Pirates-Rays rained out, shuffling the pitching

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BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Pirates and Tampa Bay Rays had their Grapefruit League game canceled by rain this afternoon at McKechnie Field.

Daniel McCutchen had been set to make his first start, and closer Octavio Dotel was to make his first appearance after being slowed by a strained oblique.

Now, those two will pitch in Class AAA split-squad games tomorrow. McCutchen will pitch against a Philadelphia minor league team in Clearwater, Fla., as will Chris Jakubauskas, Brian Burres and Vinnie Chulk. Kevin Hart will start another Class AAA split-squad game tomorrow at Pirate City, followed by Dotel, Jeff Karstens, Jack Taschner, Brian Bass and Evan Meek.

The Pirates' major league team is off tomorrow.

The starters for Grapefruit play, which resumes Tuesday, remain the same. Ross Ohlendorf will pitch Tuesday.

Earlier this morning at Pirate City, Zach Duke pitched six scoreless innings -- one hit, nine strikeouts, one walk and 71 pitches -- in a minor league intrasquad game.

He actually pitched five innings and needed to get six outs in the fifth to achieve his pitch count, which underscores his efficiency. He gave up the lone hit after there were "five outs in the fifth," as he glibly put it.

Duke added that he "felt great out there and threw all four pitches for strikes."

The lineup he faced included top prospect Pedro Alvarez and some of the players most recently cut.

Reliever Joel Hanrahan, recovering from his elbow injury, pitched his first live batting practice, making 26 pitches -- mostly fastballs and a few sliders -- and pronounced himself "fine" afterward.

Hanrahan's next step will be a minor league game Wednesday, but do not expect to see him in Grapefruit League action soon, if at all. If the Pirates, as expected, intend to open the season with Hanrahan on the 15-day disabled list, they can make his placement retroactive up to the final 10 days of spring training so long as he does not appear in any Grapefruit games.

In that scenario, Hanrahan would miss only the first five days of the season.

Infielder Ramon Vazquez (shoulder) took batting practice Sunday morning and was available for the game.


Dejan Kovacevic: dkovacevic@post-gazette.com . Find more at PBC Blog.


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