BRADENTON (93-7 THE FAN) – Nobody pulled up in a Rolls Royce, nobody wheeled in any 75-inch televisions, and nobody failed a conditioning test.
Reporting day for pitchers and catchers was, and always has been, relatively uneventful, especially when compared to reporting day for say, the Steelers at St. Vincent College in Latrobe. The same was true today, as pitchers and catchers arrived, and in most cases, got in a workout, amongst a few early-reporting position players, such as David Freese, Jordy Mercer, John Jaso, the newly-acquired Phil Gosselin, and the optimistic Josh Bell.
Some news and notes from the day at Pirate City:
- Josh Bell’s knee surgery, at least by his description, was as minor as they come, and he’s in the midst of the 2nd week of recovery as part of a 2-4 week timeline for being back at 100 percent participation. Bell’s routine in the offseason included yoga at the suggestion of former Pirates’ first baseman Kevin Young, in order to increase flexibility and, in his words, “open up his hips” to increase his range and mobility at first base. Manager Clint Hurdle told Starkey & Mueller last week that Bell will get an opportunity to play every day, and while he’d be happy to be the team’s everyday first baseman, Bell has also talked to new first base coach and outfield/baserunning coach Kimera Bartee about continuing to take reps in the outfield.
- Gerrit Cole said he feels much better this spring than last season, given he’s not fighting a rib injury, which delayed his preparations for the 2016 regular season and plagued him throughout the campaign. “That was a battle last year, but the ball’s coming out well now,” said Cole, as he acknowledged bad habits and faulty mechanics contributed to his sub-par performance a year ago.
- Tyler Glasnow also acknowledged being healthier this spring, saying it’s “the best I’ve felt.” The offseason was a chance to tweak mechanics based on lessons learned in 2016 for the rookie and presumptive 5th starter in the Pirates rotation. “I made some pretty big adjustments. I had to struggle a little bit last year to kind of figure it out.”
- Ivan Nova, who maintained late last summer and into the autumn that he wanted to stay in Pittsburgh, insisted today that it was his desire to stay a Pirate, not necessarily the soft free agent market that brought him back on a team-friendly, 3-year $26 million deal this offseason. “The way everybody treats me here, the pitching coach we have, I feel that this is the right place to be right now,” said Nova as he held court for more than 10 minutes, discussing everything from how pitching in Pittsburgh, with less organizational pressure than with the Yankees, made his adjustment successful, to the difference between pitching at PNC Park and Yankee Stadium. “It’s not easy pitching in New York. [After being traded to Pittsburgh], I was relaxed. In New York, sometimes, you have a bad game, you go to the bullpen, or maybe they skip you. I won 16 games there [in 2011], and I didn’t have a spot [coming back].”
- Francisco Cervelli admitted to trying to make up for a lack of power while playing through a hamate bone injury in his left hand by doing too much with the rest of his body at the plate. “I don’t like to make excuses, but I gained bad habits at the plate. I tried to gain power with my body because my hands weren’t working the right way.”
- If you’re looking for a dark horse in the back end of the rotation derby, keep an eye out for non-roster invitee Casey Sadler. After pitching both out of the pen and the rotation at both AAA and the Major League level in ’14 and ’15, he spent the last 15 months recovering from Tommy John surgery. Sadler and his wife are expecting a baby girl in the next two months, and with Bradenton as his home base, he’s been in Spring Training mode for a while now, perhaps giving him a jump on others when throwing programs begin in earnest tomorrow. He rejected that notion, though. “If you try to put either too great or too little of an expectation on yourself, you could fall in to a little bit of a rut. When I get an opportunity to get back on the field, I’ll just pitch like I know how, and go back out and get outs. ”
- The realization that new infielder Phil Gosselin, a Malvern, Pa. native, is a Philadelphia Flyers fan wasn’t as surprising as the admission by starting pitcher Chad Kuhl that the Delaware resident is a Dallas Cowboys fan, and grew up one in Philadelphia Eagles territory simply because his older brother was one, and he wasn’t given much of a choice.
Pitchers and catchers will meet with Manager Clint Hurdle first thing on Tuesday morning before taking to the fields of Pirate City alongside early reporting position players at 10 a.m.