Statcast helps show Cervelli's great frame work

Bucs backstop provides extra value with impressive skill

Statcast helps show Cervelli's great frame work

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Pirates pitchers call it a "vacuum." They throw a pitch down in the zone, maybe even just under the zone, and Francisco Cervelli's gloved left hand sucks it up.

Cervelli has a knack for receiving and presenting pitches -- for pitch framing, as it's known around the game. That ability wasn't lost on the Pirates, who acquired him two years ago to replace Russell Martin and signed him last year to a three-year, $31 million contract extension that kicks in this season.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bucs avoid arbitration with 5 eligible players

Mercer, Cole, Nicasio, Hutchison, Hughes agree to deals; Watson unsigned

Bucs avoid arbitration with 5 eligible players

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Pirates agreed to terms on Friday with starter Gerrit Cole, shortstop Jordy Mercer and reliever Juan Nicasio, leaving only one arbitration-eligible player -- closer Tony Watson -- without a set salary for 2017.

Pittsburgh will most likely go to an arbitration hearing with Watson next month. He would be the Bucs' only case, as they announced one-year deals with all five of their other eligible players: Cole, Mercer, Nicasio, Drew Hutchison and Jared Hughes.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Young pitchers happy to keep 'mentor' Nova

Young pitchers happy to keep 'mentor' Nova

BRADENTON, Fla. -- When Ivan Nova joined the Pirates last August, Chad Kuhl found him to be a quiet veteran. Nice, but not particularly outgoing. Then one day, Kuhl asked his fellow starter and clubhouse neighbor a question about his two-seam fastball.

"He opened up. We had this 30-minute conversation on how to throw it, and when it's not going well, things to correct and look for," Kuhl recalled. "It was this wealth of knowledge that he has. You've just got to ask."

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Lindblom follows faith, family from Korea to Pirates

With mutual respect in organization, righty at newborn daughter's side as she battles heart defect

Lindblom follows faith, family from Korea to Pirates

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Josh Lindblom doesn't believe in coincidence. After the last six months and the past few years, how could he? Coincidence did not lead him here.

Lindblom has spent this week at Pirates minicamp, on the same back fields and bullpen mounds where he might have been two years ago. He's a veteran now, 29 years old in a clubhouse full of rookies and prospects.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bell shapes up as Bucs' first baseman for '17

Rookie ready to go at minicamp after offseason work

Bell shapes up as Bucs' first baseman for '17

BRADENTON, Fla. -- All week, Josh Bell has made his best sales pitch. His teammates file in to the Pirate City clubhouse, eat, shower, dress and leave after a morning of minicamp workouts. Bell follows the same routine, but he's added another wrinkle to his offseason work.

Bell has dived into yoga this offseason, dropping weight and increasing his flexibility. As a result, he's down to about 230 pounds. Bell reported to Spring Training last year around 250 pounds after spending the winter packing on muscle. The rookie believes the sessions have helped improve his coordination, which should pay off at the plate and at first base.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Taillon mindful of avoiding sophomore slump

Pirates righty has shown a work ethic and maturity beyond his years

Taillon mindful of avoiding sophomore slump

BRADENTON, Fla. -- When Jameson Taillon walked into manager Clint Hurdle's office for his exit interview last season, he heard the warning: The sophomore slump is real.

General manager Neal Huntington has often mentioned the second-year slide many players encounter. Typically, Huntington says, it comes about one of two ways. Some players, having come so far to reach the Majors and succeed at a high level, think they've finally arrived and let down their guard. The others, working to stay a step ahead of the league, try so hard to improve that they get away from what made them successful in the first place.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Webb excited for fresh start with Pirates

Rule 5 Draft selection participating in club's mini-camp this week

Webb excited for fresh start with Pirates

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Tyler Webb didn't make any plans for the Rule 5 Draft last month. More than anything, he was surprised the annual event took place so early -- beginning at 9 a.m. ET on the final day of the Winter Meetings. He followed the proceedings on Twitter while working out at the University of South Carolina, his alma mater.

The Pirates selected Webb from the Yankees in the Major League portion of the draft, adding the big left-hander to their bullpen competition. After spending parts of three seasons in Triple-A, Webb was pleased to hear he'd have a shot at cracking Pittsburgh's big league roster.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

New year renewal: Bucs' Diaz happy, healthy

After injury-plagued 2016, club's No. 9 prospect expects to fulfill potential behind plate

New year renewal: Bucs' Diaz happy, healthy

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Elias Diaz could barely hide his excitement about turning the page on 2016.

"Definitely a tough year, but it's over. New year!" Diaz said, sitting in front of his locker at Pirate City. "[I'm] healthy. Let's see what's going to happen this year."

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Sadler, Sanchez return to hill in Bucs' workouts

Recovered from Tommy John surgery, righties could be on rotation track

Sadler, Sanchez return to hill in Bucs' workouts

BRADENTON, Fla. -- For baseball-starved fans in the midst of winter, the sound of catchers' gloves popping Tuesday morning was more than welcome. For the Pirates, so was the sight of Casey Sadler and Angel Sanchez on the mound.

