Notes: Bullpen jobs up for grabs

Notes: Bullpen jobs remain up for grabs

BRADENTON, Fla. -- In addition to Friday's news that Jose Bautista would be the starting third baseman over incumbent Jose Castillo, Pirates manager Jim Tracy said he has some more decisions to make, especially in regard to the bullpen.

Tracy said having options, however tough, is better than the alternative.

"That's a good thing," he said after Friday's 3-2 win over the Yankees. "I can't really sit here and say that [the decisions] were quite as tough a year ago."

Several pitchers are making their case to break camp with the Pirates. Players such as Jonah Bayliss, Josh Sharpless and Juan Perez, who had 32 outings in the Major Leagues between them in 2006, are earning Tracy's praise for their hard work and poise. The need Tracy has for two lefties in the bullpen, combined with the lingering injury to John Grabow, may open the door for a lefty like Perez, or Shane Youman, to join established southpaw Damaso Marte and fill the void.

Tracy even admitted to throwing around the idea of having more than two left-handers in the bullpen to increase his options. Everything, he said, is still on the table.

"The more I see it, each and every day ... we may get toward the latter part of March and realize the fact that there are more resources here than we even anticipated," Tracy said. "And it's getting relatively close to the point where you obviously can say something like that."

Opening Day starter Zach Duke threw at the Minor League complex Friday, providing room for more pitchers to grab innings against the Yankees. Bayliss, in particular, caught Tracy's eye. Tracy said the 26-year-old had "come a long way" in a year.

Youman, a career starter, is also earning rave reviews with a 1-0 record and 0.96 ERA in five outings (9 1/3 innings).

"There are a couple of other people that we could possibly look at that could possibly pitch out of the bullpen, but at this point it's still very much up for discussion," Tracy said. "You need pitching to survive over the course of six months, and [to] stay involved in something if it plays itself out that way."

Bruised but not beaten: Freddy Sanchez took part in Friday's pregame warmups for the first time since leaving a March 6 game with a twisted right knee. The second baseman didn't play in the game because Tracy said Sanchez had yet to run the bases, but Tracy said that's the only thing keeping his National League batting champion out of the lineup.

"When Freddy is totally confident in the fact that he's ready to [run the bases], we'll send him out there to do it. But it's not going to be [Friday], and it's not going to be [Saturday]."

Center fielder Chris Duffy was scratched from Friday's lineup with a sore neck and replaced by Andrew McCutchen. Duffy was scheduled to make Saturday's trip to Fort Myers, but he will be re-evaluated in the morning to determine whether he's able to play.

Duke down for day: Duke threw six innings (81 pitches) at Pirate City during a Triple-A game on Friday with good results. He surrendered two earned runs on six hits, walked none and fanned three in the outing. No hits were for extra bases.

Originally scheduled to pitch against the Yankees with the big club, Duke went over to Pirate City to get more stretched out, and at the same time allow his teammates to log as many innings as possible.

Duke, who earned his first loss of the year earlier in the week after allowing New York to score seven runs in a single inning, said then that he was looking for redemption, but he wasn't upset it hadn't happened -- yet.

Pittsburgh visits New York for a three-game series June 8-10.

"My main thing was for my own peace of mind, just to prove to myself that [the last outing against them] was my own fault," Duke said Friday. "If [I end up facing them] in June, good. Then I'll definitely have the 'A' lineup against me."

Odds and ends: Catcher Ronny Paulino's 2-for-3 performance Friday boosted his batting average to .514 this spring (19-for-37), third-highest in the Majors among those with at least 20 at-bats, behind Houston non-roster invitee Hunter Pence (.571) and Minnesota's Luis Castillo (.529). ... Jason Bay's second-inning single snapped a 1-for-18 slump. ... Hideki Matsui's run-scoring single in the fourth inning on Friday represented Youman's first earned run allowed this season, snapping his scoreless streak at 7 2/3 innings over five outings. ... Friday's crowd of 5,814 was the fifth sellout of the spring at McKechnie Field.

Up next: Pittsburgh will go to Fort Myers to face the Twins on Saturday in a 1:05 p.m. ET matchup. Right-hander Ian Snell will start for the Pirates against Minnesota righty Carlos Silva.

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