Spring Synopsis: Photo day at camp
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Day 9: And on Sunday, the players were given a day of relative rest. The workout, which followed the trading-cards-and-more annual photo shoot in the morning, lasted just 105 minutes on the Pirate City fields in sun and 70 degrees. None of the pitchers threw. It ended without serious conditioning, but rather a light and easy sliding practice on mats in a shoes-off exercise that resembled a summertime slip-'n-slide frolic.
Up next: The next two days are back to the live-batting-practice grind, lasting up to three or four hours, as the Pirates prepare for Wednesday's start of the exhibition season.
Camp roster: There are 57 Pirates competing in camp -- 28 pitchers, 6 catchers and 23 position players. Bullpen coach Luis Dorante was excused to go home to the Miami area to be with his ailing wife, Solange.
Injury update: Andy LaRoche took some infield grounders and batting-cage swings in the morning, but coaches and medical types are being cautious with the back problem that goes back to 2007 for the Pirates' incumbent starting third baseman. As a precautionary measure, they likely will prevent him from playing in exhibitions Wednesday, maybe even Thursday. "They don't want me to go out and ... reinjure anything when it doesn't really matter. We have all spring. You don't want it to bite you in the butt during the season," said LaRoche, who missed his fourth practice day in succession after late-week spasms that required anti-inflammatory medication. It stems from an old, problematic disk area for which he now regrets disregarding his exercise regimen, something he since has resumed.
Camp competition: Arms vs. weariness. Always the great pitching conundrum of spring, tiring out or hurting pitchers this early was the reason why the Pirates made yesterday a non-throwing day.
Fun in the sun: That sliding-drill end to practice didn't exactly bring the house down, though it did trip up bench coach Gary Varsho, who slipped while trying to stand on the mats and prompted snickers from players. Pine-Richland's Neil Walker soon after slid across that same mat and held the pose for a few extra seconds for a photographer.
Overheard: No. 2 overall selection Pedro Alvarez isn't the only impressive young power hitter here. "You should watch [Jose] Tabata hit as well," John Russell said. "Tabata is kind of going under the radar in this camp, but this kid is a special bat as well. We're very excited about both of them." ... Phil Dumatrait, scheduled to return today to the mound for his third round of spring pitching after August shoulder surgery, is being rehabbed toward a starting role, Russell said. "You can always put him in the bullpen. But if you build him up in the bullpen and need a starter, it's going to be more difficult. So we'll get him going as a starter, and see how he progresses."
Meet me in St. Louis: 43 days until the opener.
First Published February 23, 2009 12:00 am