2/23/2014 2:25 P.M. ET
Rotation set for first four Grapefruit League games
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle laid out his starting pitching for the club's first four games of the Grapefruit League schedule, beginning on Wednesday with the opener at McKechnie Field against the Yankees and through Saturday's home game against the Rays.
All of those four games are scheduled to start at 1:05 p.m. ET.
Francisco Liriano will start on Wednesday and throw one inning, followed by newcomer Edinson Volquez for an inning and as many as seven other pitchers behind him going an inning each, Hurdle said.
On Thursday, Charlie Morton will get the start in a rematch against the Yankees in Tampa, Fla., and pitch two innings followed by Jeff Locke and Brandon Cumpton for two innings each.
On Friday, it's Gerrit Cole to open for two innings against the Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla., and on Saturday Wandy Rodriguez is slated to start and get his two innings.
"That gives you something to push forward on," Hurdle said.
On Wednesday, Hurdle said he expects this group to follow Liriano and Volquez: Jeanmar Gomez, Vin Mazzaro, Bryan Morris, Jared Hughes, Duke Welker, Josh Kinney and Adam Wilk, if needed.
On Thursday, following Morton, Locke and Cumpton are Yao-Hsun Yang, Daniel Schlereth and possibly Cody Eppley for an inning each.
On the other two games, Hurdle said, "You'll get the bullpen guys later."
Bucs' Stewart ponders plate collision proposal
BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Major League Baseball Players Association was scheduled to meet with the Pirates after Sunday's workout at Pirate City, as the union makes its tour of the 30 spring camps. There's no doubt that a big part of the discussion will be the proposed rule trying to lessen the impact of collisions on plays at home plate.
Right now, there seems to be opposition among players about implementing the rule without further study. And Pirates starting catcher Russell Martin said he's "90 percent sure" the rule won't be adopted for this coming season.
Chris Stewart, who backed up Martin with the Yankees two seasons ago and signed this offseason to do the same with the Pirates, has his own views on the subject.
"In my opinion, that play has been around the game for so long, we just have to get rid of the malicious intent of some baserunners coming in to try and deliberately hit the catcher and try to knock the ball out instead of making a last-second decision that he has to go through the catcher because the catcher is in his way," said Stewart.
MLB agreed to move forward to establish the new rule late last year and has been studying the matter ever since. But the Commissioner's Office is working on the language of the proposal. With exhibition games set to begin this week across Florida and Arizona, players are evidently still studying that proposed language.
The union for the players must approve any rule change for it to be adopted, and although the umpires are being consulted, their approval is not necessary, said Tony Clark, the new executive director of the MLBPA who happened to be in Pirates camp for a meeting with the team on Sunday as he tours all the spring camps.
"The good thing is we've been able to communicate in some form or fashion with every catcher that wears gear," Clark said. "We have a lot of guys who have not caught who are runners also involved in this discussion. And it's been a very challenging rule to try to navigate.
"We started in conversations with Major League Baseball late last year, and where we are now is in different places. I think the fundamental premise is the same, and that is everybody is concerned about player safety. We're just trying to see how that manifests in a rule, how that rule manifests itself in a game and how it affects the integrity of the game overall."
Stewart said he doesn't like the language that he has been apprised of.
"It's written now that the catcher has to give the baserunner a line to get to the plate," he said. "The runner's job is to slide in, not to create contact. The problem is, though, that if the catcher goes into that line at any point and prevents the runner from seeing home plate, basically, [the runner is] automatically going to be awarded the plate safe. Throws, as you know, aren't always on line. And catchers have to go into that line just to make a play, to get the ball.
"That's just not going to work. That's my personal opinion. Everybody seems to have their own opinion on it. Until we can conclusively all come together on a final rule to put in the books, I don't think we can do anything yet.
"Injuries are part of the game. As long as a guy's intent is not to injure the other player, then it's part of baseball."
Hurdle announces Black & Gold game lineups
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Spring Training workout days are dwindling down to their final few and on Sunday morning Pirates manager Clint Hurdle posted the lineups on the clubhouse board for Tuesday's Black & Gold intrasquad game at McKechnie Field.
The Major League team will move over there that day for the remainder of the spring from Pirate City, and Pittsburgh will open the Grapefruit League schedule against the Yankees at McKechnie on Wednesday at 1:05 p.m. ET.
"This is just to get it started, just to get these guys on the mound," Hurdle said about the Tuesday game after the workout on Sunday. "Get some pitchers innings so we can set up the rotation and get some [hitters] some competitive at bats. Just get some reps on the field. Actually just kick off the on-field portion of Spring Training to get us in a game frame of mind."
For the Black team, here's the lineup from top to bottom:
Alen Hanson at shortstop, Gregory Polanco in center field, Chris Dickerson in left field, Matt Hague at third base, Travis Ishikawa in right field, Nevin Ashley catching, Chris McGuiness at first base, Michael Martinez at second base, Omir Santos as the DH and right-hander Stolmy Pimentel starting.
The rest of the pitching is left-hander Andy Oliver and right-handers Jay Jackson, Zach Thornton, Brandon Mann and Matt Benedict.
For the Gold:
Jose Tabata in right field, Jaff Decker in center field, Andrew Lambo at first base, Tony Sanchez catching, Josh Harrison at third base, Robert Andino at shortstop, Chase d'Arnaud at second base, Carlos Paulino at DH;, Mel Rojas Jr. in left field and left-hander Joely Rodriguez starting.
The rest of the pitching is all right-handed: Casey Sadler, Jake Brigham, Cody Eppley, Elvin Ramirez and Ryan Beckman.
Ashley, Paulino, Santos, Andino, Hague, Ishikawa, Dickerson, Martinez, Jackson, Thornton, Brigham and Eppley are all non-roster players. Rojas, Mann, Benedict, Ramirez and Beckman are being brought over from the Minor League camp to play in the game.
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.