Bats unable to back Liriano, Morton in loss to Yankees

McCutchen 0-for-3 in Grapefruit League debut

Bats unable to back Liriano, Morton in loss to Yankees

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Tyler Austin threw out the potential lead run at the plate in the sixth inning, and two innings later, hit a towering homer to snap a tie and give the Yankees a 2-1 exhibition victory over the Pirates on Thursday afternoon at McKechnie Field.

Austin hammered right-hander Deolis Guerra's pitch far over McKechnie Field's left-field stands to snap the tie he had preserved and give New York (1-1-1) its first Grapefruit League victory of the spring.

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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.

Harrison not concerned about minor ankle injury

Pirates third baseman will likely rest for a couple days as precaution

Harrison not concerned about minor ankle injury

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Josh Harrison traversed the Pirates' expansive new clubhouse Thursday morning, walking smoothly on his tightly-wrapped left ankle and smiling while fist-bumping teammates.

The scene supported Harrison's assessment of having been quickly pulled out of Wednesday's game as "just as a precaution" after turning his left ankle in a first-inning play against the Blue Jays.

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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.

Ready to make leap, Bucs' Lambo has new number, outlook

Outfielder-first baseman says he's much more prepared, confident as he seeks roster spot

Ready to make leap, Bucs' Lambo has new number, outlook

BRADENTON, Fla. -- His uniform number -- from the back-shelf 57 to the front-row 15 -- isn't the only thing Andrew Lambo has changed.

Some things you can't see.

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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.

New Bucs battery makes most of first pairing

Cole, Cervelli in sync as pitcher finishes with flourish and catcher shows athleticism

New Bucs battery makes most of first pairing

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Bucs plugged in a new battery on Wednesday. Gerrit Cole and his spring ERA both liked the connection.

In the start against the Blue Jays, a 4-1 Pirates loss, Cole was paired in game conditions for the first time with Francisco Cervelli, and the two hit it off well.

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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

Bucs lead clubs eager to take next step this season

With Giants eyeing repeat, spring camp brings hopes of progress to all other teams

Bucs lead clubs eager to take next step this season

As we speak, there are 29 baseball teams in Spring Training that are all talking about "taking the next step."

The only team that does not have to talk like this is the San Francisco Giants. The Giants could very easily discuss "taking the same step," the one that has led them to three World Series championships over five seasons.

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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.

Cole, Cervelli click early as Bucs fall to Blue Jays

Working with new batterymate, starter allows a run, strikes out three in two innings

Cole, Cervelli click early as Bucs fall to Blue Jays

BRADENTON, FLA. -- Dalton Pompey, Kevin Pillar and Dioner Navarro all had doubles as the Blue Jays came away with a 4-1 victory over the Pirates on Wednesday afternoon at McKechnie Field.

Pittsburgh's lone run came in the second inning, when Jordy Mercer scored on a wild pitch by left-hander Rob Rasmussen. Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman was charged with the unearned run, and Pirates right-handed starter Gerrit Cole allowed one run over his two innings with three strikeouts.

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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. Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates agree with 21 players on 2015 contracts

Pirates agree with 21 players on 2015 contracts

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Pirates on Wednesday announced contract agreements with 21 players, bringing their entire 40-man roster into the fold.

The development was purely procedural. All 21 players have fewer than four years of service, making them not yet eligible for salary arbitration.

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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.

Home run highlights Kang's successful debut

New shortstop connects on solo shot, plays solid defense in Bucs' victory

Home run highlights Kang's successful debut

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Jung Ho Kang did not wait long to flash his power -- or his first "Z."

The sensation from Korea slugged his first home run in a Pirates uniform in his second at-bat of Tuesday's 8-7 win over the Blue Jays in the Grapefruit League opener, and it was impressive.

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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.

Walker: Alvarez 'what you want in a teammate'

Though slugger not generally vocal, friend is happy to sing his praises

Walker: Alvarez 'what you want in a teammate'

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Pedro Alvarez has all kinds of power. He can crush a baseball, as he did Tuesday on his first swing in the first inning of the first game of the spring, sending an Aaron Sanchez offering over the left-field fence to give the Pirates a 3-0 jump toward an 8-7 exhibition win over Toronto.

Alvarez can also crush media folk hoping for an incisive comment or an insightful interview. That has never been his bag. So he can also powerfully polarize, because outsiders get a view of him startlingly different than how he is regarded in the clubhouse, where the Bucs to a man embrace him as a wonderful teammate and an inspiration.

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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.

Kang's first homer paces Bucs in spring opener

New shortstop, Alvarez go deep in victory over Blue Jays

Kang's first homer paces Bucs in spring opener

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- After Pedro Alvarez got the Pirates off to a fast start with a home run off Blue Jays right-hander Aaron Sanchez, new shortstop Jung Ho Kang connected on his first homer in Pittsburgh's 8-7 win on Tuesday.

