Day Ten of 2008 S/T

Monday, February 25 2008 @ 03:11 am UTC

Contributed by: WTM

By Jim Sullivan

Another warm summer day which began cloudy and humid until the bright sun broke through in late morning.

At the beginning of practice today the media was called to meet with General Manager Neal Huntington for an impromptu news conference by Pirate Media Relations Manager Dan Hart.

Since it was media related, the meeting was held within the gold chain, so that us non-media types could only guess what was going on.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the GM walked by me, and without losing stride, simply said to me "he'll be in uniform tomorrow".
A couple friends asked "what was that about".
Since I had asked Neal Huntington just yesterday what the hold-up was on the signing of the Korean relief pitcher Kim, I knew immediately
what he was talking about.

In order to add Kim to the forty man roster, one spot had to be cleared.
Infielder Ray Olmedo was waived, which was an interesting choice since he had been claimed from Toronto less than a month ago, which necessitated the waiving of LHP Sean Burnett.
The odds on choice to be sent packing was local boy, Josh Wilson, whose father is the Duquesne University Baseball Coach.
This may be a similar situation to last year when local boy (and middle infielder) Don Kelly was given every chance to make the team.
If Doug Mient----is as versatile as he claims, then I suspect, Josh Wilson doesn't have much of a chance to break camp with the major league team.
Non-roster infielder Luis Rivas, out of the Cleveland organization, has probably shown the best glove to date, but the odds on favorite is probably Chris Gomez, who has a guaranteed one million dollar contract.

Now to the on-field activity. Once again, drills focusing on the catcher's ability to pick up an incoming throw on a bounce, and make a lunging tag of the imaginary sliding baserunner, was the focus of the early drills.
It appears obvious that management watched a lot of tape of 2007 Pirate games over the winter.

The pitchers were using two other infields for fielding drills, in which they had to cover first base. This also has been a recurring theme of this camp.

After the pitchers fielding drills, half of the pitchers went to the bullpen mound, in preparation for throwing batting practice.
The first line of pitchers throwing off the mound were, left to right, Matt Morris, Hector Carrasco, John Grabow, and Paul Maholm.
After the first group was done warming up, then the second group toed the rubber in the bullpen.
That group consisted of, left to right, Jarret Wright, John Van Bens--, Zach Duke, and his Texas schoolmate, (with the devastating curve ball), Casey Fossum.

Pitching Coach Jeff Andrews oversaw the bullpen activity, while Bench Coach Gary Varsho (in his role of Camp Drill Sergeant), spoke to Ronny Paulino before he warmed up Paul Maholm, and then focused on Paulino during the activity.
It appears that the coaching staff is intent on staying on top of Ronny, in the hope that he stays focused.

On the other side of the bullpen screen, one pitcher, Damaso Marte was warming up. This screened off area is often used for pitchers "who-are-not-quite-ready-for-prime-time", and Marte rehabbing from the flu, would certainly fit in that category.

Particular attention was paid to Zach Duke when he threw batting practice. The batters against Zach were limited to Freddy Sanchez and Jack Wilson, while Ryan Doumit did the receiving.
The GM and Manager were behind the cage when Duke was throwing, and upon completion Zach walked directly over to Jeff Andrews for a critique, including a pat on the back.
Zach Duke was later heard to say that he wished the season would start tomorrow.

The ensuing batting practice, whether by pitcher or coach, took the remainder of the session, in preparation for the contest Wednesday against the "hated" Manatee Community College.
That contest will be followed up by the start of the exhibition
season, Thursday and Friday against the Phillies.

I haven't spent any time talking about infield practice, which I enjoy watching, simply because, to date, those sessions have been limited to the "half field" which is inaccessible to fans.
Hopefully, in the last couple workouts at Pirate City, those drills will occur in a public area.

We'll see what transpires tomorrow.

Jim Sullivan