Results tagged ‘ Tyler Yates ’

Game 8: Rockies (4-1) @ Pirates (4-3)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Well, it’s not snowing. That’s the nicest thing I can say about the weather at this point. It’s not raining as hard as it was at my house earlier in the day, but there it appears to still be misting on this overcast day. The forecast suggests there could be a window for baseball tonight, so let’s hope.

On a separate subject, don’t forget that the Pirates 5K is set for tomorrow (Saturday) morning. The Pirates announced that 2,500 runners/walkers have already signed up, but there will be limited additional registration from 6:30-7:30 am on Federal Street. All participants get a free t-shirt and ticket voucher, and your money goes to Pirates Charities. Not to mention, you get the honor of running alongside me, assuming I can successfully fight off this virus that has gotten the best of me for the past week.

What more could you ask for.

OK, on to baseball…

  • In case you missed it earlier, the news is not good for Tyler Yates. You have to wonder if he’s about ready to call it quits. It’s coming up on two years since he first had right elbow surgery and this latest setback is not the first. Yates told me this spring that his father had talked him out of retiring before, but this could be the last straw.
  • Right-hander Ramon Aguero is now with Texas, having been claimed off waivers by the Rangers today. Aguero, who was on Pittsburgh’s 40-man roster, had been designated for assignment in order to open up a roster spot for Jose Veras right before Opening Day.
  • Catcher Chris Snyder (lower back soreness) began his rehab assignment with high-A Bradenton on Thursday and went 2-for-3 with a double and one RBI. He caught in the game as well.
  • Lefty Joe Beimel is scheduled to pitch for Bradenton on Friday. This will be his first rehab appearance.
  • The Pirates face a left-handed starter today for the first time this season. That explains Matt Diaz’s inclusion in the lineup. Also worth noting is the batting order. Manager Clint Hurdle has Diaz hitting fifth and Pedro Alvarez behind him at No. 6. His reasoning for the flip-flop? He wants to go avoid a string of lefty hitters, and by putting Diaz between Lyle Overbay and Alvarez, Hurdle has a left-right-left mix.
  • During his pregame meeting with media, Hurdle also emphasized his policy with not using a reliever for more than three days in a row. Period. Exceptions to this rule are going to be rare (if at all) — Hurdle said the reasoning for that comes after lengthy research about how pitching more than three days in a row leads to more injuries and less effectiveness.

Lineups:

PIRATES: J. Tabata (LF), N. Walker (2B), A. McCutchen (CF), L. Overbay (1B), M. Diaz (RF), P. Alvarez (3B), J. Jaramillo (C), R. Cedeno (SS), R. Ohlendorf (RHP)

ROCKIES: D. Fowler (CF), J. Herrera (2B), C. Gonzalez (LF), T. Tulowitzki (SS), T. Helton (1B), S. Smith (RF), T. Wigginton (3B), C. Iannetta (C), J. De La Rosa (LHP)

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Day 40: Pirates @ Rays; Bucs cut five

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The Pirates cut five players from big league camp on Friday morning, in turn dwindling the number of players still around to 36. That still means that 11 players will have to leave in the next week. But the roster is beginning to take shape with some clarity.

The following moves were made on Friday:

  • RHP Tyler Yates reassigned to Minor League camp
  • RHP Sean Gallagher reassigned to Minor League camp
  • RHP Daniel McCutchen optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis
  • INF Josh Fields reassigned to Minor League camp
  • C Wyatt Toregas reassigned to Minor League camp

Also, general manager Neal Huntington confirmed that lefty Joe Beimel will not be ready to begin the season with the Major League club. Beimel will throw another bullpen session this weekend, but that does not give him time to get enough innings in before next week’s season opener. Beimel will remain in Florida for extended Spring Training and could even pitch a bit in Indianapolis, if he still needs to build his innings count by the time the Minor League season begins.

With Beimel out of the Opening Day mix, the following relievers are competing for two open spots: Garrett Olson, Brian Burres, Chris Leroux and Mike Crotta.

