Minicamp getting Bucs ready for spring

Minicamp getting Bucs ready for spring

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates opened their third January minicamp under manager John Russell on Wednesday, with 39 players present for the first workout of the four-day voluntary session. The players took the field around 10 a.m. ET and remained outside for just over two hours.

The minicamp, which is held at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla., is designed primarily for pitchers, who are beginning to build up arm strength in preparation for Spring Training. While pitching coach Joe Kerrigan will monitor each mound session this week, he is also using the time to personalize a plan for each of his pitchers to follow before Spring Training begins.

Of the 18 pitchers on the Pirates' 40-man roster, all but right-hander Jose Ascanio were present on Wednesday. Ascanio was stuck in Venezuela due to visa issues, though there is still the chance that he'll be able to join the group before the camp concludes. Even so, Ascanio is recovering from right shoulder surgery and has not been cleared to throw.

Another nine non-roster pitchers -- Jeff Karstens, Vinnie Chulk, Virgil Vasquez, Jeremy Powell, Jack Taschner, Justin Thomas, Brian Burres, Craig Hansen and Neal Cotts -- are participating. Hansen and Cotts, both of whom are recovering from injuries, will not join the others on the mound.

After taking part in on-field workouts on Wednesday, the pitchers spent the afternoon in video sessions with Kerrigan and other members of the coaching staff.

Right-handers Brad Lincoln and Daniel McCutchen were among the pitchers working out on Wednesday, though both have now left Bradenton to attend the Rookie Career Development Program, which begins in Virginia on Thursday. Lincoln and McCutchen threw on Monday and Wednesday to compensate for their early departures.

In addition to the influx of pitchers at Pirate City, 13 position players were in attendance on Wednesday. Three of those were catchers -- Ryan Doumit, Erik Kratz and Jason Jaramillo -- who are present largely to work with the pitching staff.

Other position players spent the first day taking batting practice and going through defensive drills. Among the position players present was center fielder Andrew McCutchen, who was not initially on the camp roster. Outfielder Jose Tabata was missing, however, as he had visa troubles in his native country of Venezuela.

Approximately 45 Pirates staff members are in Bradenton this week to work with all the players in town. Pirate City is also hosting a strength-and-conditioning camp for about 20 Minor League players this week.

Following Thursday's minicamp session, a number of players will be participating in a community bowling event.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.