2/24/2014 5:24 P.M. ET
Hurdle eager to test new replay rules
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Following Joe Torre's Sunday afternoon presentation of how Major League Baseall will implement expanded replay review, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle is clear on how the process will work and eager for his Pirates to give it some test runs.
"It was a very good day, very informative," Hurdle said of the three-hour meeting led by Torre, MLB's executive vice president of baseball operations. "A lot of research and effort went into this, and we're mindful of the fact this is a historic opportunity for us to continue improving our game.
"Every team has the opportunity to customize its own protocol for deciding to [issue a] challenge," added Hurdle, who offered a synopsis of how the Bucs are likely to proceed. "We'll have a guy stationed in a spot to get information [off the game telecast]. I can go out [on the field] to argue a play, but there will come a time to make a challenge or just go away, so I'll look in for help and he'll either indicate 'Hey, push it, challenge it,' or 'They got it right; get off the field.'"
In addition to what Hurdle called "some in-house practice of our own," the Pirates will play six exhibition games under the expanded review process: Four televised Grapefruit League games, plus the March 28-29 games in Philadelphia.
Sanchez, Morel other options at third base
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Gaby Sanchez, the first baseman, spent part of Monday morning's workout at the other corner of the infield, as Pirates manager Clint Hurdle explored alternative options at third base.
A few hours later, Hurdle had another option: The Pirates claimed third baseman Brent Morel on waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays.
Morel, 26, was the White Sox's regular third baseman in 2011 and has seen action with the team each of the last four seasons. The Blue Jays had claimed him on waivers in December, then designated him for assignment on Friday.
Morel immediately went on the 40-man roster of the Bucs, who made room for him by designating infielder Chase d'Arnaud for assignment.
Earlier, Sanchez got in a lot of hot corner work, with rookie Andrew Lambo stationed at first during infield drills.
"We're going to give him some innings [in exhibition play] at third," Hurdle had said. "Gaby worked very hard there last year and didn't have many opportunities for innings. We'll give him more and see where he can take it. We need to have a Plan B and a Plan C should something happen to [regular third baseman Pedro Alvarez]."
Morel could be in that alphabet soup. In 126 games as a rookie in 2011, he batted .245 with 10 homers and 41 RBIs. However, in 68 other Major League games since 2010, he has gone 30-for-203 (.148), adding only three more home runs and 13 more RBIs.
Sanchez's experience at third base consists of four innings -- interestingly, the final four innings of the 2013 regular season.
First number, last word
May 31, 2005: The date of A.J. Burnett's last appearance against the Pirates. He is scheduled to face his recent teammates on Saturday, when the Bucs travel to Clearwater for an exhibition game against the Phillies.
"You know what really shakes you up? It's those foul tips. I won't wear the hockey-type mask. It molds to your face, and when you get a foul tip, you feel all of it, there's nothing to soften the blow." -- Pirates catcher Russell Martin, pointing out catchers have more to worry about than overly aggressive baserunners.
• The Bucs broke their Pirate City camp on Monday -- a little earlier in the day than usual -- with many players and Hurdle booked to participate in a charity golf tournament.
• Todd Tomczyk, the Pirates' head athletic trainer, has stocked the new padding for pitchers' caps intended to give them added protection on the mound, but none of the hurlers are expected to take advantage of them. Most find the thick padding, by 4Licensing Corporation subsidiary isoBlox, to make the caps uncomfortable.
• Jason Grilli was one of the few pitchers to do any bullpen work on Monday, but his first exhibition appearance has yet to be scheduled.
"We'll wait a little bit," Hurdle said, "But he's right on target, where we want him to be now. We're monitoring his progress, and he is in a very good place."
• Hurdle did not want any alarms to be raised by the fact Opening Day starter Francisco Liriano is down for only one inning in Wednesday's Grapefruit League opener against the Yankees, while three subsequent starters (Charlie Morton, Gerrit Cole and Wandy Rodriguez) are all scheduled to go two.
"It's just the way we set it up," Hurdle said. "[Liriano] went two innings on the side the other day. We haven't had any setbacks to anyone to this day."
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.