Rounding the bases…
FIRST BASE: On May 10, 2013, no one in Pittsburgh knew that Francisco Liriano (16-8), Gerrit Cole (10-7), and Charlie Morton (7-4) would combine for a 33-19 record or that Marlon Byrd would fill the huge gap in the middle of the Clint Hurdle’s lineup, or that Justin Morneau would answer the Pirates’ first base problem.
The starting rotation that opened the season included A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, James McDonald, Jonathan Sanchez, and Jeff Locke.
The Bucs upgraded their roster as the season progressed: Liriano came off the DL on May 11, followed by Morton on June 13. Cole first pitched in the majors on June 11, and Byrd and Morneau were added in late August.
These are good points to remember as spring training opens.
It is true that there are many questions the Pirates must try to answer before March 31 arrives. That’s the date we should be worried about the roster, not on February 12.
SECOND BASE: The Burnett saga continues to perplex everyone.
The last official comment we heard from the right-hander came last fall when he said he would play for the Pirates in 2014 or retire.
Throughout the off-season, nothing official has happened. Actually until two weeks ago, nothing at all had happened. Even so, all we’ve heard has been “reports” that Burnett wanted to pitch in 2014 after all.
Again “reports” have suggested where he might end up, if not with the Pirates. But again, nothing has come from either Burnett or his agent.
Pirates’ General Manager Neal Huntington has replayed the same answer any time the subject arises. He simply indicates that the Pirates are interested, but are respecting Burnett as he works through the process.
Burnett made $16.5 million in each of his two seasons with the Pirates, with the Yankees picking up $11.5 million in 2012 and $8.5 million last year. “Reports” have indicated the Pirates offered their pitching leader an $8.5 million contract this year.
Seeing what money various other pitchers got this winter, the Bucs’ best offer is insulting—asking one of the game’s best pitchers to have a 50 percent cut. That offer is just $3.5 million more than the Bucs gave Edinson Volquez, whose major-league ERA was the worst in all of baseball last season.
In effect, if the Pirates signed Burnett for $13 million this season, the money from their pockets would total $26.5 million for his three years—an average of less than $9 million a year.
Experts have placed Burnett’s value in 2014 at $20 million, a figure that even the 37-year-old hurler knows is not going to happen. But to expect a pitcher who is given credit for transforming the Pirates from baseball’s outhouse to the playoffs should certainly be displeased with the way the Bucs have handled this situation.
THIRD BASE: Considering the mountains of snow and the many days of double-digit below zero wind chills and the number of school delays, today is a day that should warm the hearts of everyone, even those who don’t follow our national pastime.
Pirate pitchers and catchers have been trickling in for a week, scheduled to report to Bradenton’s training complex today in preparation for tomorrow’s first official workout.
The first full-squad workout is next Tuesday, with the first Grapefruit League game two weeks from today, when the Yankees visit Bradenton at 1:05 p.m.
HOME: The Pirates’ first spring game will be aired on 93.7 The Fan.
The first televised game on Root Sports from spring training will be at 1:05 p.m. Sunday, March 9 when the Bucs host the Red Sox.
Four additional pre-season games will be aired on Root Sports: 1:05 p.m. on Monday, March 17 against the Yankees; 7:05 p.m. on Wednesday, March 19 at Boston and Friday, March 21 at the Yankees; and 1:05 p.m. Saturday, March 29 at Philadelphia. ESPN will air the 1:05 p.m. game on Monday, March 24 against Detroit.
Rounding the bases…
Wise set for SRU Hall
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Former Grove City High athletic great Tom Wise has been selected as a 2014 inductee to the Slippery Rock University Athletic Hall of Fame.
Wise was former three-time All-American and three-time Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference champion track and field student-athlete at Slippery Rock.
As a Rock student-athlete, Wise claimed a fourth-place finish and two sixth-place honors in decathlon competitions at NCAA Division II national championships.
THE CHECKERED FLAG: Western Pa.'s Zeigler scores big
LAST FRIDAY, I headed west to Attica Raceway Park for the FAST “410” Sprint Cars and UMP Late Model “Summer Nationals Hell Tour” along with the first appearance by the UMP (E) Mods. A great field of 37 Late Models, 28 Sprints, and 23 E-Mods were on hand along with a packed house. Overcast conditions made for a fast 1/3-mile track that provided great racing all night long.
Craig Mintz picked up the win the last time I was at Attica on June 6, but shortly thereafter suffered a back injury that kept him out of action for a month. On Friday night, Mintz returned and led every lap of the 30-lap Sprint Car feature for his season’s third win. The Gibsonburg, Ohio driver’s victory was worth $3,000 and had to hold off a last lap slide job by Christopher Bell.
THE CHECKERED FLAG: Up and down week for Sodeman
LAST FRIDAY I headed south to add I-77 Raceway Park to my track attended list, which made for 162nd track all-time. I-77 is located south of Ripley, West Virginia just off Interstate 77. This season, I-77 moved from the crowded Saturday night line-up to Friday night racing and teamed up with Ohio Valley Speedway. I-77 normally runs Super Late Models, Semi-Late Models, E-Mods, Mod Lites, and 4-Cylinder Mini Stocks. With the Sprint Cars on the schedule, I decided to make the trip and they were joined by the Super Late Models, Semi-Late Models, and E-Mods.
NCAA Football: Rock 6-1 after 17-3 win over Cal U
Slippery Rock University rode a length-of-the-field scoring drive by its offense and a goal-line stand by its No. 1-ranked defense late in the first half of action Saturday to a 17-3 win over 14th-ranked visiting California (Pa.).
NFL: Steelers top Jags as Mendenhall makes return
Mike Tomlin isn’t ready to say the Pittsburgh Steelers are back. Not after watching his team sleepwalk through the second half against Jacksonville on Sunday.
IndyCar Racing: Crash takes Wheldon’s life
Every race car driver heads onto the track understanding this race could be the last and hoping it won’t be. On Sunday, IndyCar drivers got a harsh reminder when the worst happened to one of their own.
NHL: Sabres beat Penguins 3-2
The Buffalo Sabres have had trouble with the Pittsburgh Penguins whether Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin play or not.
NHL Quick glance: Montreal at Pittsburgh
A breakdown of the National Hockey League game Thursday night between the Pittsburgh Penguins and visiting Montreal Canadiens.
High School Highlights: Oct. 19, 2011
A look at the last few days in local high school fall sports action.
Leading Off: Oct. 19, 2011
News and notes from the local, regional and national sports scene.
- More Sports Headlines
- Wise set for SRU Hall