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Pirates notebook: McCutchen bringing back Zoltan

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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.

Monday, April 8, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

• Zoltan is back. Andrew McCutchen sent out this message Monday on Twitter: “I'm bringing the ‘Z' back ... stay tuned.” When McCutchen scored in the first inning Monday against the Diamondbacks, he flashed a ‘Z' and raised his index finger to his lips, as if he were shushing any doubters of the team's offensive prowess. “I think doing it is going to help,” McCutchen said. The ‘Z' refers to the “Zoltan salute,” a gesture made by characters in the comedy “Dude, Where's My Car?” The Pirates picked it up last season after watching the movie in the clubhouse, and began flashing the ‘Z' whenever one of them got a clutch hit.

• McCutchen did not hit his first home run last season until May 8, the 29th game of the season. By then, the rest of the Pirates already had gone deep 20 times. Once he got going at the plate, McCutchen was difficult to stop; he hit 31 homers. McCutchen hit the team's first home run Sunday, a two-run shot off lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu. The bad news is, it didn't happen until the sixth game of the season.

• Manager Clint Hurdle hasn't set the pitching rotation for the series this weekend against the Reds. A.J. Burnett, who started Saturday, likely will pitch Friday.

• Charlie Morton (elbow surgery) threw two innings (29 pitches) in an extended spring game. Hurdle said Morton threw mostly sinkers and his velocity was “very good.”

• Because of windy conditions and the threat of dust storms, the roof at Chase Field was closed Monday for the Pirates-Diamondbacks game.

— Rob Biertempfel

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