The Tribune-Review looks at the top storylines heading into spring training. PIRATES CAMP WHO'S ON FIRST? General manager Neal Huntington tried to acquire a first baseman over the winter but struck out on the free agent and trade markets. Could there be a viable platoon combination amid Gaby Sanchez, Andrew Lambo and Chris McGuiness? Possibly. That won't stop Huntington from continuing to work the phones, searching for a deal. The issue might not be resolved until the final week of camp, when teams make final cuts and are more willing to swing a trade than lose a guy for nothing via waivers. LIFE AFTER A.J. A.J. Burnett was more than just the Opening Day starter last season. He provided 10 wins, 30 starts, 209 strikeouts and 191 innings pitched. Those shoes probably are too big for new arrival Edinson Volquez to fill. Gerrit Cole has the grit and stuff to be a workhorse, but is that too much to ask for a guy in his first full season in the majors? HOW'S THE ARM, WANDY? He's probably sick of the question, but it won't go away. Wandy Rodriguez's left arm went sour in June and cost him the rest of the season. After working out at his home in the Dominican Republic, Rodriguez insisted during minicamp that he'll be ready for Day 1 of spring training. Even if he's not, don't panic. With two early off days, the Pirates could push his debut back to April 14, two weeks into the season. SHORTSTOP TRANSITION Jordy Mercer's bat cost veteran Clint Barmes the starting job midway through last season. But down the stretch and throughout the playoffs, when defense mattered most, Barmes was back in the lineup. This spring, Mercer again is listed as the everyday guy. Barmes was resigned as a mentor ... and a safety net in case Mercer fails to smooth his rough edges in the field.
Wandy Rodriguez says he’s ready for spring training
Pittsburgh Tribune Review | Feb 10