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Pirate pitchers Hart, Yates test arms after surgeries

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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.

Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011
 

BRADENTON, Fla. — Right-handers Kevin Hart (shoulder) and Tyler Yates (elbow), who both are rehabbing from surgeries, threw bullpen sessions Tuesday on day two of Pirates minicamp. Pitching coach Ray Searage looked on as they each threw 25 pitches, all fastballs.

"I like what I saw," Searage said. "Of course, their timing's going to be off a little bit because they haven't been on the slope for a while. Overall, I'm cautiously optimistic. What they did today gives us a good foundation. We'll build on that. We're on the right track."

It was the first time Hart had thrown off a mound since May, when he had surgery to repair a torn labrum.

"It was pretty good," Hart said. "I felt calm and relaxed and everything. It felt good to get on the mound."

Yates had Tommy John surgery in July 2009, but had setbacks in May 2010 and again in October 2010. Yesterday's workout was the second time he had thrown off the mound since October.

"Hopefully, I'll be game-ready by the first day of spring training," Yates said. "If I'm a week behind, that won't be too bad, either."

Both pitchers will throw another 25-pitch session on Friday. Both also hope to be able to compete for big league jobs in spring training.

• Outfielder Jose Tabata played against Jorge Julio this offseason in the Venezuelan Winter League. "He looked good," Tabata said. "He's still a good pitcher." Julio, 31, a right-handed reliever, has a 1.88 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 28 23 innings for Tiburones de la Guaira. The Pirates signed Julio, who hasn't pitched in the majors since 2009, to a minor league deal without an invite to big league spring training -- an indication that he must prove himself in Triple-A before management considers giving him a shot in Pittsburgh.

• Pitchers and catchers will hold their first spring training workout Feb. 14 at Pirate City. The first full-squad session will be Feb. 19.

• This year will be the first time infielder Josh Rodriguez, whom the Pirates claimed last month in the Rule 5 draft, has been invited to major league spring training camp. "It's a good opportunity for me," said Rodriguez, 26. When reliever Evan Meek heard that, he went over and shook Rodriguez's hand. "You're a Rule 5 guy, too?" asked Meek, who joined the Pirates in 2008. Meek offered to sit down sometime with Rodriguez and chat about what to expect.

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Pirates Minicamp 111/11

Pirates Minicamp  <sup>1</sup>⁄<sub>11</sub>/11

Day 2 of the Pittsburgh Pirates minicamp Tuesday January 11, 2011 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida.

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