Pirates notebook: McPherson's promising start turns sour
• Kyle McPherson's outing Monday against the Tampa Bay Rays went well ... for the first four innings, at least. In the fifth, he yielded a pair of two-run homers, including Evan Longoria's titanic shot to left. “My game plan was to be aggressive,” McPherson said. “It was working, and then the fifth inning came around. (Longoria) is a good hitter, and he got the result he wanted on that pitch.” McPherson is vying for a rotation spot but doesn't know what to make of his chances after putting up a 8.46 ERA in six starts.
• James McDonald threw 98 pitches in 41⁄3 innings Monday against the Toronto Blue Jays' Triple-A team.
• Unless they are added to the 25-man roster (or disabled list) by Tuesday morning, pitcher Jonathan Sanchez and utilityman Brandon Inge can opt out of their minor league contracts. If either player stays with the Pirates and is sent to the minors, he'll receive a $100,000 retention bonus.
• The Pirates will move another step closer to bringing their short-season Single-A team to Morgantown, W.Va. Ben Hayes, president of the New York-Penn League, and Pat O'Connor, president of Minor League Baseball, will announce Tuesday at a news conference that one of the league's teams will relocate and share a ballpark with West Virginia University.
• The Pirates' workout from 1 to 3 p.m. March 31 at PNC Park will be free and open to fans.
• The Pirates will play their final game this spring at McKechnie Field on Wednesday.
— Rob Biertempfel
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