"I wanted to stay here," he said. "Everyone is so nice and they've helped me a lot. I'm one of the Pirates. I'm part of the team."The right-hander was rushing to back up third base on Monday when he became tangled up with home plate umpire Wally Bell, who was jogging to third as well. Kuwata stepped on Bell's foot and rolled his right ankle, laying facedown on the field for several moments before being carted off. His ankle, though not broken, is the most severe degree of a sprain. Not that it's dampened his spirit any. "First of all, I want my ankle to get healthy, and then I'll try to pitch on the sidelines," Kuwata said. "After, maybe Double- or Triple-A, and then, once I get my confidence, I want to try the Major Leagues." Duke pleased: Opening Day starter Zach Duke was satisfied with his final preseason tuneup on Wednesday, despite the fact that he received a no-decision after surrendering back-to-back home runs in the sixth. Duke threw three scoreless innings to allow the Pirates to hold a 1-0 lead but was tagged with an earned run in the fourth after scattering four straight singles. "I got the ball up just a little bit, and they hit some ground balls that got through. That stuff happens," he said. "I think it was good for me to limit the damage to one run right there. It builds my confidence for getting out of jams." The left-hander held the Reds off the board for another inning before Adam Dunn and Juan Encarnacion went deep to tie the game at three. Still, Duke was able to get out of the inning otherwise unscathed. Maybe more important than the actual stat line, Duke showed solid control over a number of pitches and went away satisfied from his last exhibition start. "I was able to throw my fastball to both sides, and I was able to get the changeup for strikes, and the breaking ball was good, so I feel pretty good with where I'm at heading into the season," he said. Up next: The Pirates return home on Thursday and will host the Phillies in a 1:05 p.m. ET contest. Right-hander Shawn Chacon will get the ball for Pittsburgh, while lefty J.A. Happ will work for Philadelphia. Pirates starter Ian Snell is scheduled to start a Minor League game at Pirate City for his final outing before the regular season begins.
Dawn Klemish is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.