day by sprinting into right field, doing a 360, falling and making the catch.
  • In the meantime, pitchers worked on rundowns on other fields and catchers focused on throwing out baserunners.
  • Nine pitchers threw bullpen sessions today, and most had the dummies set up next to the plate to emulate a real pitcher-hitter situation. Tomorrow, pitchers will throw live BP for the first time. Eighteen pitchers are expected to do so on Friday.
  • I saw fan favorite Chuck Tanner from a distance today; it was the first time I had spotted him here since I arrived. He’s one of a handful of Pirates alumni who work with the team during the spring. Also here are Bill Virdon, Bill Mazeroski, Kent Tekulve and Sanguillen.
  • Friday’s workout will last longer than usual, with it concluding at about 2 p.m.
  • And if you didn’t already see it below, earlier I posted an entry relaying President Frank Coonelly’s message to the team earlier today. Coonelly addressed the team in a meeting before workouts. Scroll down a bit to see what was said.

Quote of the Day: “Watch. These guys are looking much better. They are going to surprise some people this year.” — Sanguillen, on team as a whole.

Until tomorrow…

Day 4 Daily Squeeze

OK, so I’ve got my new title (for now). Thanks for the numerous suggestions, though I liked this one since it had a bit of a Floridian flavor.

  • Today was the first full squad workout of Spring Training and everyone with the exception of infielder Pedro Lopez was present and working out. Lopez has been delayed by what GM Neal Huntington said was a minor visa problem. Lopez is expected in camp either Wednesday or Thursday.
  • Obviously, the big news of the day belonged to Nate McLouth, who signed a multi-year deal that will pay him no less than $15.75 million in all. Check out the blog entry below for all the specifics on the deal.
    McLouth is flying back from Phoenix as we speak and won’t be arriving in Bradenton until this evening. As a result, the Pirates are holding off on having a press conference until sometime on Wednesday, so look for comments from your All-Star centerfielder on the site tomorrow.
  • Good news for Phil Dumatrait — the left-hander is slated to throw off the mound on Wednesday for the first time since making a start on July 7. After that start, Dumatrait was shut down for the season. He will throw 25 fastballs on Wednesday. Said Dumatrait: “It’s about time. I just want my arm to feel good.” He also added that his progression from throwing long toss at 150 feet to this mound session went quicker than he had anticipated.
  • Also, for those who read Monday’s scoop that the Pirates are interested in
    lefty Will Ohman, Huntington had this to say about the organization’s current level of activity in the free agent market: “We continue to have conversations with agents to see if we have the right fit. We like our left-handed options.” Those options include John Grabow and Sean Burnett, though Huntington also threw Donnie Veal’s name into the mix. Veal was the team’s Rule 5 Draft pick this winter. 

As for other minor matters in your daily squeeze….

  • Nine pitchers — John Grabow, Jeff Karstens, Paul Maholm, Zach Duke, Tom Gorzelanny, Daniel McCutchen, Denny Bautista, Jason Davis and Dave Davidson — threw bullpen sessions. Bautista and Davis stayed on the mound a bit longer to get some specific instruction from pitching coach Joe Kerrigan about their deliveries.
  • In a nice change of pace from a year ago, Freddy Sanchez was able to fully take part in all infield drills on Tuesday. You’ll remember that last yeart the second baseman was held back from making throws. He said his arm strength feels great up to 90-100 feet; the focus now is continuing to stretch it out.
  • Infielders were split up into two groups during morning defensive drills, with the Major Leaguers getting their first chance to work with new infield coach Perry Hill. The division of infielders was indicative of the depth chart. On the field with Perry were Andy LaRoche and Neil Walker at third; Jack Wilson and Brian Bixler at short, Freddy Sanchez and Ramon Vazquez at second; and Adam LaRoche and Steve Pearce at first. Like he did last year, Pearce will get defensive work at first and in the outfield
  • Jack Wilson by far drew the most onlookers during workouts and stayed around to sign autographs to a large congregation of fans afterward.
  • The Pirates will be holding their 2nd annual Spring Training Golf Tournament on Wednesday, with players, coaches and front office staff all participating. Players participating will be scooting out of Pirate City early on Wednesday since check-in is at 12:30 pm.
  • Neil Walker did in fact become an uncle on Monday. His sister, Carrie, gave birth to a healthy boy.
  • And.. if you’re around the television tonight, tune into ABC News (I believe it’s on at 6:30 p.m., but you’ll have to double check on that) for an interview with Dinesh and Rinku, the two Indian players that the Pirates signed this offseason. I’m writing an in-depth story on the two for Friday, but thought I’d let you know about the ABC News segment as well.

