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Pirates notebook: McKenry rewarded for number swap




21 -- Degrees the temperature fell from when the Pirates practiced Wednesday to Thursday's nearly full-squad workout, when it was 60 degrees with a chilly breeze and spotty rain.


“I told my Dad, if they start learning our last name, then we'll know I've made it.” -- Reliever Mark Melancon (Muh-LAN-son), on his oft mispronounced last name.


Former Pirates LHP Erik Bedard is in Astros camp as a non-roster invitee. Bedard spent this past offseason in Ottawa, where temperatures dropped to minus-20. Unable to train outside, he threw off a plastic pitching mound in his heated garage.

Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, 3:42 p.m.

Michael McKenry surrendered his uniform No. 55 to Russell Martin, who wore that number the past seven years with the Dodgers and Yankees. “(The Pirates) kind of just gave it to me,” Martin said. “I never got a chance to talk to McKenry about it, so I shot him a text during the offseason.” To repay his fellow catcher for the number swap, Martin stashed a gift-wrapped watch in McKenry's locker. “Very nice,” said McKenry, who now is wearing No. 19. McKenry has often worn a single-digit number throughout his career, but the one he really wants is not available. “I've always liked the number 9, but I don't think Maz is going to give that one up,” McKenry said with a laugh. The Pirates retired Bill Mazeroski's No. 9 in 1987.

• Lefty Jeff Locke could be the frontrunner for the No. 5 spot in the starting rotation. Locke has more major league experience than Kyle McPherson, and he also is throwing in the same bullpen session group as A.J. Burnett, James McDonald, Wandy Rodriguez and Jeff Karstens. Jonathan Sanchez, who's a non-roster invitee, also is in the hunt for the final starting job.

Starling Marte, Neil Walker and Brad Hawpe checked into camp Thursday. That leaves only two missing players: Brandon Inge (who was given permission to arrive Friday) and Stolmey Pimentel (who's stuck in the Dominican Republic because of visa problems).

• Closer Jason Grilli won't reveal his entrance song, although he did offer one teaser: “It's by Pearl Jam, of course,” Grilli said, referring to his favorite band. Grilli already has previewed the video put together by the Pirates' scoreboard crew that will accompany the song and gave it two thumbs up. “It's going to be awesome,” he said.

— Rob Biertempfel




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