Spring Synopsis: Earlier tees time a possibility
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Day 8: With only nine pitchers throwing live batting practice yesterday, the session ran almost an hour shorter than it did Friday, at roughly two hours, 50 minutes. It started as a chilly day by Florida standards. After an overnight 31 degrees measured at Pirate City, the temperature reached 47 by the workout's start and 70 by its sunny end.
Up next: Not exactly day-off material, but earlier tee times should be possible today. Manager John Russell, formally re-upped yesterday for a third season in 2010, said today will be a lighter workout to prepare for the exhibitions that begin Wednesday. Pitchers are excused from throwing off mounds or in BP today.
Camp roster: There are 57 Pirates competing in camp -- 28 pitchers, 6 catchers and 23 position players. Injury update: Pine-Richland's Neil Walker returned to work after sitting out Friday because of an intestinal ailment, but incumbent starting third baseman Andy LaRoche came back only for morning batting-cage rounds and missed his third consecutive day of field work due to back spasms. Russell reported improvement, calling LaRoche "more mobile." Meantime, pitcher Virgil Vasquez missed a second day with what Russell termed a tender arm. "This is the time in spring training where you start to notice stiffness and things," Russell said, ergo the lighter schedule today.
Camp competition: The pitching coach vs. the hitters. Joe Kerrigan, throwing BP due to a hole in the light rotation of nine BP pitchers, was calling out his close count to Freddy Sanchez when Sanchez ripped a liner between third base and shortstop. "Oh, God," Kerrigan exclaimed. It sounded as if Jack Wilson, next up, asked Kerrigan where that BP arm was last season, to which Kerrigan replied: "Broadcasting."
Fun in the sun: Bill Virdon, at 77, is never too old for tomfoolery. At workout's end, with the coaches and alumni assistants ambling off the field, Virdon snuck up behind Manny Sanguillen and "pantsed" him. Pulled his trousers down past his derriere. Luckily, Sanguillen was wearing a lonnnng black shirt.
Overheard: While Russell's contract option for 2010 was announced from Pirate City, president Frank Coonelly flew back to Pittsburgh to attend the On-Sale event at PNC Park. Pirates management was "pleased" by the turn out and the results at the launch of individual game ticket sales -- which opened two weeks earlier than last year. The April 13 home opener, three Skyblast games and the June 23-25 Cleveland Indians series proved to be in highest demand. "In addition, our value-priced season ticket plans, starting at less than $5 per game, have also been extremely popular," spokesman Brian Warecki said. "As we had hoped, many former single-game buyers either moved to full-season tickets or now are splitting full-season plans with their family and friends. As a result, our new season ticket sales continue to outpace last year."
Meet me in St. Louis: 44 days until the opener.
First Published February 22, 2009 12:00 am