Quote of the Day: “Going through the last few days, I try to talk, but I can’t get a word in because everybody is teaching. That is a great thing. Those are great teachers.” — Manager John Russell lauding the new additions to the Major League and Minor League coaching staffs

Until tomorrow…  

Day 3 Short Hops

In honor of today being President’s Day, here are a few president-baseball quote to get you in the holiday spirit before we get down to Day 3 at Pirate City.

“I wanted to be a real Major League player, a professional like Honus Wagner.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower

“I wouldn’t even complain if a stray ball came through the Oval Office window now and then.” — Ronald Reagan

“May the sun never set on American baseball. ” — Harry S. Truman

And with that, let’s get right into today’s short hops:

  • 18 pitchers threw bullpen sessions on Monday, marking the second side session each has thrown since Spring Training officially opened. Those pitchers were: Ross Ohlendorf, Ian Snell, Jimmy Barthmaier, Brian Slocum, Matt Capps, Sean Burnett, Tyler Yates, Virgil Vasquez, Donnie Veal, Jesse Chavez, Chris Bootcheck, Craig Hansen, Juan Mateo, Evan Meek, Jeff Sues, Ronald Uviedo, Daniel Haigwood and Romulo Sanchez.
  • Position players were required to report to Bradenton by midnight on Monday, and most of the absentees showed up by the end of the pitcher/catcher workouts. Among those checked in by lunch time: Freddy Sanchez, Andy Phillips, Anderson Machado, Luis Cruz and Shelby Ford. UPDATE: Jack Wilson and Jose Tabata checked in soon after. The only position player still yet to arrive at Pirate City as of 3 p.m. is Pedro Lopez.
  • Batting practice took much longer because of the larger number of participants — included in those participants was Pedro Alvarez, who had Nyjer Morgan and Craig Monroe marveling at some of the blasts he sent into the parking lot.
  • Hitters also spent time doing infield drills, led by new infield coach Perry Hill
  • Simultaneously, the catchers found a way to make pitching coach Joe Kerrigan’s hitter dummies useful by setting them up next to the plate while practicing throwing runners out.
  • Camp had one extra non-roster invitee taking part in workouts on Monday, that being seven-year-old Drake LaRoche, Adam LaRoche’s son. Wearing his No. 25 LaRoche shirt, Drake accompanied the hitters as they ran after BP and during stretches. He also made himself at home in the clubhouse.
  • Third baseman Neil Walker arrived at Pirate City prepared to be an uncle by the end of the day. Neil’s sister, Carrie, who is married to former Pirate Don Kelly, was scheduled to give birth on Monday.
  • While members of the Korean World Baseball Classic team have already been staying and practicing at Pirate City for a while now, they will be joined by members of the Netherlands national team on Tuesday. Many of the Dutch players are scheduled to arrive tomorrow.

That’s all the news and notes for now. I’m also still waiting for more submissions on any creative titles to replace the “short hops” headline. Bradenton bits and Jen’s Views (thanks, Pat) have already been suggested. Anyone else care to jump in?

Until tomorrow…

Day 2 Short Hops

No less than 10 people in the clubhouse came up to me within my first hour at Pirate City on Sunday noting that I had gotten sunburnt on Saturday. One after another I informed them that I had applied the sunscreen Sunday morning, so they had nothing to worry about. Nice to know I’m being looked after apparently.

