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Pirates notebook: Williamsport likely to host Aug. 20 game vs. Cardinals

| Monday, March 6, 2017, 8:24 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Ivan Nova delivers during the second inning against the Yankees Monday, March 6, 2017, at LECOM Park in Bradenton, Fla.

BRADENTON, Fla. — To mark the 70th anniversary of the Little League World Series, MLB is working to relocate the Aug. 20 game against the St. Louis Cardinals from PNC Park to Williamsport, according to industry sources.

Plans for the game, which would be an ESPN “Sunday Night Baseball” broadcast, are expected to be finalized this week.

“The idea is a great one and would be a very rewarding experience for our players, but we are not able to confirm,” Pirates spokesman Brian Warecki said.

The Little League World Series is Aug. 18-28.

The short-season single-A Williamsport Crosscutters play at BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field, a 4,500-seat venue built in 1926. The Crosscutters were a Pirates affiliate from 1999-2005.

Last year, MLB built a 12,500-seat stadium on the Fort Bragg military base for a July 4 game between the Florida Marlins and Atlanta Braves. Construction took four months.

The Pirates and Marlins were supposed to play a series last season in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Those plans were scrapped because of concerns over the Zika virus.

Nova handles Yankees

Monday's 13-1 victory against the New York Yankees was the first time Ivan Nova pitched against his former team.

“I had some emotion going on,” said Nova, who gave up one unearned run on two hits in three innings.

Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner has known Nova for more than a decade. When Gardner led off the first inning, he tried to have some fun, and Nova played along.

“He was taking longer than ever to get up to the box and make me feel uncomfortable,” Nova said. “You step off a couple times, give him his time. Then I came back, and he was still outside, so when he was working into the box, I stepped back.”

Nova paused and smiled.

“We going to do it at my pace, not your pace.”

The strategy worked. Gardner flied out to left field.

Monday was the first time this spring the Pirates did not use a designated hitter. Nova struck out looking with a runner on third base.

“You guys were making fun of me, I bet,” Nova joked. “You're hitting off the machine every day, coming hard at you, but it's not the same when you're trying to pick up a pitcher's arm action.”

Nova's right hand was wrapped after the game, the result of being struck on the palm by Jacoby Ellsbury's comebacker. Nova said he has minor discomfort and won't miss any time.

Around the horn

Erich Weiss hit an RBI double as a pinch hitter in the fifth inning then stayed in the game at third base and got two more hits. In the seventh, Weiss went 2 for 2 as the Pirates sent 11 batters to the plate. … Jeremie Rehak of Monroeville was a base umpire in the game.

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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