'Around the cage' with the Pirates
• On Friday, Jody Gerut recalled a clubhouse conversation last spring with Freddy Sanchez. The way Gerut tells it, Sanchez was considering changing his swing to hit for more power and Gerut talked him out of it. Sanchez went on to win the National League batting title. "So I want my cut of the loot," Gerut said. Sanchez tells a different version. "Yeah, he says I owe him, 'cause he thinks he's the one that got me to stay short with my swing and stay on the ball," Sanchez said. "So maybe I'll buy him a little dinner or something. But it's all fun. We were just totally joking around."
• First baseman Adam LaRoche saw one familiar face the first time he walked into the Pirates' clubhouse. Nick Green and LaRoche came up together through Atlanta's farm system. After spending the past two seasons with Tampa Bay, Green signed a minor-league contract with the Pirates the day before LaRoche was traded. "I'm glad he's here," Green said. "To have a good friend come over, it's a lot easier for me to feel comfortable."
• Catchers Ronny Paulino and Carlos Maldonado capped batting practice yesterday by putting on a display of long-ball power. Maldonado got it started by launching a shot down the third-base line, which landed with a clang atop the metal roof on the batting cages. Paulino upped the ante by blasting a long, arcing homer onto the roof beyond the fence in left-center field. Maldonado put a ball in nearly the same spot but did it on a line. One one of his final swings, Paulino cracked a sharp grounder to left field that seemed to have eyes for pitcher Michael Tejera. Paulino shouted a warning and, without turning around, Tejera jumped up at the last second and the ball scooted under him.
-- Rob Biertempfel