Sunday’s workout began with a 9:30 am meeting, with the players on the field around 10 am. Though thunderstorms were forcasted for later Sunday afternoon, the skies were clear for the few hours players were on the fields.

And here are your short hops for the day:

  • Eric Hinske and Andrew McCutchen made their first appearances at Pirate City on Sunday. The clubhouse is just about full, and the rest of the position players are required to report by midnight on Monday. The most notable names not here yet: Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez.
  • Nine more pitchers threw bullpen sessions on Sunday, those being: John Grabow, Jeff Karstens, Paul Maholm, Zach Duke, Tom Gorzelanny, Daniel McCutchen, Denny Bautista, Dave Davidson and Jason Davis. Karsten’s side session was limited to 25 pitches, just because he’s two bullpen sessions behind the rest of the group. Nothing to worry about, though. His elbow is pain-free and just fine.
  • The fielding drills were much like they were on Day 1 — There were exercises in covering first base, fielding and throwing to second and work on pick-off moves. Some of the pitchers also spent time bunting.
  • As for the catchers, much of the morning was spent catching pop-ups and refining the art of blocking pitches. All was just fine until a handful of Pirate City groundskeepers noticed that the drill was being conducted on the grass and, as a result, creating noticeable divots in it. They stood by and watched, cringing every time another cleat dug in. Members of the groundscrew staff are out there right now doing what they can to limit the damage done.
  • Batting practice was an entertaining sight to watch on Sunday with Hinske, Ramon Vazquez, Nyjer Morgan, Brandon Moss, Jeff Salazar and Garrett Jones all taking part. Quick quiz: What do all these guys have in common besides wearing the black and gold? They’re all lefties, of course. And watching some of the balls that were launched got me thinking about how entertaining this could be with that short porch in right field at PNC Park.
  • Speaking of balls being launched, both Jones and Hinske easily cleared the outfield fence, much to the delight of the fans standing in the parking lot just behind the fence.
  • After finishing his workout, Moss scooted out of Pirate City to take part in one of Florida’s favorite pasttimes: Hog Hunting. I’m not joking.
  • While roaming from field to field during the various drills, manager John Russell noted that he sees a “little more energy” from this group than he did from last year’s Spring Training squad. He later added that the quality of arms has also improved since last year.

Until tomorrow…   

On the eve of camp…

By the number of players already working out at Pirate City on Thursday, it would seem that almost all the pitchers and catchers have already trickled in. And with the weather being what it is down here, it’s hard to blame them for getting going early.

Friday is the official report date for pitchers and catchers… well, for those not here already. The first workout will be at noon on Saturday. 

For those looking for the comprehensive list of players participating in Major League camp, I’ve listed all the non-roster invitees below. Of course, everyone on the team’s 40-man roster is participating as well.

Non-roster invitees:

Pitchers: RHP Denny Bautista, RHP Chris Bootcheck, RHP Jason Davis, LHP Daniel Haigwood, RHP Juan Mateo, RHP Daniel McCutchen, RHP Brian Slocum

Catchers: Eric Kratz, Miguel Perez

Infielders: Shelby Ford, Garrett Jones, Pedro Lopez, Anderson Machado, Andy Phillips

Outfielders: Andrew McCutchen, Craig Monroe, Jeff Salazar

In other pre-Spring Training news…

A new field at Pirate City now sits where I parked by car last year, but the addition of the field will give coaches more flexibility to spread out workouts/drills if needed. With the field, the Pirates now have four full fields and one half field at Pirate City. 

Also, note that a handful of Pirates Grapefruit League games will be webcast on this spring. Games on March 4 (vs. Minnesota), March 12 (vs. Minnesota), March 18 (vs Minnesota), March 23 (vs. Tampa Bay), March 30 (vs. Cincinnati) and April 1 (vs. Boston) will all be webcasted, so those of you without the luxury of spending time down here can still get your fix of Spring Training baseball.

In addition, the Pirates’ March 16 game against Tampa Bay will be telecast on FSN-Pittsburgh. That game has a 7:05 p.m. start time.