Dreamcatcher: Holdzkom takes long road to bigs

Bucs reliever finds success after hitting all points on baseball map

Dreamcatcher: Holdzkom takes long road to bigs

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- John Holdzkom isn't even certain how many times he has been released.

"Five or six. Not fun," said Holdzkom, a tall man short on words.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Wild ride back to October shaped Bucs in 2014

Year in review: Harrison's All-Star campaign among Pirates' top 5 storylines

Wild ride back to October shaped Bucs in 2014

If 2013 was a "historically" good season for the Pirates, as manager Clint Hurdle often portrays it, the 2014 return to the playoffs was a "tenaciously" good season.

The Bucs dealt with everything from emotional and physical injury to disillusioning episodes on the field. In mid-June, they still reposed below .500, and chances of digging out were not promising, with only one cog of their season-opening rotation still standing.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Tekulve home for holidays with gift of new heart

Former Pirates pitcher can enjoy Christmas with his family

Tekulve home for holidays with gift of new heart

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rain was pelting PNC Park, delaying the game and putting ROOT Sports television programming on stand-by mode. The set in a lobby flickered with images of the 1979 World Series and the gangly right-hander delivering pitches from his knee tops.

Then Kent Tekulve walked through the door and followed the gazes of the people up to the screen to see himself retiring Baltimore Orioles. The crowd on TV cheered loudly -- the crowd in the lobby cheered even louder, patting the back of Tekulve's wet raincoat.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates win bidding for shortstop Kang

Club has 30-day window to negotiate contract with slugging infielder

Pirates win bidding for shortstop Kang

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Pirates submitted the high bid of $5 million for Korean shortstop Jung-ho Kang, formally accepted Monday by the Nexen Heroes to start the negotiating clock for the hard-hitting infielder.

The Bucs have 30 days to strike a deal with the 27-year-old Kang. Failing to do so would return Kang to Nexen and refund the posting fee to the Pirates.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

Can Kang provide plenty of bang for Bucs?

Korean infielder has talent, power to help Pittsburgh make another playoff push

Can Kang provide plenty of bang for Bucs?

When you've signed strong-armed neophytes from India and taught them how to pitch, and when you've invested almost six years in trying to get the first true African to the Major Leagues, no one can be too surprised when you take a shot on a 27-year-old shortstop in his prime, no matter what language he speaks.

Can they?

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Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

All you need to know about Korean star Kang

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All you need to know about Korean star Kang

On Monday it was revealed that the Pirates had won the right to negotiate with Korean shortstop, Jung-ho Kang, for $5,002,015. The team will now have the next 30 days to negotiate with the star of the Nexen Heroes.

While that's a killer name for a team, Kang's first club was even better: Hyundai Unicorns. (Unfortunately, the Unicorns went the way of the of the real Unicorns and no longer exist. They became the Heroes when Hyundai ran into financial problems.)

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Pirates add Hart to mix with 1-year deal

First baseman/outfielder spent 2014 with Mariners after missing all of '13 season

Pirates add Hart to mix with 1-year deal

CHICAGO -- The Pirates signed first baseman/outfielder Corey Hart to a one-year deal for the 2015 season on Friday.

In 10 Major League seasons, Hart, 32, has compiled a .271 batting average, 220 doubles, 33 triples, 160 home runs, 529 RBIs and 546 runs scored in 1,013 games between the Brewers (2004-2013) and Mariners (2014).

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Searage's latest mission? Revive careers of Richard, Liz

With prior reclamation projects, Bucs pitching coach has been up to the task

Searage's latest mission? Revive careers of Richard, Liz

Ray Searage comes into every spring feeling a bit like a cast member of a revival of the classic TV series "Mission: Impossible."

The Pirates' pitching coach pushes "play" on the digital recorder in his Pirate City locker and hears, "Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is ..." Searage always accepts the task, and repeatedly turns it into mission very-much-possible.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Huntington, Hurdle: Alvarez is option No. 1 at first

Huntington, Hurdle: Alvarez is option No. 1 at first

NEW YORK -- Two developments on Monday brought a little more clarity to perhaps the fuzziest inset of the 2015 Pirates' picture: The first-base cast.

Free-agent first baseman Michael Morse reached a two-year agreement with the Marlins, who reportedly had prior trade interest in Pedro Alvarez, among others, for that position.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gracious Pirates fans get candid answers from brass

President, GM, manager discuss recent success, potential moves

Gracious Pirates fans get candid answers from brass

PITTSBURGH -- A feature of every PirateFest is a question-and-answer program between fans and the management triumvirate of club president Frank Coonelly, general manager Neal Huntington and manager Clint Hurdle.

It is a compelling, no-holds-barred hour. The questions aren't prescreened. Two observations about Sunday's event: The Buccos chieftains sat under laurels, not the targets of recent years, on the Main Stage of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center; and they had looser, more relaxed lips than usually.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Dream of everyday catching in reach for Cervelli

Backstop hopes to avoid injury bug during first season with Pirates

Dream of everyday catching in reach for Cervelli

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates' new catcher was originally signed as a shortstop, is a high-energy guy renowned for his pitch-framing talents and came from the Yankees obsessed with learning a new pitching staff.

