Spring Synopsis: Carrasco brings early heat


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

Day 2:

The Pirates' three-hour workout, under mostly sunny skies and 80-degree temperatures at Pirate City, brought more bunting and fielding practice for pitchers, more hitting for the catchers and position players.

Most notable, all 20 pitchers scheduled to have their first bullpen sessions did so: Matt Morris, Paul Maholm, Zach Duke, John Grabow, Franquelis Osoria, John Van Benschoten, Jaret Wright, Masumi Kuwata, Danny Moskos, Hector Carrasco, Casey Fossum, Ty Taubenheim, T.J. Beam, Romulo Sanchez, Luis Munoz, Jimmy Barthmeier, Evan Meek, Josh Sharpless, Jesse Chavez and Josh Shortslef.

Today: The pitchers who threw Day 1 are back for a second session, beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Camp roster: 66, with 38 pitchers, 5 catchers and 9 position players in camp. Others do not have to report yet. First baseman Doug Mientkiewicz reported early and took batting practice. Catcher Carlos Maldonado remained in Venezuela because of visa issues. His place was filled temporarily by minor-leaguer Milver Reyes.

Injury updates: Reliever Damaso Marte (flu) was held out of workouts again but predicted he could be back soon. ... Freddy Sanchez (shoulder) took grounders on Pirate City's half-field early in the morning but limited his throwing to flips to second base. ... Outfielder Chris Duffy (shoulder) took his first full batting practice.

Battle lines: Pitchers are advised not to throw their hardest in their initial bullpen sessions, but those on the roster's fringe don't always take heed.

Take Hector Carrasco, a 38-year-old veteran who pitched for the Los Angeles Angels last season: He is one of a large lot vying for four bullpen openings, and he sent a loud -- very loud -- message by firing bullet after bullet into catcher Michel Hernandez's mitt.

That might have reminded some observers of the way Jose Mesa and Salomon Torres would aggressively approach their first sessions.

"I guess it's the Latin way," bullpen catcher Heberto Andrade said.

That might be true: Latin American players tend to pitch in winter leagues, and Carrasco made eight starts in the Dominican Republic.

Fun in the sun: Morris, having as much fun as anyone in camp, summoned catcher Raul Chavez for a meeting between the mound and plate before his bullpen session. He put his glove over his mouth and loudly whispered: "One is for fastball, two is for ..."

Chavez hesitated for a moment, clearly not sure if Morris was being serious, before each laughed and went back to work.

Overheard: Mientkiewicz, on his hope of cracking the roster by showing the Pirates he can play third base and the corner outfield spots for the first time since he was in the minors a decade ago: "I've seen a lot of average to below-average outfielders turn into first basemen. It's worth giving the other way a try."

Countdown: Days to the first pitch in Atlanta: 44.



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