Sadler and Sanchez, recovered from Tommy John surgery, threw in the bullpen at Pirate City on the second day of the club's voluntary workouts. Sadler threw all fastballs in his first mound session of the year, the start of a progression that should put him on track for a "fairly normal" Spring Training.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Spring is in the air: First workout dates announced

Spring is in the air: First workout dates announced

Despite the frigid temperatures throughout many big league cities, Major League Baseball's announcement Tuesday of the first workout dates of Spring Training should be enough to warm the hearts of baseball fans everywhere.

The following are the first Spring Training workout dates, subject to change, both for pitchers and catchers and full squads of the 30 Major League clubs. 

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Quintana trade could reinvigorate Pirates

Adding reliable White Sox lefty would help Bucs compete with Cubs, Cards

Quintana trade could reinvigorate Pirates

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The offseason is a time for bold moves. It's also an opportunity to make bold predictions.

Offseason forecasts of any kind are a challenging exercise, and it's perhaps even more difficult to anticipate transactions, especially trades. But we'll stay within the realm of reality with the Pirates and boldly predict Pittsburgh will acquire left-hander Jose Quintana from the Chicago White Sox.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

With callup in sight, Meadows gets spring invite

Potential CF of future to get first taste of Major Leagues at camp

With callup in sight, Meadows gets spring invite

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Austin Meadows doesn't know Andrew McCutchen all that well. When they played together in Spring Training two years ago, Meadows said he found McCutchen to be "humble and funny, a great guy for sure."

Their history may be brief, but their futures appear to be intertwined.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Internal candidates highlight Bucs' spring NRIs

Internal candidates highlight Bucs' spring NRIs

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Pirates have invited an additional 19 non-roster players to Spring Training, a group headlined by a pair of top prospects -- outfielder Austin Meadows and shortstop Kevin Newman -- set to appear in Major League camp for the first time.

Eighteen of the 19 non-roster invitees announced Monday played in the Pirates' organization last year, and virtually all of them were developed within the system. The high volume of homegrown talent set for Spring Training signified two things to general manager Neal Huntington.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rogers clears waivers, sent to Triple-A

Rogers clears waivers, sent to Triple-A

PITTSBURGH -- Jason Rogers will remain in the Pirates organization after being removed from the roster two weeks ago.

Rogers was sent outright to Triple-A Indianapolis on Friday. The infielder was taken off the 40-man roster on Dec. 23 to clear a spot for right-hander Nefi Ogando. Rogers has been playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic for Tigres del Licey.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Catch game: Statcast shows Bucs' OF strengths

MLB's tracking technology puts McCutchen, Marte and Polanco's play under microscope

Catch game: Statcast shows Bucs' OF strengths

PITTSBURGH -- How did Andrew McCutchen stack up among center fielders last year? What makes Starling Marte such an elite defender? How is Gregory Polanco developing in the outfield?

In this era of statistical enlightenment throughout baseball, defensive questions remain the most difficult to answer. But with the advent of MLB's Statcast™ tracking technology, the game has been flooded by more concrete data about outfielders' route-running, speed, reaction time and more.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Versatile middle relievers should improve 'pen

Huntington: Multiple-inning guys will help 'protect' young rotation

Versatile middle relievers should improve 'pen

PITTSBURGH -- Last year, the Pirates sought to build a bullpen that would "protect" their rotation, gathering a handful of long relievers behind the back-end trio of Mark Melancon, Tony Watson and Neftali Feliz. The plan was solid in theory but flawed in execution.

"It just didn't work very well," general manager Neal Huntington said recently.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

'Forgotten man' Kingham eyeing MLB debut in '17

Prospect finished rehab from Tommy John surgery last year

'Forgotten man' Kingham eyeing MLB debut in '17

PITTSBURGH -- Nick Kingham finished the demanding rehabilitation process from Tommy John surgery last year. He doesn't have to look far to find a perfect example for how to handle the next step.

Kingham, the Pirates' No. 10 prospect, has spent the offseason living in the Houston area with Jameson Taillon. Kingham underwent reconstructive elbow surgery in May 2015, 13 months after Taillon's procedure.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Inbox: Is Quintana a possibility for rotation?

Beat reporter Adam Berry answers questions from Bucs fans

Inbox: Is Quintana a possibility for rotation?

Any buzz on [Jose] Quintana or is that fading into the background at this point? Would love to have the top four set going to Florida. -- @scubaguy08

The holiday season is typically quiet throughout baseball, and this past week or so was no exception. USA Today's Bob Nightengale reported the Pirates and Yankees were the "most aggressive" clubs in their pursuit of Quintana, and that was about it.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Jonathan Mayo

Glasnow garners votes for game's top pitching prospect

In survey, Benintendi edges Moncada, Reyes runs away with top-hurler tag

Glasnow garners votes for game's top pitching prospect

A year ago, MLBPipeline.com introduced the Pipeline Poll, where general managers and scouting executives were asked to choose the game's top prospects. In that edition, Corey Seager was the clear-cut winner as the overwhelming choice for top overall prospect, and that seemed to work out pretty well.

