CHICAGO -- Jameson Taillon, the organization's top prospect, will begin the season in extended Spring Training rather than with Class A West Virginia, as had previously been discussed.
The decision to keep Taillon in Florida a while longer has nothing to do with concerns about the right-hander's ability to compete at the low-A level. Rather, the Pirates are limited in the number of innings Taillon will be able to pitch this year and would prefer that he not hit that innings threshold before the season ends.
"We're going to keep him in a controlled environment and slowly stretch him out," general manager Neal Huntington said. "That way he can hopefully still be able to pitch at the end of the West Virginia season and have some innings left in him for instructional league. It's all about the innings."
Taillon lost two months of mound time last summer while negotiating his signing bonus after he was taken as the No. 2 overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft. As a result, Taillon threw significantly fewer innings in 2010 than he had in 2009. That 2010 workload directly affects how many innings Taillon can log this season.
The Pirates' decision to be conservative with Taillon also allows the right-hander to make up for the little bit of time he lost earlier in camp when he took a ball off his foot.
The Pirates have already internally mapped out when they plan to promote Taillon to West Virginia, though Huntington did not divulge that timeframe. Once he gets to West Virginia, Taillon is expected to pitch every fifth day in the Power's rotation.
Right-hander Stetson Allie, the Pirates' second-round Draft pick last year, will also remain in extended Spring Training to start the year. The Pirates will have to monitor Allie's workload in much the same way that they will Taillon's.
Hanrahan settles in after notching first save
CHICAGO -- Joel Hanrahan joked that life can get back to normal now after he successfully converted on his first save opportunity as the team's newly minted closer. Hanrahan worked around a walk and infield hit while throwing a scoreless inning in the Pirates' 6-3 win over the Cubs on Friday.
"Once you get the first one out of the way, you get back to your normal life," said Hanrahan, who was named the club's closer during the first week of Spring Training. "I was telling someone the other day that I can't wait for the season to start so I can get back to normal life. When you get the first one out of the way, you go out the next time and feel a lot more comfortable. You just play the game again."
Hanrahan's outing on Friday was almost entirely a one-pitch effort. Of the 19 pitches the right-hander needed to get through the inning, 18 were fastballs. All hit with velocity in the upper-90s, too, which prompted Hanrahan to sneak a peek at the radar gun once -- and it read 99 mph when he did.
Hanrahan went to his slider just once but said he felt his foot slip about 8-10 inches on a slick mound when he did. The pitch was out of the zone, and Hanrahan felt no need to try again given how much trouble the Cubs' hitters were having with the fastball.
"I just stuck with the fastball," Hanrahan said. "I didn't really feel the need to go to [the slider]."
Defense a work in progress for Alvarez
CHICAGO -- Lyle Overbay's presence at first immediately improved the Pirates' infield defense, an area that was not one of the club's strong suits a year ago. A pair of missed popups and some other shaky defensive plays on Friday, however, highlighted that there is still work to be done.
Asked about the two dropped popups, manager Clint Hurdle put the onus of those plays on third baseman Pedro Alvarez. Due to an infield shift, Alvarez was the only player on the left side of the infield for the first popup, which dropped near him. The second popup fell out on the grass between home plate and the mound.
"Those were Pedro's balls," Hurdle said. "They are going to become [Ronny] Cedeno's balls if Pedro can't take ownership of them. Any time the catcher has to leave the dirt and go 20 feet out in the grass, he does not need to be making that play. We've talked about it. I know Pedro is aware of it, and I look forward to him making the proper adjustments."
Hurdle wasn't nearly as concerned about the throwing error charged to Alvarez on Friday. The throw sailed over the head of Overbay, who likely could have nabbed the ball if he hadn't been intent on keeping his foot on the base.
"Lyle will tell you Lyle should have caught that ball," Hurdle said.
Catcher Jason Jaramillo will make his season debut on Sunday, manager Clint Hurdle said. Ryan Doumit started the team's first two games behind the plate. ... Hurdle gave second baseman Neil Walker the umpires' lineup card from Friday's game, which was highlighted by the second baseman's fifth-inning grand slam. Walker entered Saturday 17-for-36 with six doubles, four homers and 11 RBIs in his first 10 career games against the Cubs. ... Left-hander Joe Beimel threw live batting practice in Bradenton, Fla., on Saturday. Beimel is working his way back from a pair of arm setbacks from the spring. Once he gets in enough innings, he is expected to be added to the team's roster. ... Catcher Chris Snyder (lower back soreness) caught Beimel's bullpen session without issue. ... Right-hander James McDonald remains on schedule to start Tuesday's game in St. Louis after successfully throwing a bullpen session at Wrigley Field prior to Saturday's game. ... The Pirates announced that they have sold out all the $1 tickets for Buc Night, which will be held at PNC Park next Friday. Regularly priced tickets remain for the 7:05 p.m. ET contest against the Rockies, and all fans in attendance will have $1 hot dogs and popcorn available for purchase.
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.