Trucks roll. Lawnmowers rev. And here at pirates.com, we launch our own countdown to Spring Training '15 with a series of quick shots looking at issues facing the Bucs at the dawn of a new season.
In the coming days, we'll examine the new faces in Bradenton, prospects to keep eyes on, and set the stage for how it all looks going in: Lineup, rotation, bullpen.
We begin today with a rundown of Pirates players On The Rebound from injury or performance aches.
RHP Charlie Morton: Conceding him out of the season-opening rotation as he recovers from late-September right hip surgery might be a mistake. Morton had the identical procedure -- to fix the labrum -- on the left side on Oct. 10, 2011, and made his return start the following April 14 -- 186 days later. The 2015 season opens 192 days after his Sept. 26 operation.
RHP Jameson Taillon: Were it not for April 9 Tommy John surgery, the big righty would've caught up to Gerrit Cole in the Bucs' rotation last summer. It could happen later this summer if the Pirates' No. 2 prospect's recovery continues as well as it has gone thus far.
RHP A.J. Burnett: He has already rebounded from Philadelphia. Can the tattooed one now also rebound from an unsavory trifecta, leading the Majors in losses (18), runs allowed (122) and walks (96)? He is all in, after deciding on the 2015 season as his last of 17.
OF Gregory Polanco: Rebound, really? Well, after his spectacular debut (11-game hit streak) faded into a 6-for-58 stagger to the wire, the assignment applies. Not that anyone has any doubts that he will come on strong.
INF Pedro Alvarez: From April 18, 2013 to July 11, 2014, he hit 51 home runs -- more than anyone else in the National League. Then he hit only six more. The '13 All-Star third baseman will try to turn the corner from the other corner of the infield in 2015.
INF/OF Corey Hart: Since slugging 87 homers for Milwaukee from 2010-2012, he has been unplugged by major leg injuries, including to both knees and the left hamstring. One of the game's purest power hitters hopes to still get it back at 33.
LHP Clayton Richard: The lone non-roster invitee on this list, he is trying to come back from the April 2013 surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome that had derailed him after he'd won 33 games in San Diego from 2010-12.