Pirates Notebook: Grabow is resting his injured left elbow

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Pirates have a potential problem in their bullpen because left-hander John Grabow currently is unable to pitch because of inflammation in his left elbow.

Grabow, who last season stranded a National League-best 82.5 percent of the runners he inherited (33 of 40), last pitched in a game Sunday against Cincinnati. He allowed four runs in his only inning and was visibly upset when the game ended.

"The ball's just not coming out [of his hand] the right way," Grabow said yesterday. "I've tried to pitch through it, but it's not getting better. It's getting worse. I had to swallow my pride and go into the training room and tell them."

The Pirates had tests run on Grabow's elbow. Those tests indicated rest to allow the inflammation to ease.

Grabow is scheduled to throw on the side Monday to see if the rest this past week has helped.

Should the Pirates lose Grabow for any significant length of time, their bullpen would be greatly weakened. Damaso Marte would rank as the only left-hander with any kind of big-league track record.

Left-hander Juan Perez, claimed off waivers from the New York Mets in August, has pitched in seven major-league games -- all with the Pirates.

Perez did fare well in the Dominican Winter League, allowing four earned runs in 192/3 innings.

Right-handers Kevin Gryboski and Dan Kolb, a former closer with Milwaukee and Atlanta, could be used to get out left-handed batters.

Devil Rays top Pirates

The Pirates lost their preseason game to Tampa Bay, 8-3, yesterday. The win ended a 13-game losing streak for the Devil Rays, who "improved" to 2-14.

Starter Tom Gorzelanny allowed three hits and two runs in the first inning, then pitched extremely well. He held the Devil Rays scoreless in his final three innings.

Right-handed reliever Jonah Bayliss, pitching in his first game after an early camp strained left quadriceps, was struck on the palm of his right hand by a sharp bouncer in the sixth inning. He finished the inning and expects to be able to pitch in his next turn.

Michael Ryan went 2 for 4, raising his spring average to .429 (15 for 35).

Don Kelly hit a home run in the ninth inning.

McCutchen has field day

Andrew McCutchen, 20, the Pirates' top pick in the 2005 draft, dazzled in center field Thursday night in the Pirates' game against Cincinnati in Sarasota.

He made a great catch of a line drive in front of him in the second inning, a spectacular catch of a drive into the gap in right-center field in the third inning -- which he turned into a double play -- and a super grab on a ball that seemed over his head in the fifth inning.

"Awesome," said Rusty Kuntz, a Pirate outfield instructor. "He just put on a clinic. A good center fielder has to see the ball go into the [hitting] zone, come out of the zone off the bat and be able to be moving in that direction, and he did all of those [Thursday] night. It was pretty impressive."

"It was a thrill -- for me and I'm sure for the coaches and everybody else," McCutchen said.

Burnett continues to impress

Sean Burnett also performed well Thursday night as he continues his comeback from elbow surgery, Sept. 22, 2004.

He allowed the Reds two hits in four scoreless innings. He has not allowed an earned run in 11 innings this spring but still seems destined to begin the season with Class AAA Indianapolis.

"I've just got to try to make it tough on them to send me down," Burnett said. "I'm healthy and that's the key. If I'm healthy, I can pitch. I think if I'm healthy, I'm as good as anybody here."

Standing room only for opener

The Pirates announced yesterday that only standing room tickets remain for the home opener against St. Louis, at 1:35 p.m. April 9.

Standing room can be purchased for $8 per ticket.

Twins on menu

The Pirates today are scheduled to play Minnesota in Bradenton. Tony Armas Jr. starts for the Pirates; Boof Bonser for the Twins.



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