Other morning news and notes…

  • Huntington said that the team has not yet finalized whether it will take two or three catchers north. A decision on that should come soon, Huntington added. The makeup of the bench really hinges on which way the Pirates go with this.
  • Before leaving McKechnie Field on Friday, Fields say he was unsure whether he’d report to Triple-A Indianapolis or ask for his release.
  • With Fields out of the mix for the corner utility bench spot, that leaves Steve Pearce and Andy Marte as the last two standing. Huntington said that there really is no scenario in which both Pearce and Marte make the club.
  • Brad Lincoln (right arm contusion) threw from a distance of 120 feet on Friday and said he felt fine. He is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Saturday.
  • James McDonald remains scheduled to pitch in a Minor League game on Saturday.

On a side note, MLBlogs is changing its software (hopefully for the better) today, which means this blog is expected to be down during the afternoon hours. It might still be able to be accessed by you, but it won’t be able to be updated by me. Wanted to give you a head’s up so that you weren’t searching for anything new on here this afternoon. Once the update is done, I’ll get to learning the new program.

Lineups:

PIRATES: P. Ciriaco (CF), J. Rodriguez (SS), J. Bowker (LF), R. Doumit (C), S. Pearce (3B), M. Diaz (RF), A. Marte (1B), C. Wimberly (2B), C. Morton (RHP)

Pitchers: C. Morton, J. Hanrahan, J. Veras

RAYS: B. Zobrist (RF), E. Johnson (2B), E. Longoria (3B), M. Ramirez (DH), D. Johnson (1B), B.J. Upton (CF), K. Shoppach (C), R. Brignac (SS), S. Fuld (LF), J. Niemann (RHP)

Pitchers: J. Niemann

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Day 31: Blue Jays @ Pirates

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

There is an MLB Security meeting (another one of those annual Spring Training meetings) going on currently in the clubhouse. So since players are unavailable, I figured I’d get the blog rolling a little earlier than usual today.

In case you didn’t visit pirates.com on Tuesday because it was an off day, let me draw your attention to this playground build that was led by Pirates outfielder Matt Diaz. Diaz runs a foundation with his wife Leslee, and their latest project was to purchase and build a playground for the Boys and Girls Club of Winter Haven.

He invited teammates to make the 90-minute drive to Winter Haven to help build, though Diaz said he didn’t expect anyone to show up given that Tuesday was the team’s first off day of the spring. And yet four teammates — Charlie Morton, Jeff Karstens, Justin Thomas, Brian Burres – came to help, as did Triple-A manager Dean Treanor and hitting coach Gregg Ritchie. I showed up, too, to document the event, and I think I was most impacted by the willingness of these Pirates players/coaches to go out of their way to give something back to kids during their precious free time.

Even if you don’t want to read the story about the community work day, I recommend you check out the video.

As for your other morning news…

  • Manager Clint Hurdle will not be managing the Major League team on Wednesday. Instead, Woody Huyke, who has spent the last 42 years with the organization, will be taking over managerial duties for the day. Hurdle is observing Minor League camp today.
  • The team is supposed to issue injury updates on, at minimum, catchers Chris Snyder and Ryan Doumit today. I’m hoping the team also has something to say about James McDonald, though as I’ve mentioned previously, the Pirates’ new policy is to say very, very little about injuries.
  • Scott Olsen, who made his spring debut on Monday, will take the mound on Thursday for appearance No. 2. Depending on his efficiency, Olsen will pitch one or two innings.
  • Also pitching on Thursday will be: Ross Ohlendorf, Joe Beimel, Daniel McCutchen and Sean Gallagher.
  • In case you missed it on Tuesday, former Pirates pitcher Ian Snell announced he is retiring after the Cardinals informed him he was headed to Minor League camp. Details here. I will add that Snell earned over $8 million in a career that spanned five seasons and included a 38-53 record.
  • While the Pirates do have a home game against the Orioles on Thursday, the club will be sending a handful of pitchers over to Pirate City to pitch in an intrasquad game. Burres (four innings) and Karstens (three/four innings) will both use this as an opportunity to get stretched out. Tyler Yates and Evan Meek are slated to throw two innings, as well
  • Another reminder for those who want to get in on the NCAA Basketball blog challenge. Go to ESPN.com’s tournament page and search for Bucs Bits Bloggers. Join that group and fill out your bracket if you want to get in on the friendly competition.

