Bucs sign Liz looking for another makeover success

Former top prospect with Orioles rebooted career while pitching in Korea

Bucs sign Liz looking for another makeover success

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 agreed to a two-year Major League contract for a reported $3 million. The Bucs have not confirmed the signing.

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.

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Taillon, four others added to Bucs' 40-man roster

Davis, Cabrera designated for assignment; Florimon claimed from Nats

Taillon, four others added to Bucs' 40-man roster

A busy day of roster shuffling for the Pirates on Thursday ended with veteran first baseman Ike Davis being designated for assignment, one of the moves needed to clear enough roster space for five Minor Leaguers added to protect them from next month's Rule 5 Draft.

Added to the 40-man roster were right-handers Jameson Taillon and Nick Kingham, catcher Elias Diaz, outfielder Willy Garcia and infielder Pedro Florimon, who had been claimed earlier in the day on waivers from Washington.

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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.

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MLB.com Columnist

Jim Callis

Glasnow, Bell, Seager rank among top prospects from AFL

Glasnow, Bell, Seager rank among top prospects from AFL

The 23rd edition of the Arizona Fall League wrapped up with Salt River's win in the championship game over Peoria on Saturday. Once again, the AFL was jam packed with elite-level prospects.

That made putting together a top prospects list fairly easy. There were so many good players, it was decided to expand the list to a top 25, up from the typical 20. The list was compiled by Jim Callis, Jonathan Mayo and Teddy Cahill, along with feedback from a number of scouts who covered the league this fall. This list is more about long-term potential, but AFL performances were certainly taken into account.

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Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com and writes a blog, Callis' Corner. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com and writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMayoB3 on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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MLB.com Columnist

Meggie Zahneis

Melancon finds off-the-field calling a world away

Pirates closer ran baseball clinic in South Africa as part of MLB ambassadorship

Melancon finds off-the-field calling a world away

Pirates closer Mark Melancon knows how to put the past in the past.

Sure, Melancon might be a bit disappointed by the Pirates' early exit this past postseason, but just two weeks after the final pitch of the World Series, he's back in the saddle, suiting up in Japan for MLB's All-Star exhibition in four Japanese cities over the span of a week.

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Meggie Zahneis, winner of the 2011 Breaking Barriers essay contest, earned the job of youth correspondent for MLB.com in the fall of '11. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Melancon serenades woman in Japan with Top Gun song

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Melancon serenades woman in Japan with Top Gun song

Pirates closer Mark Melancon is a lot of things. He's a pitcher, an All-Star, a husband, a father and an Arizon Wildcat. He is not a professional singer.

He could very well be a righteous brother, but he is not a Righteous Brother. He is not Hall, nor is he Oates. He's just a pitcher with aviator sunglasses, but apparently that gives him full license to serenade random Japanese women with the iconic love ballad from Top Gun.

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Hurdle, Harrison honored by MLBPAA

Hurdle, Harrison honored by MLBPAA

NEW YORK -- Hall of Fame third basemen Brooks Robinson and Wade Boggs received Lifetime Achievement Awards, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was given the Brooks Robinson Community Service Award and Pirates All-Star Josh Harrison was named overall recipient of the Heart and Hustle Award at the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association's (MLBPAA) 15th annual Legends for Youth Dinner on Tuesday night at Capitale in Manhattan.

The Legends for Youth Dinner recognizes players for their accomplishments on the diamond coupled with their contributions in the community. Proceeds from the fundraiser go to the Legends for Youth Baseball Clinics, a series of free clinics designed to provide children with positive role models, teaching fundamentals and promoting the sport.

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Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Tour Sapporo Dome with Pirates' Mark Melancon

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Tour Sapporo Dome with Pirates' Mark Melancon

At the Sapporo Dome, you can watch baseball like you're a god gazing down upon mortals who play only for your personal amusement. All you have to do is take an elevator three stories to an observation deck, where you can see the field on one end and the city of Sapporo on the other. 

