Pirates-Tigers Tuesday: Josh Harrison hustles, Chris McGuiness struggles

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Just to get you in that Florida frame of mind, 76 degrees and sunny.

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Taiwanese Yao-Hsun Yang has decent numbers — 1 run in 3 IP this spring — but he had trouble finding the plate between innings and during Tuesday’s tilt in Lakeland. I’m not convinced he has the control to succeed in the majors (albeit after watching a grand total of one-time ever).

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What a professional game by Josh Harrison. He successfully completed numerous chances at second base — isn’t that where he mostly played in Cubs’ system? — and as a batter he turned a single to the shortstop’s left into a double with hustle that never stopped out of the batter’s box (Cutch, take note). Harrison aggressively took third on an infield groundout and ran so fast from third to home that my father caught only a part of his leg on his scamper to the plate. Seriously, he set a good example for the younger players (and older ones, for that matter) in both dugouts Tuesday.

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The Trib’s Travis Sawchik noted Alvarez hitting the ball to the opposite field in batting practice Tuesday. He went so far as to mention a Chris-Davis like breakout possibility. I won’t go that far. I spoke to Joe Hultzen of the Bucs’ front office during BP and didn’t see Alvarez’s exhibition. I will say that after purposely making an effort to see him take BP at PNC Park regularly, he does spray the ball around, so Tuesday might have not been anything really new. We’ll see. It’s exciting to think about Pedro’s possibilities. Isn’t that what spring training is all about?

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My Aunt Helen once told me she said a doctor noted how she should be six-feet tall with the torso she has. Short legs, however, conspired to max her height out in the low five-foot range. Gregory Polanco looks to have the opposite build. His torso doesn’t appear to match up with those daddy-long legger legs. I think it will be interesting to see how he physically matures. Will he keep his quickness and his surprising speed? Or will he turn into a thicker slugger and have good speed for a “big man.” Pirates fans are lucky to have such a question posed, either way.

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Polanco beat out another infield single Tuesday, but it was his interplay with Detroit slugger, Miguel Cabrera, after a ground out that seemed more interesting. Cabrera had some playful words for Polanco on his way back to the dugout. I’d love to hear what they were.

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You don’t have to look hard to see photographic equipment in the corner of this photo. For the first five innings, a couple of photographers sat on the field and ruined picture-taking for anyone on the other side of the field.

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They seemed to be having a good time, anyhow.

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Brent Morel hit a couple hard drives to center, but both were caught.

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First baseman, Chris McGuiness, had been having a good spring prior to Tuesday. Against Detroit, the lefty was charged with an error in the field (pitcher Brandon Cumpton was scrambling to cover first base) here) and watched three pitches go past him for three straight called strikes. At least swing the bat once; it’s spring training.

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Jordy Mercer uses every inch of his six foot-plus frame to cover the plate and does a good job of it. He’s set to murder right-handed pitching again in 2014.

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Some of the Bradenton booster club made the trip to Lakeland. Everyone in the yellow jerseys volunteers at McKechnie Field, ushering or working elsewhere in the park. Someday that will be me, but as they say in the “Gladiator” — “not yet.”

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A caption contest would go well with this shot of prospective first baseman, Andrew Lambo, inspecting his bat alongside manager Clint Hurdle.

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Hurdle is originally from Michigan. He was seen here blowing kisses not to AJ Burnett, but to one of his many admirers in the crowd prior to the game.

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Mt. Lebanon native, Don Kelly, stroked a couple hits down the right field line, including a double, then flew out to the track in left.

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Starter Rick Porcello hit 96 mph in the first or second inning and I immediately turned to the Tigers fans to my right and asked him if the radar gun was accurate. I’m not sure I saw another 96 mph heater, but he was consistently throwing 93 or 94 mph.

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Joe Nathan looked solid for Detroit. I had read an article about how he was actually lucky in 2013 with the Rangers, but even if he regresses a bit this year he’ll put up plenty of saves for the Tigers.

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Cabrera moved well Tuesday and hit like he’s ready for another MVP-like season, grounding hard to second and flying deep to center.

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Austin Jackson went deep to left field for the Tigers. I remember scouting him and Jose Tabata in Altoona, back when both players were still with New York’s Double-A Trenton team. Lots of fantasy gamers are expecting a big year from Jackson. See if you can find Kate Upton, or at least Justin Verlander, in the dugout congratulating the outfielder after his dinger.

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I made sure to wear my “neutral” Penguins gear to the game Tuesday. Surprisingly, I didn’t get into many discussions with Red Wings fans, though the retired police officer I spoke with did note the Wings’ tough season thus far.

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Before dad and I left the officer snapped a shot in the shade. Jim Leyland watched the game from the box to the right of the section.

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Almost forgot to mention that Charlie Morton pitched really well and made short work of the Tigers for three frames. He unveiled a new split-change that he intends to keep left-handed hitters honest. Brandon Cumpton, on the other hand, was rocked and even the outs he recorded were loud ones.

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Treasure Life!
JT
@JohnToperzer
@PiratesTalk

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