BRADENTON, Fla. -- As the Pirates' staff conducted the first official pitchers and catchers workout of Spring Training, only two players -- righty Kevin Hart and left-hander Donnie Veal -- remain limited in their initial spring workload.
Both Hart and Veal are on track in their recoveries from arm surgery. Neither, however, has been cleared to throw just yet.
The club had held out hope that Hart could be ready by Opening Day. That appears unlikely now, though the Bucs are not yet entirely ruling out the possibility.
Hart was recently reexamined by Dr. James Andrews, who performed the May 4 surgery that repaired a torn labrum in Hart's right shoulder, and gave the righty the green light to continue his rehab work. Hart is not ahead of schedule, but he is on track with a normal recovery.
"The window of opportunity was he had a very good chance to be ready by the end of Spring Training," general manager Neal Huntington said. "We're still in that window. Dr. Andrews wasn't concerned with where he was progression-wise."
When Veal underwent Tommy John surgery last June, he knew he was looking as a 12-18 month recovery period. The lefty has been progressing through his rehab program well, but he won't be spending much time on the field during camp. The Bucs' hope is that Veal will be ready to return sometime in May or June.
"The rehab is going great," Huntington said. "He feels great. The throwing program has gone very well for him. It would be very easy to speed it up, but he needs time to heal."
Club to announce closer before spring games
BRADENTON, Fla. -- All indications on Monday are that the Pirates are close to announcing who will serve as the team's closer to begin the 2011 season.
Both general manager Neal Huntington and manager Clint Hurdle noted that they have recently had in-depth discussions about whether Joel Hanrahan or Evan Meek is better suited for the role. While neither Huntington nor Hurdle would say that a final decision has been made, both maintain that there will be no Spring Training competition between the two potential closers.
Hanrahan and Meek are expected to know the team's decision before Grapefruit League play begins on Feb. 26.
"We've got to sit down with the people involved and let them know," Huntington said. "As soon as we do, we'll let you guys know."
Hurdle also suggested that the Pirates are not considering a scenario in which both Meek and Hanrahan get save opportunities.
"We've got two very good choices and candidates," Hurdle said. "They've both been very efficient in different ways. I'm not a big fan of a co-closer situation. When we make that commitment to one man, it's not going to be a daily reading. We're going to give him the ball, give him the opportunity."
Hanrahan and Meek each pitched in a handful of save situations after the Bucs traded Octavio Dotel at the Trade Deadline last season. Hanrahan also has previous experience pitching as a closer. He saved 14 games for the Nationals in 2008 and '09.
Hurdle pleased with players' effort on Day 1
BRADENTON, Fla. -- After weeks of talking about getting to work, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle finally did so -- in tangible fashion, at least -- on the grounds of Pirate City on Monday.
The Bucs held their first Spring Training workout of 2011, with 40 pitchers and catchers participating in on-field drills and exercises.
So what was the manager's assessment after Day 1?
"I think the intensity is where it needed to be," Hurdle said. "The volume of work is what we were looking for and the focus was good. I've had this day circled for a long time. It's good to get our hands on guys and have them start moving around."
These first few days of camp are designed to get pitchers throwing off the mound as the process of building up arm strength continues. Pitchers also spent time engaged in fielding drills, bunting and conditioning work.
By the end of Monday's workout, 14 of the team's 21 position players (not including the catchers) had already reported to Bradenton, even though the first mandatory full-squad workout sits five days away. This group took turns taking batting practice and also worked out in the field.
"We were getting rumblings that a bunch of them were going to show up [early] and they did," Hurdle said. "It is what it is. It's nice to see those guys out there. I think it's another sign of them taking accountability and responsibility for what's in front of us."
Players sport gold, not black BP jerseys
BRADENTON, Fla. -- There was a new look to the Pirates' players who took the fields at Pirate City on Monday afternoon. And it was a hard one to miss.
The club introduced gold batting practice jerseys, replacing the black ones that players had worn for the past three years. These new jerseys feature a black Pirates "P" on the left chest and the Jolly Roger logo on the left sleeve.
The jerseys, which were made to increase breathability, durability and comfort, were produced by Majestic Athletic. Numerous players commented on how bright the gold color appeared, especially when all the tops were lined up inside the clubhouse.
Even general manager Neal Huntington laughed when the subject of new uniforms was raised.
"That's a bright sun," he quipped, "and that's a bright field right now."
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Jose Ascanio was the only one of the 41 pitchers and catchers who did not report to camp on time for Monday's first workout. Ascanio was held up in Venezuela due to visa issues. If the right-hander receives his visa on Monday, as anticipated, he will arrive in Bradenton on Tuesday. ... Fifteen different pitchers took the mound on Monday to throw side sessions. Among those were Paul Maholm, Ross Ohlendorf, James McDonald, Hanrahan and Meek. ... Major League Baseball and the Pirates announced that they are now taking applications for the 2011 Honorary Bat Girl Contest. One Pirates fan, 18 or older, will be selected to represent the team on the field at PNC Park on May 8. Entries can be submitted from now until April 14 at www.honorarybatgirl.com. More details on the contest can also be found there.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.