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Mazeroski, Virdon serve as Pirates' coaches

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012, 8:08 p.m.

Pirates greats such as Bill Mazeroski and Bill Virdon are regulars at the team's spring training home in Brandenton, Fla., every year, but manager Clint Hurdle didn't want the experience to end there.

Knowing the value that their knowledge and advice can add, Hurdle decided to bring Mazeroski and Virdon back during the season, and the duo spent Tuesday night in the dugout with the team. They will be with the Pirates for the three-game series against the Twins.

“This isn't a fantasy camp thing; this isn't spring training,” Hurdle said. “We're going to have them here to help coach and teach and have them at least feel part of it more throughout the game. We brought them in for them to bring us something, and hopefully we can give them something in return and everybody wins.”

Hurdle said he got permission to have Mazeroski and Virdon on the bench with them from Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, his former teammate on the 1983 New York Mets. Mazeroski was in the clubhouse before the team took the field for stretching and batting practice; Virdon's flight was due in mid-afternoon. Hurdle said they've also discussed having the two join them on a road trip at some point.

“Any time you have someone with (Mazeroski's) presence in the locker room it makes it pretty special,” rookie infielder Matt Hague said. “You talk to him and he's just a great guy to have around.”

• Hurdle said yesterday that they're still discussing what to do with the starting rotation through the weekend. That includes whether Brad Lincoln will make his scheduled start Saturday.

Jeff Karstens went seven innings in his rehab start with Double-A Altoona last night, giving up one run on six hits with one walk and five strikeouts. Karstens threw 78 pitches, 59 of them for strikes. He is expected to make one more rehab appearance.

• The Pirates signed fifth-round pick Adrian Sampson, a right-handed pitcher; ninth-round pick and infielder D.J. Crumlich; and 11th-round pick Chris Diaz, also an infielder. That brings the total to 14 players signed from this year's draft.

• Ryan Doumit made his first start behind the plate as an opposing catcher at PNC Park last night. Doumit, who endured an injury-plagued stint with the Pirates from 2005-11 and signed with the Twins as a free agent in November, is batting .253 in 53 games this year with six home runs and 30 RBI. That's two fewer home runs and as many RBI as he had in 77 games his last year with the Pirates.

— Karen Price

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