Spring Synopsis: Marte misses workout to illness


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BRADENTON, Fla. -- Notes, quotes and anecdotes from the Pirates' spring training ...

Day 1: Pitchers and catchers had their first workout yesterday at Pirate City, nearly two hours long under sunny skies.

Seventeen took to the mounds for bullpen sessions of 30-50 pitches, almost exclusively fastballs: Tom Gorzelanny, Ian Snell, Matt Capps, Sean Burnett, Elmer Dessens, Jonah Bayliss, Marino Salas, Ronald Belisario, Mike Thompson, Bryan Bullington, Juan Perez, Josh Sharpless, Dave Davidson, Yoslan Herrera, Brian Rogers, Phil Dumatrait and Adam Bernero.

Two who were scheduled to pitch but did not: Damaso Marte was held out because of the flu. He and the Pirates confirmed he has no symptoms from his Jan. 29 accident -- "Everything's OK," Marte said -- and will pitch as soon as his illness is gone.

Also, relief prospect Olivo Astacio was held out because of shoulder soreness he has felt much of the winter. His timetable is less clear.

Other activities included physicals, fielding and bunting for pitchers, hitting for position players.

Today: The rest of the pitchers will take the mound, including Matt Morris, Paul Maholm, Zach Duke and John Grabow.

The camp roster: 66, with 37 pitchers, five catchers and eight position players in camp.

Reliever Romulo Sanchez and catcher Carlos Maldonado were late arriving from their native Venezuela, Sanchez because of a travel snafu, Maldonado because of a visa delay. Sanchez arrived later in the day, and Maldonado is due today. Catcher Steve Lerud was added to the camp roster temporarily to replace Maldonado.

Nate McLouth, Nyjer Morgan, Neil Walker, Brian Bixler and Josh Wilson were early-reporting position players, as were three recovering from injuries: Freddy Sanchez, Chris Duffy and Kevin Thompson.

Injury updates: Sanchez (shoulder) is throwing at 75 feet and will need to be at 150 before being cleared for full activity. He and the rest of the position players took batting practice. ... Duffy (shoulder) is throwing at the same distance, and he spent nearly a half-hour swinging off a tee with hitting coach Don Long. ... Thompson (shoulder) took batting practice.

Battle lines: The most prominent battle of camp, McLouth and Morgan for center-field duty, got off to a quick start with each reporting five days before the required date.

Why so early?

"Do you know how cold it is where I live?" McLouth, a Michigan native, said. "I just wanted to be able to hit outside before things get rolling. It helps with depth perception, versus hitting in an indoor cage."

"Just happy to be here," Morgan said.

Fun in the sun: Chuck Tanner and Kent Tekulve were in the fold, the former back in the fold after five years in the Cleveland Indians' employ, the latter back for another round of teaching.

Bill Virdon was there, too, active as ever at age 76: He took grounders at first base as part of bunting practice, gloving each with predictable smoothness.

"He's amazing," Tanner said.

Bill Mazeroski will join the Pirates in a week or so.

Overheard: Rich Donnelly, new roving minor-league evaluator, on the challenge of getting to know everyone at the opening workout: "You can introduce yourself to the same player eight times."

Countdown to first pitch in Atlanta: 45 days.



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