PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates have released their 2012 promotional schedule, which is highlighted by two SkyBlast dates, two "FAN JAM" postgame concerts and a Joel Hanrahan bobblehead giveaway.
The two SkyBlast dates are scheduled for Aug. 11 and Sept. 29. The band Lifehouse will perform on the latter date, following a home game against the Reds. The Pirates have not yet announced who will take the stage after the August game.
Daughtry (July 7) and another soon-to-be-announced artist (June 9) will be on stage for the pair of "FAN JAM" postgame concerts. Five Zambelli fireworks nights have also been scheduled.
The Hanrahan bobblehead giveaway will be on May 12 and is the only bobblehead on next year's promotional schedule. The "Free-Shirt Fridays" promotion will be returning, and special giveaways have been designated for Mother's Day and Memorial Day weekend.
The full promotional schedule can be found at pirates.com.
Pirates announce home game start times
PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates have filled in game times for next season's 81 home games, and have included five 4:05 p.m. ET start times in the 2012 slate.
Three of those 4:05 p.m. start times will be on Thursdays (Aug. 9, Aug. 16, Sept. 20), while the other two are Saturdays (June 23, July 7). On those two dates, the Pirates had to start before 4:10 p.m. for the games to be broadcast on local television. FOX's exclusive TV window those weeks begins at 4:10 p.m. and continues until 7:05 p.m.
The Pirates will also have two Saturday games (May 26 and June 9) at 7:15 p.m., 10 minutes later than the club's normal evening start time. The reason for the difference is because those two games are scheduled to be one of the games that FOX televises nationally.
As is the norm, the Pirates' home opener -- which will also be the team's season opener -- is set for a 1:35 p.m. start. That April 5 game will be against the Phillies. The Pirates will also play home games at 1:35 p.m. on Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day.
Hurdle receives Manager of Year votes
PITTSBURGH -- Clint Hurdle was one of nine National League managers to receive at least one vote for the Manager of the Year award, which was given to Arizona's Kirk Gibson on Wednesday.
Hurdle received two third-place votes from members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, placing Hurdle in a sixth-place tie with Giants skipper Bruce Bochy. Gibson received 28 of the 32 first-place votes, with Ron Roenicke (Brewers) and Tony La Russa (Cardinals) receiving the others.
Roenicke and La Russa finished second and third in the voting, which takes place before the postseason.
Hurdle led the Pirates to a 72-90 record in his first year as Pittsburgh's manager. The 72 wins represented a 15-win improvement over 2010. Hurdle finished third in the voting in 2007, when he led the Rockies to the World Series.
Marte named Topps Double-A All-Star
PITTSBURGH -- Outfielder Starling Marte was named to the Topps Double-A All-Star Team on Wednesday, following a season in which he led the Eastern League with a .332 batting average. Marte was one of 10 Double-A players who earned the postseason honor.
Marte, who is nursing a groin injury while playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic, was ranked by MLB.com as the organization's fifth-best prospect entering 2011. In his first test against Double-A competition, the 23-year-old outfielder thrived.
He scored 91 runs, tallied 58 extra-base hits, drove home 50 and stole 24 bases with Altoona. Marte is expected to begin the 2012 season as Triple-A Indianapolis' center fielder.
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.