Lineups:

PIRATES: J. Tabata (LF), N. Walker (2B), A. McCutchen (CF), P. Alvarez (3B), L. Overbay (1B), Garrett Jones (RF), R. Cedeno (SS), D. Brown (C), P. Maholm (LHP)

Pitchers: P. Maholm, J. Hanrahan, C. Resop, J. Veras, M. Crotta

BLUE JAYS: C. Patterson (CF), M. McCoy (SS), E. Encarnacion (3B), E. Thames (LF), J. Molina (C), D. Cooper (1B), J.P. Arencibia (DH), J. Tolisano (RF), J. Diaz (2B)

Pitchers: K. Drabek, C. Villanueva, C. Janssen. S. Henn, Ro. Lewis

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Day 27: Phillies @ Pirates (ss); Pirates @ Blue Jays (ss)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Let’s jump right into news…

  • Andrew McCutchen is back in the lineup on Saturday after being pulled from Friday’s game with soreness in his left wrist. McCutchen said he wasn’t sure how he hurt his wrist, but that he woke up Friday morning with it feeling sore. He had X-rays for precautionary reasons, but the issue was believed to be nerve related.
  • James McDonald is not doing any on-field work on Saturday, he said, after leaving Friday’s game with discomfort in his left side. McDonald said he isn’t entirely sure when he’d be cleared to do light work again. The Pirates sent out a statement saying he will be re-evaluated over the next few days. McDonald said he was unsure whether he’d have to miss a spring start or not. No other specifics on the injury have been given.
  • The Pirates made four cuts on Saturday morning, whittling down camp from 58 to 54. Bryan Morris was optioned to Triple-A; Kyle McPherson was optioned to High-A; Rudy Owens and Justin Wilson were reassigned to Minor League camp.
  • Tyler Yates, whose is from the Hawaiian island of Kauai, reported that his family was feeling no effect from the earthquake/tsunami.
  • Jose Ascanio and Fernando Nieve are both on the field as I type working through some delivery motion work.
  • Since I was off on Friday, I will pass along this note from the club regarding Ryan Doumit: Doumit was diagnosed with a right oblique strain and is unavailable in games until further notice. He will be reevaluated on Wednesday, and the team will provide its next update then.
  • Scott Olsen threw batting practice on Friday without any issue. The team has not announced what his next step will be, though I’d imagine he’ll be making a game appearance soon. Monday, perhaps?
  • Chris Snyder was a late scratch from the game in Dunedin because of soreness in his back. The team announced Snyder’s status as day-to-day.

Lineup for Phillies @ Pirates:

PIRATES: A. Presley (CF), G. Jones (RF), P. Alvarez (3B), L. Overbay (1B), N. Walker (2B), J. Bowker (LF), R. Cedeno (SS), J. Jaramillo (C), R. Ohlendorf (RHP)

Pitchers: R. Ohlendorf (four innings), J. Veras, A. Thompson, T. Yates

PHILLIES: P. Orr (2B), R. Gload (DH), R. Ibanez (LF), R. Howard (1B), B. Moss (RF), J. Mayberry (CF), W. Valdez (3B), E. Kratz (C), F. Galvis (SS)

Pitchers: V. Worley, D. Herndon, S. Mathieson, M. Zagurski

Lineup for Pirates @ Blue Jays:

PIRATES: J. Tabata (LF), J. Rodriguez (2B), A. McCutchen (CF), M. Diaz (RF), A. Marte (3B), J. Fields (1B), G. Atkins (DH), C. Snyder D. Brown (C), C. Wimberly (SS)

Pitchers: J. Locke (2 innings), S. Gallagher (2/3 innings), D. McCutchen (2 innings), R. Aguero, M. Crotta

BLUE JAYS: S. Podsednik (LF), R. Davis (CF), T. Snider (DH), J. Rivera (RF), E. Encarnacion (1B), B. Lawrie (3B), JP Arenibia (C), M. McCoy (SS), J. Diaz (2B)

Pitchers: R. Romero

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Rays 4, Pirates 2

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Tampa Bay now has two spring wins and both have come at the expense of Pittsburgh. Of course, the Pirates also have their own two wins over the Rays. The best-of-seven spring series continues in Port Charlotte on Friday.

