CIN@PIT: Wandy goes seven strong, fans five Reds

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Two bullpen sessions, two forward steps.

The Wandy Rodriguez Watch continued Monday in Pirate City, as the recovering left-hander stretched out his side work, problem-free.

"I feel good," said Rodriguez, who was secure enough in how his forearm felt to gradually press the accelerator on his fastball. "I said I would slowly increase how hard I throw, and I threw a little bit harder at the end."

Rodriguez's 38th pitch sounded off -- twice. It popped loudly into catcher Carlos Paulino's mitt, and as the two met between the mound and the plate to shake hands, the fans 10-deep on the other side of the bullpen fence gave Rodriguez a loud, spontaneous hand.

"That was nice," Rodriguez said of the reaction, with a wide grin.

"It was a good day," manager Clint Hurdle proclaimed. "He was able to throw all his pitches and get right through it. I thought he looked good."

After MVP year, McCutchen ready to get back to work

McCutchen looking to improve upon MVP season

BRADENTON, Fla. -- On Monday's reporting day for position players, National League Most Valuable Player Andrew McCutchen led the early arrivals into camp -- which included everyone but Josh Harrison, proud new father of baby Mia.

Whereas being a new daddy prompted Harrison to want to stretch his offseason as much as possible -- he was expected to check in by nightfall, then join Tuesday's first full-squad workout -- McCutchen couldn't wait to get here.

He had two good reasons for that: Finding some relative quiet after his tumultuous offseason, and every day bringing him closer the end of his bachelorhood.

"There were way more distractions this year than last," said McCutchen, obviously even more in demand after his personal and the team's success. "It was fun, and it was quick. I accepted that the offseason would go quicker but, hey, the quicker the offseason, the quicker the season starts -- and the quicker I get married."

Most of the world saw McCutchen propose to Maria on the Dec. 11 "Ellen." Those who did not have since caught up on Youtube. The incident raised McCutchen's celebrity to a different level -- as he expected.

"I kinda assumed that's what would happen," McCutchen said. "I got the MVP, and I knew after the proposal people would just forget about the MVP, that that's what I'd be all about. And that's the way it should be. Everybody loves 'Ellen,' so I knew I'd get attention with that."

Grilli taking his time early on in spring camp

Outlook: Grilli capable of 30+ saves in closer role

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Jason Grilli, who skipped his scheduled bullpen session on Saturday and has stayed off the mound since, is getting a kick out of the curiosity sparked by his "inactivity."

"You want to make sure I'm all right?" the Pirates closer said with a wide grin.

The right-hander eventually did get a little testy when questions continued why he had gone four days without pitching, after his first regular turn on Thursday.

Grilli reaffirmed he's just "taking his time."

The interest in Grilli's throwing schedule is understandable, considering he had missed two months of last season's second half with a forearm strain. But Grilli lightly shrugs off any concern, pointing out "last spring I pitched one inning in the World Baseball Classic, and when the bell rang I was ready to go."

Grilli had gone two weeks between Grapefruit League appearances for the Bucs, and in that span was used for one inning by Team Italy in the WBC. Overall, he logged only six innings in exhibition play, then came out of the gate converting his first 25 save opportunities.

Worth noting

• Did the Bucs change the name of their Spring Training complex from Pirate City? No -- the "Camp Orientation" notation on Tuesday's agenda referred to welcoming speeches to the full squad due to be delivered by GM Neal Huntington and Hurdle.

Travis Snider reported happy -- his beloved Seahawks are Super Bowl champs -- and lean. Hurdle had sent him off into the offseason asking him to get in better shape, and the right-field candidate followed through impressively. Snider also reported surgery has taken care of the big left toe discomfort that has plagued him most of last season.

First number, last word

58: Total number of players in the Pirates camp, including 18 non-roster invitees.

"Time to put that team mentality together. Work on bunt defense, outfield throwing, infield, live batting practice. We're all looking forward to it." -- Hurdle, anticipating Tuesday's first full-squad workout, after five days tailored to pitchers and catchers.