Early Bucs scratch the itch

BRADENTON, Fla. — Bottom-line: Neal Huntington opted to decline Paul Maholm’s $9.75 million option for 2012; Pirates now have vets Erik Bedard and A.J. Burnett for a combined $9.5 million.

You don’t have to be a financial expert to like those numbers…

Can Burnett star in a remake of the Kurt Russell “classic,” Escape From New York? He could reprise a role already played by Javier Vazquez, Carl Pavano, Ian Kennedy, Ted Lilly, etc., etc….

Not to imply that the Bucs can’t wait to get going, but a full week before their Feb. 24 reporting date — and even that, remember, is a week before the MLB mandatory reporting date — position players are overrunning the Pirate City clubhouse.

Already spotted in camp: Three-quarters of the potential starting infield (Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker, Casey McGehee) and outfielders Starling Marte and Jose Tabata). …

Pitchers formally check in and have their physicals on Saturday, but many have been working out long enough to have gone through numerous reps. …

No one is happier to be in Bradenton than Erik Bedard. Because Bradenton is not in Arizona — Bedard’s Spring Training home the last four years, with the Mariners. The lefty won’t miss the dry heat — no sweat, no break on pitches, nothing to slow down hard-hit balls.

“Numbers get ugly there,” said Bedard, a Florida guy with the Orioles prior to his trade to Seattle. “It wasn’t too bad for veterans like me, but for a young pitcher trying to make an impression … very tough.” …

Gerrit Cole is finding his first few days in a big-league camp “definitely interesting.” The No. 1 is on a weird schedule: Pitch for UCLA, take four months off, pitch a little in the Arizona Fall League, take four more months off … which brings us to now, as he truly embarks on his pro career. …

Yankees Universe … Red Sox Nation … Cardinals Country … Pirate City? That’s it? Yeah, that’s going to change. …

Wish kept a log of this offseason’s “expected” reports, so could’ve come up with a Credibility Index. “Fielder expected to sign with Rangers,” “Marlins expected to sign Cespedes,” “Chocolate expected to reduce weight,” and the like. Maybe next winter. …

Simply cannot believe that Nationals GM Mike Rizzo actually said this about Bryce Harper: “He wants to go into the Hall of Fame with a Washington Nationals hat on.” Couldn’t he at least wait until he had a Triple-A at-bat before making reservations in Cooperstown? …

1 Comment

awful lot could go wrong in the next 20 years. i hope the kid busts.

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