***

One thing that could turn out to be different this year is how long the club waits to announce its final bench spots. That’s because so much hinges on what the team decides to do with Ryan Doumit. And I’m not just talking about whether or not the Pirates deal him elsewhere.

The Pirates still have not decided whether they want to carry two or three catchers into the season. If the club takes three, Jason Jaramillo or Dusty Brown will head north. If not, it doesn’t matter what either one of them do — they will be headed to Triple-A Indianapolis together. How Brown and Jaramillo are handling the unknown was the focus of my main story on pirates.com today, and you can get to that here.

***

Ross Ohlendorf left balls up in the second of his three innings on Monday and that was to blame for the one shaky inning he endured. After needing only five pitches (all fastballs) to retire the side in the first, Ohlendorf allowed three straight hits and a walk to begin the second.

He got some help getting out of the jam when Manny Ramirez’s foot hit one of the singles. Catcher Chris Snyder also threw out B.J. Upton as Upton tried to swipe third. As a result, Ohlendorf limited the damage to just one run.

Ohlendorf bounced back to pitch a clean third and said afterward that he felt like the start was another step in the right direction.

“I probably felt a little stronger in the first one just because I had a little more adrenaline,” Ohlendorf said. “But I still felt good about today.”

Ohlendorf mixed in a lot more changeups and a few sliders in the outing. Now it’s a matter of sharpening the command of all his pitches.

***

The Rays were off and running against the Pirates. But in their four attempts to steal bases, they were only successful twice. Snyder threw out two of three runners taking off against him.

The Pirates’ struggles throwing out runners last year has been incessantly noted. But it was a serious issue, and it is one that is being addressed this year. Ohlendorf, in particular, knows he needs to do a better job varying his rhythm and getting the ball to the plate quicker to keep runners more honest.

Could improvements already have been made?

“If I had been slower, he wouldn’t have had a chance,” Ohlendorf said, referring to Snyder’s ability to throw out Upton. “He made as good of a throw as he could have made and it was still pretty close. And Upton is a fast runner. I was quicker [today] than I would have been last year on most of my pitches, especially with a guy on second.”

The pitchers are working on slidesteps and ways to break up the timing of the runner — whether that be holding the ball longer, being quicker to the plate, etc. Be sure that the work is going to continue. But also give credit to Snyder for a pair of great throws.

“They’ve worked hard at it. It’s paying off,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “And both his throws were very, very accurate. He does a good job back there for us.”

***

A few tidbits:

  • Ronny Cedeno returned to the lineup on Monday and got his first hit of the spring. He had been 0-for-11. Cedeno told me he has been dealing with some timing issues, but maybe he was right when he followed that up by saying he felt he would be breaking through soon.
  • The Pirates have scored two runs in their last 21 innings. That’s not reason for huge concern right now given that pitchers are typically ahead of hitters early in spring. However, most of the starting position players are playing in Tuesday’s game against the Twins, so that would be a group that you would want to see some offense from.
  • None of the three bullpen candidates who pitched on Monday — Jose Veras, Tyler Yates, Daniel Moskos – fared exceptionally well. Veras and Yates each allowed two walks. Moskos walked one but also allowed three hits.

***

On the main site later, you will find notes about Evan Meek’s spring debut, Pedro Ciriaco’s favorable early impressive and minor injuries to Josh Rodriguez (right quad tightness) and John Bowker (left wrist soreness).

On a side note, I have the day off on Tuesday, so you’ll have to rely on my capable colleague Evan Drellich for your daily news. I will be spending most of the day not at the beach, but working on a lengthy feature story that is set to run on Wednesday. It’s a story that I hope will bring some perspective about how important winning and losing a baseball game really is. I hope you will read and enjoy.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Day 9: Daily Squeeze

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Atkins, Garrett.jpgI’ll admit that watching fielding drills day after day can get a bit monotonous after a while. But there can be times when something catches your eye — which was the case in the relay/cutoff throw drill that third base coach Nick Leyva ran yesterday. There was something different in the instructions than I remember there being last year.