Are we sure Russell Martin didn't simply visit a plastic surgeon, adopt a new accent and change his name to Francisco Cervelli?

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

'Dream Outfield' intent on running down every ball

McCutchen, Marte, Polanco are three speediest Pirates

'Dream Outfield' intent on running down every ball

PITTSBURGH -- During a lively question-and-answer session with fans on the opening day of PirateFest, one of the most engaging questions heard from the floor concerned the fastest player on the Buccos.

The two dozen players and coaches seated on the main stage of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center all took turns making nominations. Andrew McCutchen got a lot of votes, as did Gregory Polanco, and the straw-poll winner was Starling Marte.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates pleased in reaching goals at Winter Meetings

Bucs check off both pressing items with signing of Liriano, acquisition of Bastardo

Pirates pleased in reaching goals at Winter Meetings

SAN DIEGO -- The Pirates did not arrive at the Winter Meetings with the most ambitious shopping list of the teams bent on roaring out of 2014. They do not leave as the busiest team, lost in the early frenzy of Chicago and the late dust of the Dodgers.

But -- perhaps no other team approached the Bucs' 1.000 batting average. General manager Neal Huntington knocked off both items on that short list, thus punctuating a satisfying offseason.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates unveil alternate jersey honoring Armed Forces

Pirates unveil alternate jersey honoring Armed Forces

PITTSBURGH -- Always a dedicated and passionate supporter of the Armed Forces through Pirates Charities, the club will show that care on its hearts during the 2015 season.

And on its shoulders, arms and torsos, too, as the Bucs unveiled new camouflage uniforms Saturday during the early hours of this weekend's PirateFest.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates ink Liriano to 3-year deal

Contract reportedly worth $39 million; richest free-agent signing in club history

Pirates ink Liriano to 3-year deal

SAN DIEGO -- Neal Huntington got his man. The Pirates reached agreement on Tuesday with free-agent left-hander Francisco Liriano on a three-year deal for a reported $39 million. The team announced the signing on Friday.

A physical exam needed to be taken before the contract could be completed. Liriano's first announced deal two years ago with the Pirates famously didn't become official until seven weeks later, the hangup in between being a fractured right arm.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates make one-year deal with Liz official

Former top prospect with Orioles rebooted career while pitching in Korea

Pirates make one-year deal with Liz official

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Pirates' eternal search for -- and admirable success with -- reclamation pitching projects has led them to the ultimate challenge: Right-hander Radhames Liz, with whom on Friday they finalized a one-year contract. The deal was originally reported on Nov. 21.

Liz is a former Top 100 prospect credited with being a hard thrower with an arresting breaking pitch. But here's the rub: That was nearly a decade ago, and he most recently appeared in the Majors in 2009.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates lose three, including Oliver, in Rule 5 Draft

Waldron, Urena selected in Triple-A phase; Bucs make no picks for third straight year

Pirates lose three, including Oliver, in Rule 5 Draft

SAN DIEGO -- In the Triple-A portion of Thursday morning's Rule 5 Draft, the Cardinals selected a right-hander with the first name Tyler out of the Pirates' Minor League system.

But relax -- his last name is Waldron, not Glasnow.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bastardo trades Pennyslvania zip codes, joins Pirates

Hurdle thrilled to add second lefty to 'pen; prospect Rodriguez heading to Phillies

Bastardo trades Pennyslvania zip codes, joins Pirates

SAN DIEGO -- The Pirates checked another item off their Winter Meetings shopping list on Wednesday, acquiring left-hander Antonio Bastardo from Philadelphia in return for left-handed prospect Joely Rodriguez.

"We had Bastardo profiled very high on our list of potential bullpen acquisitions," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He gives us a second left-hander in the bullpen, and not just a left-handed specialist. We feel it's a very, very solid addition to our bullpen."

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Burnett, Morton expect to be ready by start of season

Burnett, Morton expect to be ready by start of season

PITTSBURGH -- Even after keeping Francisco Liriano in their pitching rotation, the Pirates were believed to still be seeking another veteran starter because of the perceived uncertainty over Charlie Morton's availability for the beginning of the season.

General Manager Neal Huntington may sense less urgency for another starter after he consulted on Friday with Morton, who is confident of a timely recovery from surgery on the labrum in his right hip on Sept. 26.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bucs want to keep Walker in Pittsburgh for rest of career

Club has engaged in contract extension talks with Steel City native

Bucs want to keep Walker in Pittsburgh for rest of career

SAN DIEGO -- For the second time in three years, the Pirates have had preliminary discussions with Neil Walker about a contract extension. General manager Neal Huntington hopes the talks are more fruitful than they were in 2011, when they broke off quickly.

"We would like nothing more than to have Neil Walker end his career as a Pirate, there's no question about that," Huntington said. "We understand that he's a really good player, and we understand the local implications and the local ties he has."

