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Few big-leaguers on hand as minicamp opens


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BRADENTON, Fla. -- A total of 26 players have lockers in the Pirate City clubhouse as the Pirates get ready for minicamp, which starts this morning and runs through Thursday.

But only a diehard fan would know most of those players. It is primarily a collection of minor-leaguers as participation in the camp is voluntary under rules of the collective bargaining agreement between the owners and players.

The most recognizable name is Joe Musgrove. He is expected to check in at some point this week so the medical staff can check his progress from October surgery to repair a pelvic wall stress reaction and abdominal wall strain.

Chad Kuhl will also be in camp as he recovers from Tommy John surgery that will cause him to miss the upcoming season.

Beside Musgrove and Kuhl, the only players both on the 40-man roster and with major league experience who are participating are Steven Brault, Nick Burdi, Richard Rodriguez, Erik Gonzalez and Kevin Newman. Gonzalez and Newman are expected to compete for the staring shortstop job when spring training begins next month.

"I'm excited for the opportunity," Newman said. "That's all you can ask for. This week gives me a little bit of a head start."

Other 40-man players in camp include right-handers J.T. Brubaker, Luis Escobar and Pedro Liranzo, shortstop Cole Tucker and outfielder Jason Martin.

Three of the organization's top prospects -- first baseman Will Craig, third baseman Ke'Bryan Hayes and outfielder Bryan Reynolds --- are also here. They have also been invited to spring training as non-roster players.

Manager Clint Hurdle and the coaching staff are overseeing the workouts. Most of the front office staff is also on hand, including Jeff Banister, the former Pirates catcher and coach who was hired Sunday as a special assistant to Neal Huntington. Banister spent four seasons as the Rangers' manager before being fired in September.


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