PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) – Ray Searage was smiling from ear-to-ear.

“This is great, isn’t it?” he said as the Pirates’ pitching coach looked around, taking in the 65 degree temperature and clear skies, the sound of his pitchers long tossing and baseballs hitting mitts Wednesday afternoon at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida.

“Boy, the offseason flew by,” he said, speaking of it nostalgically. “That’s okay, though. I’m ready to go. I’ve got the juices flowing.”

KDKA-TV Sports’ Rich Walsh Reports from Bradenton:

Wednesday was the official report date for pitchers and catchers, though many have been there for days, some weeks. Some position players are still missing, as they don’t have to report until the end of the week. However, Jordy Mercer joined other early-arrivers like John Jaso, Jason Rodgers, Andrew McCutchen and others today.

Lefty Jeff Locke has been there since the beginning of January.

“It’s that fun time of year…everybody has the itch. It’s like the first day of school,” he said.

On the field, the club didn’t overdo it when it came to intensity of the workout. It’s far from a full squad on the field. Mostly minor leaguers and some regulars did basic baseball drills. Many major league coaches weren’t around to run the session, mostly minor league staff members.

Pitchers began throwing small bullpen sessions as they begin to build up their pitch counts.

The early focus this spring has been on the progress of Jung Ho Kang, the third baseman who has been progressing well as he recovers from a gruesome left knee injury. On Wednesday, he took a small amount of ground balls at third base on an empty field.

He then did light running, starting at the left field foul line and trotting out to center field and returning again.

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