First Call: Pirates’ Melky Cabrera’s rising trade stock; Antonio Brown embraces ‘Hard Knocks’ |
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Tim Benz

For “First Call” Wednesday, is Melky Cabrera getting traded? How about Derek Dietrich? Antonio Brown seems pumped for “Hard Knocks.” High praise for a Pitt product in the NFL. And the Pirates first-round pick insists his arm is fine.

Will Melky move? posted a list of 10 players whose trade stock is rising.

Pirates outfielder Melky Cabrera is No. 1.

Author Mark Feisand writes, “Cabrera boasts an impressive .833 OPS in 59 games, which would be his highest since his All-Star season of 2012. He’ll be 35 on Aug. 11, but he can play either corner outfield spot, and he’s earning only $1.15 million this season, with a chance to add $850,000 in incentives.”

Feisand lists the Indians and the Athletics as the top potential destinations for Cabrera.

Also on the list, the guy every Pirates fan loves to hate: Cincinnati’s Derek Dietrich.

Antonio Brown embraces ‘Hard Knocks’

This will stun Steelers fans, I’m sure.

But Antonio Brown seems content with the notion of network cameras following him around 24-7.

Brown’s Oakland Raiders will be the subject of HBO’s all-access training camp show “Hard Knocks.”

At “Breakfast With Benz,” we’ve been openly campaigning for this result.

Normally, players and coaches seem to hate the intrusion. But the always camera-thirsty Mr. Big Chest appears to be on board.

My guess is there will be an A.B. cam rolling nonstop.

From the other side

We outlined how Pittsburgh should be celebrating the 10th anniversary of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final victory over the Red Wings on Wednesday.

Well, it’s being acknowledged in Detroit, too. Just not as fondly.

As WDVI-TV in Detroit points out, that was the last night a Detroit team had a chance to clinch the championship. Also, the station reminds its readers, “While the Penguins went on to win two more Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017, the Red Wings haven’t made it past the second round of the playoffs after that lost opportunity at home 10 years ago.”

Not that Detroit is still disappointed or anything.

No concerns

Pirates first-round draft choice Quinn Priester reiterated what his high school coach told us last week about the state of his pitching arm.

Despite concerns about some tendinitis in Priester’s right arm during his junior season, the Illinois high schooler said yesterday during his introduction to the media that his arm has never felt better than it did his senior year.

“The last offseason I went into a throwing program and a plan,” Priester said. “In between starts I made sure I did all my band work, my weighted ball, my plyo, throwing off the trampoline. Just to make sure my arm was recovering.”

Like his coach, Ryan Passaglia, told us, Priester connected the arm issues a year ago to overuse from throwing a football too much during his time as a high school quarterback.

“My junior year, I did a lot of throwing whether it was a football or a baseball, and I wasn’t doing a lot of the right things between (starts),” Priester continued. “My senior year, after going through some of that fatigue, I needed to make a change.”

Priester made the switch to receiver before his senior season, and that appeared to help matters. Despite the position change, he was still being looked at as a two-sport athlete at Northwestern before deciding on TCU.

Then eventually signing with the Pirates Tuesday.

Best of the bunch?

It wasn’t the strongest NFL draft class for running backs. But Pitt’s Qadree Ollison may be one of the most impactful of the bunch.

That’s according to’s Gil Brandt.

Here’s what he said about the Falcons’ fifth-round pick.

“In a perfect world for the Falcons, Devonta Freeman and Ito Smith would handle the bulk of the rushing load this season. But Freeman has struggled to stay healthy, and both he and Smith lack the ideal size for short-yardage situations, which is where the 6-1, 228-pound Ollison can find a niche.”

Brandt also praised Ollison’s punt-protection ability, which he thinks will have him ready to participate on passing downs. He feels Ollison is “capable of catching the ball, as well, which could make him dangerous in Dirk Koetter’s offense.”

I was always a fan of Ollison at Pitt. But jockeying for position on the depth chart with the likes of James Conner in 2016 and Darrin Hall in 2017 kept his stats down.

I’m not quite sure Ollison will have the impact Brandt is guessing. But I do think he can be a serviceable NFL rookie.

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