The detail is small, but, after talking with Leyva about it today, he believes it could also be significant. In a situation where a runner is on second and a ball is hit up the middle, Leyva is instructing the first baseman (Lyle Overbay, in most cases) to come to the middle of the infield and be the cutoff man. Last year, that was the third baseman’s duty.

Leyva said that his reasoning for making the change is simple — and he added that 90-95 percent of clubs already position their players this way for cutoffs. By keeping the third baseman on the bag, that forces the baserunner to be more honest. He can’t sneak down the line as far as he might if it was just the shortstop running over to cover. Those few extra feet can make a big impact.

Just something for you to keep an eye on once games begin…

  • Third baseman Pedro Alvarez, who missed Monday’s workouts with a muscle spasm in his neck, was back to work early Tuesday morning. He went out to take some swings in the batting cage and then joined his teammates for defensive drills. He appeared to be just fine, though he did not go through a full day’s workout.
  • A total of 13 pitchers threw live batting practice to hitters. Kevin Correia, James McDonald, Paul Maholm and Ross Ohlendorf all took mounds simultaneously to kick things off. Don’t think that grouping was on accident, either. Hurdle had praise for the four members of the Pirates’ rotation afterward, too.
  • One person that was missing from the pack today was right-hander Jose Ascanio. GM Neal Huntington confirmed that Ascanio felt some tightness in his right elbow on Monday and is, as a precautionary measure, taking it easy for a few days. Ascanio had thrown his first bullpen session on Sunday. The good news is that the Pirates don’t believe the discomfort is anything more serious than a day-to-day issue, and Ascanio was already ahead enough in his workload (he pitched in winter ball through December) that this won’t set him back at all. 
  • The position players’ first drill of the day was working on hit and runs, delayed steals and reading balls in the dirt. The emphasis on the hit-and-run play was for a player to keep his lead consistent so as not to give away that he’s running. The coaching staff is pushing players to try to move first to third on a single this year, in what is being defined as “disciplined aggression.” For the most part, if the ball touches grass on the way through the infield, the expectation is that a player advances to third. The coaches also talked about the importance of knowing where the outfielders are in order to get the best read on the ball.
  • “Shin guards tell the story,” Hurdle said, as he walked over while the Pirates position players were deciding whether to advance on balls in the dirt. “This is a game changer right here and anyone can do it.” You better believe Hurdle is going to expect his players to.
  • Catchers spent some time practicing blocking balls in the dirt, as their priority was on the other side of the play.
  • Pitchers and position players worked together through signs to know who covers on a stolen base attempt. Then the groups split up for some individual work. The infielders took grounders, with Neil Walker working specifically on taking a double play feed from the shortstop. Outfielders tracked fly balls. Pitchers practiced covering first base on a grounder to the right side.
  • Garrett Atkins was taking his infield work at first base after working at third on Monday. Corey Wimberly, who is getting work in the outfield and infield, spent time at both second and short. Moving these utility players around will continue to be a key component of workouts: “They don’t seem like a high priority position, but when you can stabilize your roster with a guy that is versatile, they are very valuable,” Hurdle said. “We have a handful of guys that we’re looking at in that situation.”
  • Hurdle announced after practice that he will be using seven pitchers for one inning apiece in Friday’s exhibition game against the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota. Aaron Thompson will make the start and be followed by Tyler Yates, Jeff Locke, Michael Crotta, Justin Wilson, Kyle McPherson and Rudy Owens.
  • Hurdle said he will announce the beginning of his Grapefruit League pitching assignments on Wednesday.
  • Yates is not throwing live batting practice with the rest of the group, though he has not had any sort of setback. Pitching coach Ray Searage thought Yates would instead be better served having a supervised side session on Wednesday where the focus could be on the right-hander’s mechanics. Yates was actually so far ahead in his throwing program that he had thrown batting practice before the start of Spring Training.
  • On the field as guests today were members of the Manatee adult baseball league. They fielded balls in the outfield during batting practice. Tomorrow, the Manatee High School baseball team will be at Pirate City to do that.

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Day 6: Daily Squeeze

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com


Mazeroski with Walker.jpgClint Hurdle
addressed the troops this morning, just before the Pirates took the field for the team’s first official full-squad workout of the spring. Hurdle’s message to the players was much the same as it has been since his introductory press conference. Trust and focus are key components. Hard work, focus on the future and intensity in these Spring Training workouts were, too.

