Day 3: Is it almost “shoe” time?
Buccos GM Neal Huntington maintained all along that the A.J. Burnett indecision hanging for months over his head did not have an impact on other things he might have been working on.
That might’ve been just posturing. If you are discussing potential deals with another team or a free agent, you certainly do not want to make them feel they would be a Plan B to Plan A.J.
At least one veteran Pirates player is convinced shoes are about to drop.
“Now that the A.J. thing has been cleared up, I’m pretty sure we’re going to see some moves to help us on the offensive side,” he said.
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Pirates bench coach Jeff Banister has a perfect characterization of these early, repetitive days of Spring Training, before the bulk of position players report:
“These are the true Groundhog Days,” Banister says, with a nod to the Bill Murray movie, not Punxsutawney Phil.
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Second baseman Neil Walker, in Florida since early January, frequently hangs out with Jeff Karstens, a Tampa resident. Karstens has had a very quiet free agency after missing all of 2013 with shoulder problems and is still recovering from the June 8 surgery to clean out his rotator cuff and labrum.
“He won’t work out for teams until he feels completely healthy,” Walker said of his popular ex-teammate. “Jeff and [Joel] Hanrahan are in the same place. When they’re ready, I hope some teams pick them up; they can definitely help.”
Hanrahan, of course, had his own surgery, the Tommy John elbow reconstruction job, nine games into his season with Boston, where the Bucs had sent their former closer in the five-player trade that included Mark Melancon.