Pirates Notebook: Gerut held out of first workout

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BRADENTON, Fla. -- It appears outfielder Jody Gerut will get off to a slow start in his bid to make the Pirates' roster out of spring training.

Gerut, still recovering from surgery on his right knee eight months ago, was the only one of the three position players who finished last season on the disabled list -- outfielder Nate McLouth and first baseman Brad Eldred were the others -- who did not participate in the team's first workout yesterday at Pirate City. He took the field once with a trainer but left soon thereafter.

Given that only one bench spot seems available, that does not bode well for Gerut's chances. He is due to make $850,000 this season, unless the Pirates cut him by mid-March, which would allow them to pay one-sixth of that.

McLouth missed the final two months of last season to a severely sprained left ankle, but he showed no difficulty in any drills.

"It's been great since the end of last season," he said.

Eldred missed all but the opening three weeks of Class AAA Indianapolis' season to a broken left thumb, but he erased any doubts about its status yesterday with a batting-practice shot to the top of a 30-foot batter's eye beyond center field.

"Ready to go," he said.

Three no-shows

As the Pirates expected, pitchers Tony Armas Jr., Romulo Sanchez and Serguey Linares did not report because of difficulty securing U.S. work visas. Armas and Sanchez are in Venezuela, Linares is in the Dominican Republic.

General manager Dave Littlefield offered no timetable for their arrival.

Long-sleeve opener

Most of the 42 participants in the two-hour workout wore long sleeves or jackets -- Eldred was a glaring exception on each count -- because of 50-degree temperatures and strong winds that made it seem much colder.

That hardly deterred the Japanese media horde, which swelled to 55 for starter Masumi Kuwata's first appearance in full uniform.

The highlight of their day: When Kuwata finally succeeded on a bunt drill after several attempts, he bowed and doffed his batting helmet toward third base coach Jeff Cox, the drill's instructor. When Cox tipped his cap back and barked out, "Domo Arigato!" -- Japanese for thank you -- the laughter could be heard across the complex.

Buried treasure

Fifteen pitchers took the mound for bullpen sessions of roughly 40 pitches, including starters Ian Snell, Zach Duke, Paul Maholm, Tom Gorzelanny, John Van Benschoten and Yoslan Herrera, and relievers John Grabow, Dan Kolb and Jonah Bayliss.

Herrera was throwing a combination curve-slider that had observers buzzing.

Recently signed minor-league starter Michael Tejera was held out of the workout because of shoulder discomfort. Neither the nature nor the severity of his injury was revealed. He pitched last week in the Caribbean World Series.

The workout today begins at 9:45 a.m.

Pirates alumni Kent Tekulve and Bill Virdon already are in the fold. Bill Mazeroski will join them later in spring training.

Peter Diana, Post-Gazette
Nate McLouth leads stretching exercise at Pirate City before the team's first scheduled workout yesterday in Bradenton, Florida.
Click photo for larger image.


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