Afraid of heights? Don't worry, the Pirates' Mark Melancon has you covered.

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MLB.com Columnist

Mike Bauman

NL Central projects to be most dominant division in 2015

Cubs expected to re-emerge, making group of clubs toughest in Majors top to bottom

NL Central projects to be most dominant division in 2015

As we speak, the most balanced, deepest and quite possibly toughest division in baseball is the National League Central.

You can search for a truly weak link in this group, but the search will be in vain. With the emergence of the Cubs as a force to be reckoned with, the division no longer contains a soft spot, a rest area or the expectation of a walkover anywhere within its borders.

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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.

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Pirates bring back Lincoln on Minor League deal

Versatile pitcher was key cog in '12 before trade; Balester, Wood among those also invited to camp

Pirates bring back Lincoln on Minor League deal

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- One cannot rewrite history. But the Pirates, unable to bring back the joyride of the 2012 season, have at least brought back one of the unsung arms who had made it happen.

Brad Lincoln, the valuable swingman of the pitching staff that had the Bucs in serious contention in mid-2012, is returning to the organization on a Minor League deal. The 29-year-old right-hander is a Minor League free agent after having spent most of 2014 with the Phillies' Triple-A club.

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

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Bucs recognize gains in expected loss of Martin

Club shows foresight in acquiring Cervelli, rises in Draft selection after Blue Jays swoop in

Bucs recognize gains in expected loss of Martin

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Pirates' formal divorce from catcher Russell Martin came as anything but a surprise and was on grounds of irreconcilable differences.

Not just financial, although general manager Neal Huntington made by far the club's highest offer to a free agent and was still topped significantly by the Blue Jays. But also in terms of length -- given their track record with multiyear contracts, Huntington's Bucs are unlikely to go five years for any 30-something veteran.

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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.

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Burnett returns to Pirates on one-year contract

Right-hander gets $8.5 million deal for final season, says 'this is where I belong'

Burnett returns to Pirates on one-year contract

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- As A.J. Burnett took the PNC Park mound on July 6 in a Philadelphia Phillies uniform, he was saluted with a video board montage that ended with, "Thank you, A.J."

Wrong sign-off. It should have said, "Till we meet again."

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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.

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Patient Sanchez determined to be Bucs' No. 1 catcher

Backstop not fazed by Pirates' trade for Cervelli, says competition will help him

Patient Sanchez determined to be Bucs' No. 1 catcher

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Pirates' catching job has been a carrot dangled in front of Tony Sanchez ever since the club made him its No. 1 -- No. 4 overall -- pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.

For the third consecutive offseason, that carrot has been handed off to an escapee from New York.

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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.

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MLB.com Columnist

Jim Callis

Top performances, prospects from 2014 Fall League

A team-by-team breakdown of who impressed and how each club's top player fared

Top performances, prospects from 2014 Fall League

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Fall League is known as baseball's finishing school because it has graduated a ton of talent to the Major Leagues since it began play in 1992. The AFL has produced 212 All-Stars, including 35 in this year's Midsummer Classic, 25 Rookies of the Year, 13 MVPs and five Cy Young Award winners.

Based on the quality of the talent in the AFL this year, more big leaguers and stars are on the way. The league wrapped up its 23rd season on Saturday, with the Salt River Rafters outlasting the Peoria Javelinas, 14-7, for their fourth title and first since 2011.

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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. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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McCutchen finishes third in NL MVP Award vote

Outfielder comes up short in bid to become first Pirate to earn honor in back-to-back years

McCutchen finishes third in NL MVP Award vote

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Andrew McCutchen had hoped to make history on Thursday. Instead, he lost out to history, finishing third to Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw and Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton in balloting for the 2014 National League Most Valuable Player Award.

The same statistics and intangibles that had made the Pirates center fielder the 2013 NL MVP were not enough to overcome the historically exemplary season fashioned by Kershaw, the three-time Cy Young Award winner who garnered 18 of the 30 first-place votes from members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

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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.