The 22-year-old was an All-Star, won the National League Rookie of the Year Award, finished third in the NL Most Valuable Player Award voting and set a slew of franchise records, including most homers, hits, doubles and total bases by a Dodgers rookie shortstop.

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Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Many offseason scenarios possible for Pirates

With Hudson, Nova filling two needs, Pittsburgh still could go number of different directions

Many offseason scenarios possible for Pirates

PITTSBURGH -- So where do the Pirates go from here?

After a slow start to the offseason, general manager Neal Huntington swiftly checked off the top two items on Pittsburgh's to-do list. In came Daniel Hudson, a veteran right-handed setup man, then Ivan Nova re-signed to improve the Bucs' rotation after a remarkable two-month turnaround this past season.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kang reportedly removed from Korea's roster

PITTSBURGH -- Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang has been dropped from Korea's World Baseball Classic roster, the Yonhap News Agency reported Tuesday night.

Kang was expected to represent Korea in the international tournament this March, but he was arrested in December for DUI while back in his home country. Korea manager In-Sik Kim recently told Yonhap News that given the "worsening public opinion" of Kang -- a former Korean Baseball Organization star who signed with the Pirates two years ago -- he could be removed from the roster.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cutch, Cole will be catalysts heading into 2017

Position undecided for franchise player, while ace hopes to stay healthy

Cutch, Cole will be catalysts heading into 2017

PITTSBURGH -- The morning after the Pirates' disappointing 2016 season ended in St. Louis, veteran reliever Jared Hughes took to Twitter to thank Pittsburgh's fans and posted a sentence that could serve as a motto of sorts for 2017.

"This setback is the platform for our comeback," Hughes wrote.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bucs designate prospect Garcia for assignment

Bucs designate prospect Garcia for assignment

The Pirates designated outfield prospect Willy Garcia for assignment on Saturday to make room for the recently re-signed Ivan Nova on their 40-man roster, the team announced.

Garcia was rated Pittsburgh's No. 15 prospect by MLBPipeline.com, and was the club's second-highest-ranked outfield prospect. But he struggled at the plate with Triple-A Indianapolis in 2016, hitting .245/.293/.366 with six home runs and 43 RBIs in 129 games, while striking out 131 times.

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David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

6 surprising Hall ballot one-and-done hitters

Edmonds, Delgado, Lofton among players who compare favorably to HOFers

6 surprising Hall ballot one-and-done hitters

This is Tim Raines' 10th and final year of eligibility on the Hall of Fame ballot, and the campaigning for Rock has been strong. But there will also be, inevitably, those among the candidates who never get that full run of chances.

Since 1979, in one form or another, the 5-percent rule has applied for potential Cooperstown inductees: receive at least five percent of the Baseball Writers Association of America's votes, stay on the ballot for another year; fall short of that mark, fall off future ballots. (The number of votes needed for election to the Hall is 75 percent.)

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David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter @_dadler. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Unlikely heroes emerge in Bucs' up-and-down '16

Nova, Polanco, Bell shine amid team's struggles, injuries

Unlikely heroes emerge in Bucs' up-and-down '16

PITTSBURGH -- Pirates general manager Neal Huntington may have inadvertently set the tone for this year in the final month of 2015, when he referred to the upcoming season as a "bridge."

Huntington did not intend to say the Bucs anticipated taking a step back in 2016. He meant the Pirates were moving away from one core group and, beginning in '16, pushing another set of players to the forefront. They still strived for success, ambitiously setting their sights on a division title.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Most amazing National League games of 2016

Most amazing National League games of 2016

The 2016 season in Major League Baseball was one of inspiring feats of athleticism, ballparks packed with ecstatic fans and the undeniable drama that comes with America's pastime. At the end of the 162-game push and an amazing October, one team was standing: the Chicago Cubs, who broke a 108-year championship drought and won the World Series for the National League.

But 14 other NL teams played all season and had their own pinnacle moments. In consultation with each club's beat reporter, here is the game of the year for each club in the NL in 2016:

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Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates re-sign Nova to 3-year deal

Pirates re-sign Nova to 3-year deal

PITTSBURGH -- Standing in front of his locker at PNC Park on Sept. 29, Ivan Nova made his preference clear. He did not want to leave the Pirates' clubhouse, he said, and he would do whatever he could to return in 2017.

Nova stayed true to his word. The Pirates addressed their biggest offseason need, announcing a three-year deal with the veteran right-hander on Tuesday. The contract will pay Nova $26 million, according to reports by FanRag Sports and FOX Sports. The deal includes $2 million per season in performance bonuses, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates rookie Bell focused on 'longevity'

Slugger working to improve, wants to be effective in bigs for as long as possible

Pirates rookie Bell focused on 'longevity'

PITTSBURGH -- Since the Pirates drafted him in 2011, but especially over the last few years, Josh Bell set his sights on reaching the Major Leagues. That was the end point, he thought, the ultimate goal, the light at the end of the tunnel. He made it this year, but it wasn't the finish line he'd built up in his mind.

"You realize you're just getting out of the starting blocks," Bell said.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.