2/25/2014 5:39 P.M. ET
Fresh opportunity with Pirates excites Morel
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Joey Porter beat Brent Morel back to Pittsburgh, but only by two weeks.
Shortly after being claimed by the Pirates on waivers from Toronto on Monday afternoon, Morel tweeted about his allegiance to the Steelers and his glee over possibly getting to play for a team in their city.
Morel is a native of Bakersfield, Calif., so the link to the Steelers? Porter, who also grew up in Bakersfield prior to moving on to college and pro football.
"My dad coached high school football," Morel said, "and we got close to Joey Porter, so when he got drafted by the Steelers [in 1999], the whole family became fans, and I've been following them since."
Quite literally, on this occasion: Porter, the former linebacker, rejoined the Steelers as a defensive assistant coach on Mike Tomlin's staff earlier this month.
This is the second "fresh start" in two months for Morel, the onetime regular White Sox third baseman who had been claimed on waivers by the Blue Jays in December.
"It didn't work out [in Toronto], but I'm real excited about this opportunity here," Morel said after his first morning around the Pirates. "It seems like a great group of guys. All they want to do is win, and I just hope I can be one of the 25 guys to help them do that."
Pimentel aims to pitch himself into Bucs' plans
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Stolmy Pimentel can control his fastball -- as he made a point of doing while pitching two scoreless innings with three strikeouts as the Blacks' starter in Tuesday's intrasquad game.
What the right-hander cannot control is his Pirates fate. Pimentel does appear to have the inside track for a spot on the staff by virtue of being out of options, meaning the Bucs would risk losing him by not keeping him as one of their 25.
As for what the role of the 24-year-old Dominican, who has started 147 of his 152 Minor League games, might be ...
"I can't control that," Pimentel said. "I've been a starter for seven years, but if they want to use me in the bullpen, it doesn't matter."
Manager Clint Hurdle is very high on Pimentel. One of the spring's big projects will be determining whether he could fill the type of swing role handled so well last season by Jeanmar Gomez, who was outstanding both in long relief (3.77 ERA in 26 games) and as a spot starter (2.80 ERA in eight starts, all of them Pittsburgh victories).
Actually, Pimentel feels there is one other thing he can control.
"I just want to compete and pitch as best as I can -- so I can make them make a decision," he said.
• Tony Sanchez, whose first big league hit last June was a double that memorably lodged in Angel Stadium's right-field scoreboard, continues to show impressive opposite-field power: He doubled and stroked a three-run homer, both to right, in the Golds' 4-3 win in Wednesday's intrasquad game in front of 2,418 fans at McKechnie Field.
• Travis Ishikawa was the Blacks' starter in right field, but he was pulled with a tight leg before getting to bat, in the second inning.
• Robert Andino, in the Golds' starting lineup at short, was scratched so he could take care of a personal matter. Andino is listed No. 2 in the third base depth chart for Wednesday's Grapefruit League opener against the Yankees.
• Neil Walker's second annual one-day baseball camp will be held on June 30 at Seneca Valley High School. Go to NeilWalkerCamp.com for details and registration.
• An online auction of former Pirates pitching great Bob Friend's memorabilia runs through Wednesday. Items being offered by Hunt Auctions include Friend's uniforms and glove from the 1960 World Series and what is believed to have been the Forbes Field pitching rubber used during that Fall Classic.
First number, last word
93,433: The Pirates' total draw for 15 games at McKechnie Field last spring, a club record; ticket sales for this spring are running well ahead of last year's pace.
"I must have looked really good there." -- Pirates first basemen Gaby Sanchez, on having worked out at third base Monday morning -- two hours before the Bucs got another third baseman, claiming Morel off waivers from Toronto.
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.