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Cervelli acquisition caps busy week for Pirates

Huntington takes proactive approach at General Managers Meetings

Cervelli acquisition caps busy week for Pirates

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The General Managers Meetings are portrayed mostly as an opportunity for baseball executives to lay some groundwork for future transactions. Well, Pirates GM Neal Huntington did more: He hit the groundwork running this week, coming away from the Arizona Biltmore with two additions to what already has been a productive offseason.

The Bucs' headlining move was Wednesday's trade with the Yankees for catcher Francisco Cervelli. But the day before, Huntington had swung a deal with Colorado for righty reliever Rob Scahill. And even before getting the Bombers and the Rockies to say "Yes," the Bucs got a "No" on Monday from Russell Martin and Francisco Liriano to their qualifying offers -- which could make them a powerhouse in the 2015 First-Year Player Draft.

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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.

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Yankees trade Cervelli to Pirates for left-hander Wilson

Yankees trade Cervelli to Pirates for left-hander Wilson

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Moving swiftly to fill a potential vacancy behind the plate, the Pirates on Wednesday night acquired catcher Francisco Cervelli from the Yankees in exchange for left-hander Justin Wilson.

The move comes two days after free agent Russell Martin rejected the Bucs' qualifying offer of $15.3 million, seemingly cutting his ties with the team.

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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.

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Huntington cautions youth on Tommy John surgery

Pirates GM says many people mistakenly think procedure enhances performance

Huntington cautions youth on Tommy John surgery

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- At several stages of the 2014 season, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington interrupted gatherings with reporters to make an unsolicited plea.

"Please, please, please get the word out to kids and their parents and coaches that Tommy John surgery is not something to make you a better pitcher," Huntington would say with sincere emotion. "Surveys indicate an alarming percentage of people think of it as a good thing, and it is not.

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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.

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Hurdle finishes second in NL MOY Award voting

Pirates skipper receives eight first-place votes

Hurdle finishes second in NL MOY Award voting

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Clint Hurdle managed the 2014 Pirates back into the postseason, but not even that feat could lead to an even rarer feat -- consecutive National League Manager of the Year Awards.

Hurdle, the 2013 winner of the award, finished second to the Nationals' Matt Williams in voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Bruce Bochy of the Giants finished third.

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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.

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Huntington: Alvarez fits into Bucs' picture at first base

Huntington: Alvarez fits into Bucs' picture at first base

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- When Pirates general manager Neal Huntington gives a media briefing at a Major League conclave, it really is brief. Huntington is one of the game's most tight-lipped GMs, deferring to the process in declining to discuss his agendas in any detail.

Characteristically, thus, Huntington offered only generic comments regarding his offseason mission, which kicked into higher gear at the General Managers Meetings taking place here. Huntington, however, was far more candid when it came to discussing his displaced third baseman, Pedro Alvarez.

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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.

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Pirates acquire righty Scahill from Rockies

Pirates acquire righty Scahill from Rockies

The Pirates and Rockies swapped pitchers on Tuesday, with right-hander Rob Scahill going to Pittsburgh in exchange for Minor League right-hander Shane Carle.

Scahill was added to the Pirates' 40-man roster.

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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.

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Martin, Liriano turn down Bucs' qualifying offers

Pittsburgh will get compensation Draft picks if pair sign elsewhere

Martin, Liriano turn down Bucs' qualifying offers

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Catcher Russell Martin and left-handed starting pitcher Francisco Liriano on Monday both rejected qualifying offers from the Pirates, who are now positioned to be compensated if the free agents wind up signing with another team.

In declining the $15.3 million offers, the two aligned with the rest of the MLB free agents given the offer. All 12 turned it down this time around, bringing the rejection scorecard to 34-for-34 in the system's first three years.

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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.

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Pirates unveil Spring Training schedule

Pirates unveil Spring Training schedule

The Pirates released their Spring Training schedule Monday, announcing 15 home games scheduled at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.

