- The Pirates began their four-day mini-camp this morning in Bradenton. The team expected 22 pitchers and five position players to attend. Management and coaches will have the opportunity to meet with players, the majority of which are pitchers, in a relaxed environment. As pitching coach Jeff Andrews was quoted in today’s Post-Gazette, “This is just a good chance for the pitchers to get to know [manager] John [Russell], myself and the staff and to understand what John expects of them. When you’re going full-throttle in spring training and have all fields occupied, you don’t always have time for nice, casual conversation with pitchers about pitching. This will be our springboard for that.”
- One position player attending the voluntary workouts is catcher Ronny Paulino. Evidently, Paulino has heard the criticism regarding his performance. He claims to have lost ten pounds and added muscle over the offseason in an attempt to rebound from a poor 2007 campaign. Defensively, it seems that the most frustrating aspect of Paulino’s game is that he appears to have some potential. Maybe with increased accountability from management, he will be more focused behind the dish this year. Couple that with a few less pounds and maybe some increased quickness, and he may become an effective defensive catcher. Due to a strong month of September (.341/.404/.471 in 94 plate appearances), Paulino’s final numbers (.263/.314/.389) were just below average for a National League catcher (.257/.318/.394) in 2007. I still doubt that he will be a long-term contributor to this team and I would rather see Ryan Doumit get the opportunity to catch, but it might be interesting to see how Paulino performs in 2008.
- Recent signee Adam Bernero is attending the mini-camp as a non-roster pitcher. Bernero, 31, will attempt to make the club as a reliever. He has a 5.91 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 247 strikeouts and 133 walks in 376 career innings. He has also started 37 games, most of which came with Detroit in 2002 and 2003. Bernero missed all of 2007 after elbow surgery.