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pitchers' hitting foremost on Hurdle's mind for next spring

Bucs manager also wants players to be more aggressive on basepaths

Pitchers' hitting foremost on Hurdle's mind for next spring

SAN DIEGO -- "Turning the page" apparently is a difficult baseball task. All managers encourage their players to forget about yesterday and focus on tomorrow. But when it comes to a manager turning his own page, it may as well be a concrete block.

At the Winter Meetings, Oakland's Bob Melvin has talked about the enduring pain of the come-from-ahead American League Wild Card loss in Kansas City, and the Angels' Mike Scioscia has admitted still living with the AL Division Series sweep by the Royals. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, taking his turn Wednesday to meet the national media, also has a 2014 memory he can't get out of his mind.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Mike Bauman

NL Central looking like 5-team race

NL Central looking like 5-team race

SAN DIEGO -- With the Cubs' signing of Jon Lester, the 2015 version of the National League Central can safely be projected as a five-team race.

The Cardinals' track record and pedigree suggest that they should still be the favorites. But every other team can offer a valid argument on behalf of its own chances.

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Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates comfortable with mix behind the plate

Recently acquired Cervelli is No. 1 catcher, with Stewart as the backup

Pirates comfortable with mix behind the plate

SAN DIEGO -- The Pirates had already demonstrated their high regard for Francisco Cervelli a month ago by swapping Justin Wilson to the Yankees for the catcher. Wilson is a hard-throwing young left-handed reliever who made 128 appearances the last two seasons, and all you need to know about the value of that commodity is recall the pursuit of free-agent southpaw Andrew Miller.

On Tuesday, Pittsburgh general manager Neal Huntington confirmed that esteem, leaving no doubt the 28-year-old Venezuelan is the Bucs' No. 1 catcher.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Depth could allow Pirates to give McCutchen extra rest

Depth could allow Pirates to give McCutchen extra rest

SAN DIEGO -- Gregory Polanco, as has been known all along, will go to Pirate City in two months as the starter in right as the Bucs' Dream Outfield comes into focus.

"Entering Spring Training, it's Polanco's job to keep," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said Tuesday.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Banister calls Hurdle 'best' manager he's been around

New Rangers skipper fondly recalls serving under Pirates manager

Banister calls Hurdle 'best' manager he's been around

SAN DIEGO -- In the 29-year run with the Pirates that came to conclusion with his hiring as Texas manager, Jeff Banister got to know and work with seven different managers, a list that included such iconic names as Chuck Tanner and Jim Leyland.

The best of the group, the one who made the most profound impression on a first-time manager?

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates taking part in MLB.com Auction for LUNGevity

Pirates taking part in MLB.com Auction for LUNGevity

SAN DIEGO -- Few Major League Baseball teams take their social responsibilities as seriously as do the Bucs, who regularly demonstrate this vital community connection through the efforts of Pirates Charities. Whenever a significant philanthropic mission is in play, the Bucs always bring a big bat to the plate.

And so it is with the auction ongoing to benefit the memory of a special member of the MLB family and to combat the disease that took her away from the game tragically early.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bucs add Lindblom to bullpen mix

Club claims righty off waivers, options Sanchez

Bucs add Lindblom to bullpen mix

SAN DIEGO -- In their recent low-profile additions, the Pirates have shown a definite affinity for onetime high Draft picks who, for one reason or another, have not yet performed up to their projections.

That trend continued with Monday's acquisition, on waivers, of right-hander Josh Lindblom from the A's. Lindblom, originally a second-round choice of the Dodgers in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, has had limited success in four seasons with four different clubs.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Little, Young join Pirates' baseball-operations staff

Little, Young join Pirates' baseball-operations staff

SAN DIEGO -- Many teams checked into this year's Winter Meetings with growing legions of personnel executives, and the Pirates have kept up with two fresh hires for their baseball operations.

The new voices and sets of eyes assisting general manager Neal Huntington belong to former big league manager Grady Little, hired as a senior advisor, and former Pittsburgh first baseman Kevin Young, in as special assistant.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Prep shortstop Rodgers leads 2015 Draft class

Duke's Matuella, 2014 top pick Aiken follow Florida high school infielder on Top 50 list

Prep shortstop Rodgers leads 2015 Draft class

For the second time in their history, the Arizona Diamondbacks own the top pick in the First-Year Player Draft. The first time that happened, in 2005, they took a high school shortstop with a potent bat.

Ten years after grabbing Justin Upton, the D-backs could follow a similar path. Lake Mary (Fla.) High School shortstop Brendan Rodgers sits atop MLBPipeline.com's initial Draft Top 50 rankings, thanks to his three plus tools (bat, power, arm) complemented by two solid ones (speed, defense). Unlike Upton, who immediately moved to the outfield as a professional, Rodgers should remain at shortstop.

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Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com and writes a blog, Callis' Corner. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates announce lineup for CARE-a-van

The Pirates released the schedule of the Pirates Charities CARE-a-van, presented by Highmark, which will take place from Dec. 10-12.

The 2014 CARE-a-van will take part in more than 20 private community events and travel to 11 cities in the greater Pittsburgh area.

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Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.