Pittsburgh opens its Grapefruit League slate March 3 against the Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla., with the first home game coming at 1:05 p.m. ET the following day, also against the Blue Jays.

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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.

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McCutchen, Walker win Silver Slugger Award

McCutchen, Walker win Silver Slugger Award

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. -- Center fielder Andrew McCutchen earned his customary Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger Award on Thursday, and was joined by Pirates teammate Neil Walker in the lineup of the National League's top offensive performers by position.

McCutchen became the first Pittsburgh outfielder to earn three consecutive Silver Sluggers since Barry Bonds in 1990-92.

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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.

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Bucs' battery paves way in Fall League duel

Diaz scores game's lone run in eighth inning; Rodriguez lowers ERA to 0.95

Bucs' battery paves way in Fall League duel

Zero after zero was posted on the scoreboard at Scottsdale Stadium on Friday. Inning after inning, left-handers Wei-Chung Wang and Joely Rodriguez confounded hitters before turning the game over to the Glendale and Scottsdale bullpens to continue a rare Arizona Fall League pitchers' duel late into the game.

Finally, in the bottom of the eighth, Scottsdale broke though. Elias Diaz led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Tyler Austin followed with a ground ball that got into the outfield thanks to an error on second baseman Darnell Sweeney. Diaz raced around to score the game's only run -- an unearned one -- and the Scorpions held on for the 1-0 victory.

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

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Melancon on MLB roster for Japan All-Star Series

Games between MLB stars and national team begin Tuesday

Melancon on MLB roster for Japan All-Star Series

The postseason may be over, but there is still some exciting baseball to be played. A collection of the game's top talent will represent Major League Baseball next week when the Japan All-Star Series begins on Tuesday, and the roster for the MLB team was revealed on Friday.

Robinson Cano, Yasiel Puig, Evan Longoria and Jose Altuve headline a group of 29 players on the MLB All-Star team, which will be managed by Boston's John Farrell. The Major League squad will play a five-game series against Japan's national team, Samurai Japan.

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

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Bucs beef up bench options with Elmore claim

Versatile infielder has limited MLB experience, but has played every position, including pitcher

Bucs beef up bench options with Elmore claim

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. -- The Pirates claimed infielder Jake Elmore off waivers from Cincinnati on Friday, acquiring another versatile option for their bench.

Elmore, a 27-year-old with limited Major League experience, spent most of the 2014 season batting .281 in Triple-A between Sacramento and Louisville. The Reds had acquired him off waivers in early August from the A's.

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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.

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Huntington shares experience with Duquesne students

Huntington shares experience with Duquesne students

Even the best college courses can bog down a little bit deep into a semester, but the students enrolled in a class called Media and Sports at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh were all ears on Thursday afternoon when Neal Huntington served as their guest speaker.

During a 75-minute gathering, the general manager of the Pirates offered his thoughts on a variety of topics -- including dealing with the media, how he got into the business, and the overall state of the team -- and conducted a question-and-answer session.

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Jim Lachimia is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Martin earns Defensive Player of Year Award at backstop

Veteran led catchers in defensive runs saved; Bucs particularly pleased with help for sinkerballers

Martin earns Defensive Player of Year Award at backstop

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. -- Russell Martin received the 2014 Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award at catcher on Wednesday for his splendid play behind the plate for the Pirates.

Martin led all big league catchers with 12 defensive runs saved, thwarted 37 of 96 steal attempts (39 percent) and his pitch selection and framing was credited with a lot of the success enjoyed by the Bucs' staff, which led the National League Central with a collective 3.47 ERA.

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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.

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McCutchen, Hurdle finalists for BBWAA awards

McCutchen, Hurdle finalists for BBWAA awards

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Clint Hurdle and his lead star, center fielder Andrew McCutchen, are both finalists to defend the awards they earned last season from the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

McCutchen, the 2013 National League Most Valuable Player Award winner, is among the three contenders for the '14 award, along with Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw and Miami outfielder Giancarlo Stanton. The award itself will be presented next Thursday.

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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.

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