Pirates Notebook: Vitale's speech inspires, bay-bee
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Peter Diana, Post-Gazette
Pirates manager Jim Tracy signs some baseball cards for a fan during workouts in Bradenton, Fla.
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Today at noon, just before the Pirates begin their first full-squad workout, manager Jim Tracy will attempt to inspire his players with his annual spring speech in the Pirate City cafeteria.
He will have a difficult act to follow.
Dick Vitale, noted basketball commentator and extraordinary motivational speaker, addressed the pitchers and catchers for 15 minutes after their workout yesterday, and he did so with his trademark passion and a decibel level that had his voice ringing through the surrounding orange groves.
"How many guys feel sorry for themselves ... and pout ... and sulk ... and quit? You can't do that!" he shouted to the players circled around him in the outfield grass. "Do you have any idea how many people would love to be where you are as major-league ballplayers?"
When he was done, the players roared their approval and applauded.
"That's Dickie V, man, up close and personal," starter Shane Youman said. "That's pretty great."
Vitale, who lives in Bradenton, showed up on his own. He phoned Jim Trdinich, the Pirates' media relations director, yesterday morning and asked if, upon an informal visit with his daughter and two grandchildren, he could address the team from his perspective as a baseball fan. Management enthusiastically approved.
"He's a charismatic, energetic guy," general manager Dave Littlefield said. "We're very appreciative that he did this."
"A great surprise and an even greater gesture," Tracy said. "He was pretty good out there, huh?"
And how might Tracy be today?
"I'll be good, too," he replied with a wink.
Kolb gets help
Reliever Dan Kolb, trying to make the team on a minor-league contract, received attention from the medical staff shortly after his bullpen session yesterday morning at McKechnie Field. He was flexing his arm back and forth while being examined.
Kolb dismissed the discomfort as something he feels each spring, and he is not believed to be injured.
LaRoche has Tiger tale
First baseman Adam LaRoche had quite a time Saturday afternoon, golfing with Tiger Woods at his home course in Windermere, Fla., along with former Atlanta Braves teammates John Smoltz and Jeff Francouer.
Woods and Smoltz -- an avid and fine golfer -- are friends, and they have asked LaRoche along previously.
"Awesome experience," LaRoche said.
All except the result. All three baseball players took on Woods in a best-ball format, and they were beaten on all but one hole.
OK, not beaten ...
"We got killed," LaRoche said.
LaRoche, whose day was off to a lousy start when he showed up in jeans and realized he forgot his clubs, shot an 84. Woods' score, according to those there, was somewhere from 66 to 68.
All position players reported yesterday, as required, and 68 total players -- all except pitcher Serguey Linares, still stuck in the Dominican Republic -- will participate in the full-squad workout today that begins at 1 p.m.
Outfielder Jason Bay took batting practice and showed no signs of discomfort with his surgically repaired knee.
The two-hour workout for pitchers and catchers was highlighted by the first appearance of starter Tony Armas Jr., who missed the first four days because of visa delays. He was one of 16 pitchers who made bullpen sessions. "I'm very happy to be with this team," Armas said. "I feel it's a great opportunity for me."
Among the rest to take the mound: Zach Duke, Paul Maholm, Tom Gorzelanny, John Grabow, John Van Benschoten, Yoslan Herrera and Youman.
First Published February 21, 2007 12:00 am