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Notes: Chacon embraces veteran status

Notes: Chacon embraces veteran status

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Looking around at Pirate City on Monday morning, Shawn Chacon didn't feel that old. The 29-year-old righty has experienced parts of six Major League seasons though, and that gives him about five years on most of the starting rotation.

Sometimes, having seniority is fun. Chacon said he enjoys feeling as though he has a sense of responsibility to some of the younger players, both in teaching and leading by example.

At other times, age is a drawback. Adding to his impending "old man complex" are his troubled knees. Last week, Chacon admitted to having arthritis in his right knee, a joint that he's had surgery on twice in the past. Monday, Chacon felt good and said he didn't expect the discomfort to alter his workouts, or his style of play. With something like this, he said, prevention is the best measure.

"Coming into camp, it feels pretty good. I just have to keep my legs strong, and all the muscles around it," he said. "There's nothing you can really do, just make sure I stay on top of my leg work."

Fortunately, he's got friends like 25-year-old Ian Snell to remind him -- constantly -- what it's like to be young.

"We're two of the very, very few African-American pitchers in the game, so we've kind of got that bond. He's my guy," Chacon said. "He's done a lot of things I saw in myself a while ago. Maybe five years down the road he'll be a little more laid-back.

"He keeps me going, that's for sure."

Mystery man: It's now not looking very likely Serguey Linares will join the Pirates any time soon, if at all. A quick look at his locker revealed just two uniform shirts, while each of the other lockers in the clubhouse are spilling over with tops and pants, including the position players who have yet to arrive. Pirates manager Jim Tracy remained mum on the situation, commenting only, "I don't know about Linares. I haven't heard anything definitive."

Linares, a 24-year-old Cuban defector currently living in Dominican Republic, was at home in Santo Domingo waiting out issues with his U.S. work visa.

In other news, Tony Armas Jr. -- widely considered to be the top candidate for the fifth starter spot -- reported to camp on Monday after missing the first week while in Venezuela trying to secure a U.S. work visa.

Beating the master: Masumi Kuwata has made quite a name for himself, both for his entourage and his bunting prowess. Rumor has it that he hadn't missed bunting a single ball through the first four days of training. On day five, third base coach Jeff Cox, who mans the pitching machine at the bunting station, managed to sneak one by Kuwata.

It wasn't an easy feat. The ball was so far to the right of the plate that it sent Kuwata tumbling into the dirt as he lunged out in a valiant attempt to make contact.

"Finally got to him!" came Cox's triumphant yell.

Skipper's salute: Snell has been catching Tracy's eye early on in Spring Training. By finishing in the top wave of sprints, jogging from station to station and offering active encouragement to his teammates during workouts, it's clear Snell's attitude is in the right place. However, Tracy was even more impressed with Snell's throwing sessions.

"Over the course of these first four days of Spring Training, I've been extremely impressed," Tracy said. "Not only with the work that he does, but the retention of what it was as far as where he was at a year ago. He's getting better.

"I see even a better pitcher right now, at this point in time in the spring, than I did last year. He knows himself so much better."

More mound work: Ten pitchers logged time in the bullpen at Pirate City, including Chacon, Romulo Sanchez, Matt Capps, Damaso Marte, Solomon Torres, Snell, Kevin Grybowski, Marty McLeary, Josh Shortsleff and Shane Youman.

Change of scenery: Five pitchers threw bullpen sessions at McKechnie Field before workouts began Monday, including Bryan Bullington, Sean Burnett, Kuwata, Josh Sharpless and John Wasdin. There was no specific reason for the session being held at the Pirates' Spring Training stadium other than to simply provide new surroundings.

He said it: "I think it's in Hawaii." Jody Gerut, jumping in late during a debate over where the 2007 Final Four for men's college basketball would be held. Up next: Pittsburgh will work out at Pirate City from 9:50 a.m.-12:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday. The remaining position players are due to report by Tuesday, with the first full-squad workout taking place Wednesday morning.

Dawn Klemish is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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