“There will be a group of men that turns this thing around here,” Hurdle said. “It will happen. So why can’t we? Why can’t we be the start? We need to set our bar at the championship level, starting with the execution and a mindset. We’ve got to think that way. We’ve got to act that way.”

So far, the message has been extremely well received.

“He’s happy to be here,” Ronny Cedeno said of Hurdle. “This is a good guy. I think we’ve got a better team than last year. We’ve got to play right. We’ve got to play better than last year. We have more talent here. We’ve got to put everything together and we’ll be OK.”

The rest of your newsworthy items…

  • A group of 14 pitchers threw their first session of live batting practice today. Those pitchers included: Paul Maholm, Joel Hanrahan, Kevin Correia, Evan Meek, James McDonald, Joe Beimel, Ross Ohlendorf, Jose Veras, Aaron Thompson, Rudy Owens, Kyle McPherson, Justin Wilson, Jeff Locke and Michael Crotta. After warming up, each pitcher threw 15 pitches, stepped aside for a bit and then returned to throw 15 more. Hitters took turns rotating in to hit.
  • The healthy pitchers who did not throw on Saturday will throw their live BP sessions on Sunday.
  • Right-hander Kevin Hart threw off flat ground and it wasn’t just long toss. Hart threw with plenty of intensity.
  • Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski has arrived and began his work with infielders right away. He spent significant time next to second baseman Neil Walker (how fitting) on Saturday and will continue to work closely with Walker all spring.
  • If you’re looking for a one of many feel-good stories this spring, here is one for you to consider. Tyler Yates talks in length about his journey back from Tommy John surgery and about a phone call to his dad, who encouraged him to give baseball one more chance as he was prepared to quit.
  • The Columbus (Ga.) High School baseball team was out shagging fly balls on Saturday and will do so again on Sunday. Pirates national crosschecker Jimmy Lester has a son on the team. Two local teams will be joining the Pirates to help in the outfield next week.
  • I get a lot of questions at this time a year about how so-and-so looks fielding or hitting or throwing at this point in camp. Let me emphasize, as I do every year, that it is way too early to be making judgements on that. Spring Training results need not be taken all that seriously because they often aren’t a good predictor of what will actually happen from Opening Day on. Keep that in mind for the next six weeks.
  • Hurdle hinted at such a warning, too, when talking about what he has seen out of his hitters during the situational hitting drills: “I see focus and intent. Obviously, they want results right away but it’s a new process for them. It’s not so much about the results daily as the preparation that is put in and the focus doing it. Some of the guys haven’t shown up very well in some of the drills. They take it personally. They’re understanding, though, the reason behind it.”
  • The Pirates have five more workout days before they face the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota baseball team in a seven-inning exhibition game next Friday. Hurdle said he will use mostly young players in that game.
  • The city of Bradenton is holding a pep rally Saturday from 5-7:30 pm on Old Main Street. Highlights include player autograph sessions and speeches from Frank Coonelly, Hurdle and Steve Blass. The event is free to the public.
  • The Pirates will hold photo day on Sunday.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Day 1: Daily Squeeze

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Hurdle, Clint.jpgThe Daily Squeeze (aka: round-up following each workout day) is back for another year, and there are plenty of items of interest to report on this Valentine’s Day. I must say that the weather made for the perfect baseball setting, as we’re getting spoiled on that front already. No complaints in that department.

Spent part of the morning catching up with Ryan Doumit, who was one of the first people I wanted to target given what transpired this offseason. You can read what Doumit had to say here. I will add that while he was plenty careful in the words he chose and the delivery he used, Doumit is not content being a backup catcher. And know that the Pirates continue to pursue trade opportunities. This story isn’t about to die anytime soon.

