High camp, lowdown: Feb. 18
BRADENTON — Quiet day in Pirates camp, as rest of pitchers and catchers check in while gearing up for Sunday’s first formal workout for batterymen. The pre-workout routine includes physicals — which can be anything but routine, as the Yankees and Hideki Okajima found out.
Sunday is expected to also bring the first A.J. Burnett sighting — although he may not be able to dive right in even after his physical. Such timing would be extremely odd, but there have been multiple reports that Commissioner Bud Selig would rubber-stamp the trade — required, since the Yankees are packaging Burnett with 20 times the $1 million trigger for needed approval — only after a successful physical.
Burnett’s durability is often cited as a trait that most appealed to, and is most needed, by the Pirates. True, good or bad, he’s been out there close to 200 innings every season. But, although the Pirates have not had a 200-inning pitcher for a couple of years — Zach Duke was the last, with 213 in 2009 — it’s not like more recent Bucs rotations have been made of tissue.
In fact, last season all five starters logged 154-plus innings. Do you know how many other Major League teams could make the same claim? Three, and two of them were in the playoffs (Rangers, Brewers, plus Mets).
Paul Maholm is out of that equation, obviously, but the team is convinced Erik Bedard will match or surpass his 162 1/3 innings.
Bedard will be one of the pitchers throwing a bullpen on Sunday. Won’t be his first; been in camp for a couple of weeks already, and will stretch out from the prior 25-pitch sessions he has already thrown.
In their last 10 games of 2011 — including the Division Series against the Tigers — the Yankees got only two wins out of their starters. Guess who had both of them? (Hint: Initials are A.J.)
How cool is it to case Pirate City and stroll among areas named for the chaperones of my childhood? Clemente and Stargell fields, the Mazeroski diamond, the Law, Friend, Face bullpens.