Pirates Notebook: Chacon has arthritis in knee

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BRADENTON, Fla. -- Shawn Chacon freely allows that he will have to pitch through some pain in 2007.

Chacon, one of four starters vying for the lone vacancy in the rotation, revealed yesterday that he has arthritis in his long-nagging right knee and that he expects it to be a lingering issue. But he also expressed confidence that it will not keep him from making 30-32 starts if called upon.

"Oh, yeah, absolutely. There's no doubt in my mind," Chacon said. "I'm going to have bad days and good days. I know that. It's going to ache sometimes. But I think I can minimize that by keeping all the other muscles in my leg strong."

Chacon has had two surgeries on the meniscus inside the knee, and he strongly considered having another after last season. But a doctor advised him in October that doing so would only exacerbate the problem, and all concerned decided against it.

"I've got some pretty good arthritis," Chacon said. "The thought process was that, if I can keep my leg strong enough to where I can minimize the pain and the fluid that gets in there from day to day, I'll be better off than if I go in there again to have it scoped, shave out more meniscus and basically creating more arthritis."

Chacon has made his scheduled pitching sessions and run through all fielding drills this spring with no apparent problem.

Herrera impresses

One of the more uplifting sights for management in the early days of spring training has been the performance and poise of starter Yoslan Herrera, the Cuban defector signed this offseason.

On the mound, he has displayed a seemingly effortless delivery, dazzling offspeed stuff and, perhaps most impressive, an ability to throw all four pitches with an unwavering motion.

Off the mound, despite knowing little English, he appears to be assimilating well, and not just with the Spanish-speaking players. He often is seen smiling and joking with just about anyone, including Japanese starter Masumi Kuwata.

"He's very intriguing," manager Jim Tracy said. "Watching him pitch, you can see he knows what he's doing. His delivery is very consistent. And you can see, too, that he's handled himself extremely well in all areas over the first three days of camp."

Buried treasure

The 2 1/2-hour workout took place despite a cold, constant and fierce wind out of the north that made the temperatures feel like the 30s.

Thirteen pitchers had 40-pitch bullpen sessions. Ian Snell and minor-leaguer Kip Bouknight were with that group Friday and did not pitch yesterday, but pitching coach Jim Colborn said that was simply because he was shuffling the groups. Snell is scheduled to pitch today.

Center fielder Chris Duffy and third baseman Jose Bautista reported to camp two days before position players are required. Third baseman Freddy Sanchez and outfielders Jason Bay and Xavier Nady were due later in the day.

The Pirates feel confident enough in Bautista's ability to play shortstop, Tracy said, that he could be the backup middle infielder if needed. But he stressed that "all our options are wide open."

The workout today begins at 9:50 a.m. The first full-squad workout Wednesday will begin at noon.



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