As for the rest of your daily squeeze:

  • As of last count, the Pirates have 54 of 62 players checked in to Pirate City already. Position players aren’t required to be here until the end of the day on Friday. However, only seven are still missing. Certainly, those who are fighting for jobs have plenty of incentive to show up early. But other early arrivals include guys with firm grasp on starting roles, including Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker, Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata.
  • Speaking of Alvarez, GM Neal Huntington noted that the third baseman is stronger than he has ever been. Huntington adamently refuted a recent report that Alvarez had gained 15 pounds over the winter, though Huntington didn’t deny that Alvarez had gained some weight. I’ll look more in depth at this weight issue later in the week. But know that for now, Alvarez is sticking at third base.
  • The winner of the closer’s job should be known soon. Huntington indicated a decision is forthcoming (maybe already made) and that we will know after the players are informed. The Pirates are not, Hurdle said, going to use a co-closer model. My guess is that the job goes to Joel Hanrahan. But that’s only a guess.
  • Jose Ascanio was the only no show among the pitchers/catchers bunch that took the field on Monday. Ascanio is tied up in Venezuela with visa issues. Huntington said that Ascanio expected to get his visa today and, assuming he does, that means the righty will arrive in Bradenton on Tuesday.
  • A total of fifteen pitchers took the mound for side sessions during the afternoon. That group included Paul Maholm, Kevin Correia, Hanrahan, Jose VerasJoe Beimel, Aaron Thompson, Justin Wilson, Ross Ohlendorf, James McDonald, Evan Meek, Scott Olsen, Kyle McPherson, Rudy Owens, Michael Crotta and Jeff Locke. “Good one huh?” Doumit said to Maholm, after Maholm’s session.
  • In addition to side sessions, there was plenty of PFPs (pitchers fielding practice) going on this afternoon. There was also bunting practice and conditioning. This is the norm for these first two weeks.
  • Hitters who had arrived early took batting practice and also did fielding drills of their own.
  • Right-hander Tyler Yates is recovered from Tommy John surgery and is going through the same spring program as all the other pitchers. While there is still some unknown about how he will throw after such a long layoff, Yates is in competition for an Opening Day bullpen spot.
  • The only two pitchers who are really limited early are Kevin Hart and Donnie Veal. Both had arm surgeries last year and neither is ready to throw. There is still a chance that Hart could be ready by Opening Day. But each day that goes by lessens the chances of that. Veal, who will do little on-field work this spring, is targeting a May or June return. Neither has had any setbacks to this point.
  • I’ve already spotted Manny Sanguillen and Bill Virdon here as extra coaches. I was told that Bill Mazeroski will be making his first appearance later this week. It’s always a blast having the old timers around.
  • MiLB.com caught up with 2010 first-round pick Jameson Taillon recently. If you want to look at the interview, you can find it here.
  • Though the players didn’t take the field until about 12:20 p.m. on Monday, workouts will begin earlier in the coming days. Pitchers and catchers had their physicals this morning and there was a short team meeting at noon during which Huntington and Hurdle addressed the group.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Day 1 from Bradenton

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Players are shuffling through the process of getting physicals this morning, which gives me some time to open up the day with a short update. I’ll provide a daily wrap after workouts each day, but for now, here are a few early news and notes:

  • Of the 41 pitchers and catchers invited to Spring Training, 40 are here. Jose Ascanio got stuck in Venezuela with visa issues and is expected to arrive later in the week.
  • Manager Clint Hurdle will have a meeting with all the pitchers/catchers at noon today, after which the group will head outside for the first official workout at Pirate City. The following days will start earlier, for those of you who are coming out to observe.
  • In addition to undergoing physicals, players are also taking turns with the video board crew during these first two weeks of camp. You know those JumboTron videos you see at PNC Park all season? Yep, those are all filmed here each February.
  • Tyler Yates is progressing well from Tommy John surgery, he said on Monday. Yates added that he is going through the same throwing program as any other pitcher who is getting ready for the season. How he bounces back after missing so much time is worth keeping an eye on this spring.
  • Catcher Ryan Doumit talked at length this morning about his future with this club and how he dealt with offseason rumors that he would be traded. Look for a full story on this to be posted on pirates.com later in the day.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Roster moves and invitations

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The Pirates have designated right-hander Joe Martinez for assignment. This opens up the spot on the 40-man roster necessary to add Kevin Correia.

Pittsburgh also announced four more non-roster invites to Spring Training: Tyler Yates (who has signed Minor League deal), Jeff Clement, Rudy Owens and Justin Wilson.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

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