Alvarez's shot to left came with a pair of runners on in the first inning. Right fielder Gregory Polanco started the rally with a two-out single, and Starling Marte then reached base on a fielding error by Josh Donaldson.

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Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cumpton shut down with right elbow pain

Versatile pitcher to see Dr. Andrews, calls measure 'a precaution'

Cumpton shut down with right elbow pain

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Brandon Cumpton, one of the starting pitchers expected to provide rotation depth for the Pirates during the 2015 season, has been shut down with pain in his right elbow.

Cumpton reported the discomfort after throwing live batting practice on Saturday. Following examination by club doctors, the decision was made to have Cumpton undergo an examination by noted sports orthopedist Dr. James Andrews.

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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.

Hart's foot recovering nicely from hot tub misfortune

Hart's foot recovering nicely from hot tub misfortune

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Corey Hart moved about McKechnie Field's clubhouse evenly Tuesday morning, displaying no outward sign of the freak accident that will keep him sidelined until the weekend.

Hart wore regular athletic socks and shoes on his feet, including the left one, the side of which had three stitches to close the cut he had suffered Sunday upon entering a whirlpool in the training area of Pirate City.

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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.

Miss home runs? Pedro Alvarez has a gift for you

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Miss home runs? Pedro Alvarez has a gift for you

On Sept. 28, 2014, during their final game of the regular season, Neil Walker hit the final home run of the Pirates' 2014 season. What followed were 156 cold and homerless days for the Pirates. But that all ended Tuesday afternoon, when Pedro Alvarez used his first at-bat in the Grapefruit League to deliver a 3-run shot against the Blue Jays.

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Tabata's new swing is turning heads in Pirate City

Tabata's new swing is turning heads in Pirate City

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Jose Tabata has been that Pirates house guest who wouldn't leave. Could he yet become a guest of honor?

During a week of full-squad workouts at Pirate City, the Bucs kept score of a daily drill on situational hitting. It was deemed the "Competition Game," and Tabata nailed it. Another competition, one for a spot on the Bucs' bench, may by now be out of Tabata's reach, but he's making it hard on club decision-makers.

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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.

Kang's shortstop debut in intrasquad tilt draws big cheers

Korean infielder plays three innings before Grapefruit opener Tuesday

Kang's shortstop debut in intrasquad tilt draws big cheers

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The public unveiling of Jung Ho Kang was a popular hit. It was the only hit for Kang on Monday, as he played the first three innings of his Black team's 2-1 victory over the Gold team in an annual intrasquad game, but he nonetheless considered it a success.

Kang grounded out to short off Deolis Guerra in his only at-bat of the scrimmage, minutes after cleanly fielding a grounder off Justin Sellers' bat with one out in the top of the first.

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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 set pitching plans for early set of games

Pirates set pitching plans for early set of games

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Bucs completed the first phase of their Spring Training on Sunday, pulling up Pirate City stakes. Work done, immediate pitching plans set.

Next stop, McKechnie Field and one more pit stop before the onset of play: Monday's Black and Gold intrasquad game, which precedes Tuesday's Grapefruit League opener against Russell Martin's Blue Jays in Dunedin.

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Glasnow impressing Bucs with his work in camp

Glasnow impressing Bucs with his work in camp

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Pirates brought Tyler Glasnow to big league camp to show him something about a Major League environment. Instead, the 21-year-old right-hander has been showing them something.

"Impressive stuff. The ball comes out of his hand as hard as anybody out there," said veteran catcher Chris Stewart, who has caught Glasnow's bullpens and has also faced the 6-foot-8 righty in batting practice. "Not a fun at-bat. He gets on top of it and drives down, and the ball is coming down on an angle and moving, cutting away."

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Bucs' contingent visits Miracle League Fantasy Camp

Bucs' contingent visits Miracle League Fantasy Camp

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Club president Frank Coonelly led a Pirates contingent including several players at a Saturday afternoon Miracle League Fantasy Camp for special-needs children at Manasota Field.

Co-presented with the Baltimore Orioles, their Sarasota-based Spring Training neighbors, Pirates Charities sponsored the event in partnership with Baseball Fantasy Camp for Kids.

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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 welcomed back to Bradenton with pep rally

Pirates welcomed back to Bradenton with pep rally

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The city of Bradenton rolled out the black and gold carpet for the Bucs on Saturday night, formally welcoming them to their 46th Spring Training here with the sixth annual Pirates Pep Rally.

A three-block strip of Old Downtown was blocked off from traffic and turned over to various attractions celebrating the dawn of another baseball season, which locally begins next Wednesday with the Pirates' first Grapefruit League home game in McKechnie Field.

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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' investment in McCutchen paying off

Outfielder is midway through $51.5 million, six-year contract

Bucs' investment in McCutchen paying off

BRADENTON, Fla. -- In the conclusion of its countdown to the Major League's Top 100 current players, the MLB Network anointed Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen the sixth best player in today's game.

