By: Joe Kapp

PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – We have been greeted every morning here in Bradenton with a smiling Ray Searage showing up for work at 5:20 a.m.

He says it’s because he gets to see The Fan Morning Show here every day in the dark in our little tent sending the news back to Pittsburgh. Although we appreciate Ray’s comments and we know he is a friend of the show, those smiles are not because of us, but because of the talented group of arms he has to work with.

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“Were sitting good,” Searage says. “Now we just need to not try and do too much and do what we are capable of and we will be fine.”

So far so good in 2013, as the Pirates starters through three games have yet to yield a run.

The biggest question mark in that rotation is James McDonald.

Searage is confident in his work with James on the video and that it will translate to the mound.

“We have the answer for his delivery. Now, we just need to get more mental stability” Searage said.

He admits that his mental state was a big reason for the drop off in 2012. Searage expects to see more of what we saw from McDonald in the first half last year. He says it wasn’t a fluke.

“It was happening so what we need now is just to be more consistent,” Searage said.

The only two confirmed starters in that rotation are A.J. Burnett who will get the Opening Day assignment and Wandy Rodriguez, who will pitch the second game of the 2013 season.

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Both Burnett and Rodriguez will throw today against the Rays at McKechnie Field at 1:05 p.m.

Searage is very excited to have the experience of both of those guys and said both are vets and will be ready to go despite being set back by the rain out here yesterday.

He is concerned with Rodriguez being in the World Baseball Classic pitching for the Dominican Republic March 2 to 19. Searage also has a grin from ear to ear when he talks about the young Gerrit Cole, who will also throw today.

Searage knows it won’t be long before we see him in Pittsburgh saying, “He is mature beyond his years.”

There are many reasons for Searage to be smiling with so many talented arms in the Pirates’ system, but the organization may have the biggest smile of all because they have Uncle Ray leading the way.

Listen to Ray’s guest appearance on The Fan Morning Show here:

The Fan Morning Show will be broadcasting LIVE from Bradenton all week.

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