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02/17/2013 5:26 PM ET

Newcomer Martin offers high praise for pitching staff

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Russell Martin's first impression of Pirates pitchers was a jaw-dropper.

"This is the first time I've seen so many live arms in one camp, and I've been to nine of them," the Bucs' new catcher said following a blustery workout at Pirate City.

This was quite a commentary coming from someone who spent the first phase of his career with the traditionally pitching-rich Dodgers and the last two years with the Yankees' best-money-can-buy staff.

But Martin, in a crash course to familiarize himself with his inherited staff, has had his head turned.

"Everyone's got really live arms," he said. "This is good stuff. It's impressive. I'm impressed. I don't think guys on the team even realize what they have right now."

Lefty Sanchez impresses Bucs during BP session

BRADENTON, Fla. -- It would be incorrect to say all other activity at Pirate City stopped when Jonathan Sanchez took the mound. But all eyes did turn to Field 1, which became the camp's focal point on Sunday for Sanchez's two-inning turn in batting practice.

Front-office types, personnel mavens and coaches congregated behind the batting cage to get a look at and evaluate the veteran, yet non-roster, left-hander's stuff.

Sanchez showed them plenty.

"He had a good day," said one of the interested observers, manager Clint Hurdle. "He threw free and easy, very good velocity, and threw some good breaking balls. We saw what we were hoping to see. He had some very nice sequences, for his first time on the mound. Now we hope to see the consistency that he'll need."

The initial interest in Sanchez is understandable: He could be a terrific find for the Pirates at a Major League salary of $1,375,000 if he makes the club. But his clock is already ticking, since he will be able to request his release on March 24 if not yet on the big-league roster.

Draft pick Gaffney considering return to baseball

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Tyler Gaffney, the Pirates' 24th-round Draft choice last June who has decided to return to Stanford for his final season of football eligibility, will consider resuming his baseball career following graduation, according to Larry Broadway, the club's director of Minor League operations.

"We have spoken with Tyler and he has decided to put his professional baseball career on hold in order to complete his undergraduate degree at Stanford and play his senior year with the football team," Broadway said. "He had nothing but positive things to say about the organization and would like to keep open the possibility of returning to the Pirates once he has completed his education and football career.

"We respect his decision, which was ultimately a difficult one for him to make, and wish him nothing but success and good health until he returns."

Gaffney, an outfielder, made a solid pro debut at State College last summer, batting .297 with an OPS of .924 in in 111 at-bats.

Worth noting

• For the first time in more than a quarter-century, there could be some confusion if someone on one of Pirate City's fields calls out, "Maz!"

Bill Mazeroski, the Bucs' Hall of Fame second baseman, is of course here. But so is Vin Mazzero, the right-hander. The only other "Maz" in Pirates history? Lee Mazzilli, the 1983-86 outfielder.

• James McDonald has been having a good time reconnecting with a couple of new Pirates with whom he had come through the Dodgers farm system -- infielder Ivan De Jesus and catcher Lucas May.

Last word
"His cumulative experience can be valuable. And you can tell after just a couple of days in camp that he is a positive influence. But ... you've still got to be able to play." -- Pirates GM Neal Huntington, on veteran Brandon Inge, signed to provide help in the clubhouse and off the bench.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.