As a sidebar, that placement offers a fascinating glimpse at the club's shrewd move to sign McCutchen to a six-year contract in 2012 -- as well as at the challenges it will confront to hold onto its franchise player beyond the contract's option year.

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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 expected to let it loose in final ride

Burnett expected to let it loose in final ride

BRADENTON, Fla. -- A year ago, A.J. Burnett walked out of Pittsburgh. Then he talked his way back in. The Steel City, he decided, is where he wanted to take the final spin of a what will be a 17-year career.

Are the Pirates being taken for a ride, or will they get a joyride for their $8.5 million ticket? Having Burnett back in their midst has already flipped the fun switch in camp; the 38-year-old is always louder, bubblier and more caustic than anybody else in the room. Those qualities figure to be even keener in this final roundup, so he'll do a lot to keep the team loose.

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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.

Richard working with Pirates to correct delivery

Lefty was in 'protection mode' while throwing due to past shoulder injuries

Richard working with Pirates to correct delivery

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Clayton Richard did his research when the Pirates invited him to Spring Training. He liked the direction the team was headed. He talked to former Pirates pitcher Edinson Volquez, his teammate in San Diego, and heard nothing but good things about the coaching staff and the clubhouse atmosphere.

More than anything, Richard was intrigued by the Pirates' recent success with pitchers who had been injured or ineffective. So far, his experience working with pitching coach Ray Searage and special assistant Jim Benedict has validated the high praise.

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

Tabata alters swing to get lift on the baseball

Pirates outfielder discussed changing hitting approach with former teammate Byrd

Tabata alters swing to get lift on the baseball

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Jose Tabata put on a show during batting practice at Pirate City on Friday, the shouts and cheers of his teammates heard among the loud bangs of several home run-distance shots crashing into the roof over the batting cages and clubhouse beyond the high left-field fence.

As it turns out, Tabata spoke with a former teammate to tweak his swing this offseason -- and not just so he could put a few dents in the Pirate City roof, either.

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

Pirates map out pitching schedule for Spring Training

Pirates map out pitching schedule for Spring Training

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle announced the pitching schedule for the Black & Gold game on Monday. The intrasquad contest at McKechnie Field will be 5 1/2 innings, featuring 11 pitchers throwing one inning each.

Right-handers Nick Kingham, Josh Wall, Collin Balester, Adrian Sampson, Wilfredo Boscan and left-hander Charlie Leesman will pitch for the Black team. Right-handers Arquimedes Caminero, Deolis Guerra, Angel Sanchez, Blake Wood and lefty Jeremy Bleich will pitch for the Gold team.

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

McCutchen declares Pirates' outfield baseball's best

Former MVP states case for Pittsburgh trio over Kemp's group in San Diego

McCutchen declares Pirates' outfield baseball's best

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Three years ago, when Matt Kemp showed up for Spring Training with a National League Gold Glove in his bag, Andrew McCutchen had a message for his buddy.

"You've got it now, but I'm coming to get it," warned McCutchen, who sure enough ousted Kemp from the NL's Gold Glove outfield in 2012.

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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.

Cervelli makes strong early impression at camp

Veteran catcher excited for added responsibility of replacing Martin

Cervelli makes strong early impression at camp

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The 2015 Pirates could be a star-making vehicle -- again. Josh Harrison filled the bill last season. Jung Ho Kang now has the above title-billing. But Francisco Cervelli is another breakthrough candidate, and his emergence would be more impactful, because it is more challenging and more critical.

Kang is the fifth wheel in the Bucs' current infield. Cervelli has to cover for the Bucs' biggest loss, catcher Russell Martin, who had a hand in all of the team's pies. The gregarious Venezuelan appears to have the personality to also be a clubhouse leader, and he definitely has the desire to want to be a pitching staff caretaker.

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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 work on improving all-around baserunning

Hurdle wants team to focus on taking extra bases on balls in the dirt

Pirates work on improving all-around baserunning

BRADENTON, Fla. -- A significant portion of the Pirates' Thursday workouts was devoted to the dirt-ball drill. It had nothing to do with the school attended by Jared Hughes and Vance Worley, Long Beach State, whose baseball teams are affectionately nicknamed the Dirtbags. It had everything to do with Free 90s -- extra bases through hustle.

Manager Clint Hurdle is prioritizing improved all-around baserunning by the 2015 Bucs, and sees the greatest room for improvement in how they react to errant pitches. Hence the drill: Getting a jump at the first indication the pitch will be a worm-killer.

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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.

Nutting: Expectations for Bucs higher in 2015

Club chairman says organization is gaining increasing respect throughout baseball

Nutting: Expectations for Bucs higher in 2015

BRADENTON, Fla. -- In making his annual Spring Training address, it has always been Pirates club chairman Bob Nutting's intent and duty to look at the roomful of players through rose-colored glasses, to pump them up enthusiastically for the coming season. To talk a good game, as it were.

How nice it must be now to not have to fake it.

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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.