BRADENTON, Fla. -- The rites of spring 2010 for one quartet of Pirates pitchers includes posting their pool standings on the wall, mucking and grinding in air hockey, watching "American Idol" and the Olympics, cooking in, and occasionally hitting golf balls out the back door of their rented fairway house.
Put four former New York Yankees under one roof, this is what you get. Just don't call it Animal House, because housemates Daniel McCutchen and Steven Jackson are peaceable, married men, and they contend that Ross Ohlendorf soon will be one, too.
"We've all played together for a while," said Jackson, who roomed last year on the Yankees' Scranton-Wilkes Barre Class AAA club with Anthony Claggett, a fellow Pirates non-roster invitee and roommate in this home for former New York pitchers. "We have a good time. Play some pool tournaments. It's pretty low key. Once 8 o'clock comes around, it's pretty much all 'American Idol' and the Olympics right now."
McCutchen, who came with Ohlendorf, Jeff Karstens (a Tampa resident) and Jose Tabata in the 2008 Xavier Nady-Damaso Marte trade, is the "life of the house," Claggett said. The heck with the competition for the No. 5 starter, this guy pulls out his guitar and acts as if he could compete on their favorite show.
"He likes to sing something during the commercials," Ohlendorf said.
"It's actually not too bad," added Claggett, who, same as Jackson, came to the Pirates last season after being waived by the Yankees.
The house, which the Pirates front office found for them, is rented by the next-door neighbors -- who apparently fixed it up for their three tennis-playing sons near IMG Academies.
"You walk outside the back door, you're right on a fairway," Claggett said. "I don't know which one, we haven't played it yet. But we've gone over there and hit some balls. I'm sure we'll play a few soon."
Mostly, they play pool. "Some pretty intense pool," McCutchen clarified.
The four eat healthy without ordering out.
"We all cook, actually," Claggett said. "Cutch cooked some fajitas the other night that were pretty good. Sometimes, we cook together, sometimes, one guy will cook for everyone and everyone else will clean up,"
Octavio Dotel shot a thumbs-up, and Joel Hanrahan happily resumed strength exercises, a few of which he usually despises. So Friday morning brought some encouraging health signs for the back end of the bullpen.
"I'm just trying to get out there as fast as possible and as strong as possible," Hanrahan said of his return, which could come in time for opening day. "They have a better idea in the training room. As much as I could try to argue with them and try to speed it up, it's not going to do any good. They have a plan. Just follow that plan."
Hanrahan was cleared to resume working after being shut down in January minicamp and again this past week with a flexor-pronator strain in his right, throwing arm. He is scheduled to start tossing from 45 feet Wednesday. If all goes well, after 10 days of strengthening work, he could soon pitch off a mound.
As for Dotel, the presumptive closer missed his fourth consecutive day after straining his left oblique last weekend, but said: "I'm going to start throwing next week."
• The Friday workout went briskly so team personnel could take part in the annual Pirate Charities Golf Tournament and banquet.
• Making a utility player of Neil Walker might include more than third base, second base, outfield and catcher. "We will move him around -- first base [too], maybe," Russell said. "Just introductory things right now. So far, he's picked up things relatively quickly."
Chuck Finder: firstname.lastname@example.org . First Published February 27, 2010 5:00 AM