Spring Synopsis: Roles of Burnett, Dumatrait clarified

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The game: If Ian Snell looked a little jittery, he might have had cause.

Taking the mound the day after the Pirates approached him about a long-term contract, his three long-term innings -- 59 total pitches -- included a run, four hits, two walks and a wild pitch in the 4-1 loss yesterday to the Detroit Tigers at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.

"I was rushing myself a little bit," Snell said. "I was all giddy, overanxious out there. I couldn't settle down."

Of having the team approach him about a contract, he added: "To me, it's not really about making a whole lot of money. It's about staying here and winning. That's what I want. Believe me, there were times when I wanted to get out as quickly as possible. But with the things you're seeing from ownership and everyone else, things are getting better."

Snell did throw some quality pitches, including a slider and changeup for his two strikeouts, but the brunt of the damage came when Marcus Thames lined a first-pitch fastball over the left-field fence in the third inning to put Detroit ahead, 3-0.

The Pirates had only six hits in losing their sixth game in a row.

"People ask me if I'm anxious for the season to start? Yes, I am," manager John Russell said. "But am I ready? No. This is a work in progress, and there's more to do."

Today: Tom Gorzelanny will make a two-inning start against the Toronto Blue Jays' Dustin McGowan, 1:05 p.m. in Bradenton, Fla. Zach Duke will pitch the next three, followed by Jimmy Barthmaier, Damaso Marte, Casey Fossum and John Grabow.

Camp roster: 65, with 38 pitchers, 6 catchers, 13 infielders and 8 outfielders.

Injury update: Outfielder Nate McLouth (hamstring) was back in the lineup and had a leadoff walk and steal. He later singled and finished 1 for 2. Reliever Elmer Dessens (back) still is not throwing and has no target date to do so. He could be part of the first wave of cuts, which could come Monday.

Battle lines: Sean Burnett was delighted to hear from management yesterday that his focus for now will be making the bullpen, where there are four vacancies. And he backed that up with a perfect fourth inning, needing only 11 pitches and freezing Michael Hollimon with a well-placed changeup.

"We're going to see where he fits," Russell said. "He's been throwing the ball really well all spring."

Pitching schedules were posted through Monday, and several noteworthy elements emerged: Phil Dumatrait will make the team's first four-inning start, yet another sign that he could provide the top challenge to Zach Duke in the rotation. Jaret Wright, still a rotation option, still is making one-inning appearances. And Danny Moskos was added to those throwing side sessions, marking the first step of his transition to starter.

Fun in the sun: Jim Leyland did not make the three-hour drive from the Tigers' complex in Lakeland, Fla., but he sent Lloyd McClendon, another former Pirates manager, to take his place:

McClendon's day job might be the best in baseball, being the hitting coach for a lineup some already are calling maybe the greatest in history with the offseason addition of Miguel Cabrera. And he seems plenty aware of the opportunity that presents.

"It's an opportunity, all right," McClendon said. "A hell of an opportunity."

Before batting practice, McClendon embraced several old acquaintances, including Russell, his former third-base coach. When McClendon was asked by the Post-Gazette in early November about Russell's hiring, he declined comment, leading some to speculate there was a rift between the two. But he flatly rejected that yesterday.

"No, absolutely not," McClendon said. "Nothing to it at all."

Inside pitch: There is not much mass transit in Florida, but the Pirates are traveling together everywhere.

In the past, many players chose to drive their own vehicles to road games, and all of them did so when commuting across Bradenton between Pirate City and McKechnie Field. There has been no hard-and-fast rule to change that, but management has strongly suggested that everyone take the team buses to account for their safety, and buses are available for those crosstown trips.

Even team president Frank Coonelly has been sharing the ride.

Countdown to Atlanta: 25 days



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