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Beimel's constant reminder

| Monday, Feb. 28, 2011

BRADENTON, Fla. -- From wrist to shoulder, Joe Beimel's right arm is covered in tattoos. His left arm is bare.

"That's my money-maker," Beimel said, grinning.

There's good reason Beimel gives that arm preferential treatment: He will make $1.75 million this year as the primary left-hander in the Pirates' bullpen.

Beimel, who is day to day after being scratched from his scheduled outing Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays because of what a team spokesman called "minor elbow soreness," knows it would be silly to put the arm at risk an infection or ink needle mishap. It's a lesson he learned from experience. Beimel was not always as careful earlier in his career, and it proved to be costly.

One of his tattoos serves as a reminder.

In 2006, Beimel was a key reliever for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Two days before the start of an NL divisional playoff series against the New York Mets, he gashed his left hand on a broken glass in a Manhattan nightspot. It took 10 stitches to close the wound.

Beimel was unable to pitch. The left-handed-heavy Mets swept the Dodgers in three games.

Disappointed in himself, Beimel apologized to his teammates. Later, he got a tattoo on his right shoulder of a broken heart superimposed on the New York skyline. Although he now says he didn't have a drinking problem, Beimel also gave up alcohol for a year and a half.

"I wanted to know I could do that," Beimel said. "And I wanted to show the Dodgers that I was committed to the team."

Beimel was reminded of the incident a few days ago, when Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera began an alcohol rehab program. Cabrera was arrested Feb. 17 in Fort Pierce, Fla., on suspicion of drunken driving.

"Mine was a little different situation. I'm not sure what (Cabrera) is going through," Beimel said. "It's one of those things where you've got to get your priorities in order. You've got to figure out what you want in life and what's important to you."

The Pirates drafted Beimel, 33, in 1998 out of Duquesne University. He broke into the majors in 2001 and went from Pittsburgh to the Twins, Rays, Dodgers, Nationals and Rockies.

Unlike some of his former clubs, the Pirates plan to use Beimel as more than just a situational lefty. His stats against right-handed batters (.288 batting average, .794 on-base plus slugging percentage, or OPS) are good, but he dominates left-handers (.259 average, .720 OPS, 2.49 strikeout-walk ratio).

"When I'm out there, I feel very confident -- kind of red-lining on the side of arrogance," Beimel said. "I truly believe I'm going to get the guy out. I don't have any other thoughts in my mind."

By the numbers
Here is a look at Pirates pitcher Joe Beimel's career splits:
vs. RH batters 1531 1,326 382 165 146 0.88 .288 .794
vs. LH batters 929 829 215 68 169 2.49 .259 .720
*Plate appearances

Beimel might seem intimidating, stalking the clubhouse with long hair, three-day stubble and sleeveless T-shirts. But the tough-guy persona is mostly a tool for when he's on the mound. The Pirates signed Beimel because he's a leader, not a loner.

"Don't be afraid, you young left-handers. Ask him questions," said pitching coach Ray Searage said, who then paused to laugh. "If you don't ask him questions, he's going to punch you right in the nose. So get the information."

McCutchen's a hit batting third

BRADENTON, Fla. -- After only two spring training games, Andrew McCutchen already seems comfortable hitting third in the Pirates' batting order.

McCutchen went 3 for 3, including a solo homer, and scored three runs in a 10-3 victory Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays. McCutchen collected two RBI and stole a base.

"I like hitting," McCutchen said. "It doesn't matter where. As long as I'm hitting, that's all that matters."

During his first two years in the majors, McCutchen hit .283 in 190 games when batting first in the order. He's a .302 hitter in 53 games in the third spot.

"I think it'd be silly not to look at something different after what we went through last year," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Why else would you come to spring training, if not to move some people around and try to find an offense that will score more runs?"

Jose Tabata, Neil Walker and McCutchen hit 1-2-3 for the second consecutive day. That may foreshadow the top of the lineup on Opening Day.

"Jose, Neil and those guys are going to get on base, so I'm going to have more (RBI) opportunities," McCutchen said.

Right-hander Kevin Correia was scheduled to pitch the first two innings. He lasted just 1 1/3 innings after allowing two runs on two hits and two walks.

"I don't mind the results," Correia said. "The first outing you get that adrenaline rush. I was overthrowing, my stride got too long, and everything flattened out."

Correia, 30, signed a two-year, $8 million contract in December. He pitched parts of six seasons with the San Francisco Giants and spent the past two years with the San Diego Padres.

Correia is used to having a rough outing at the start of spring training.

"It seems like I do it every year," he said. "I get mad and say I'm not going to do it again. I'm not nervous or anything. You just get that adrenaline rush you haven't had in months, and it gets you."


4 -- Strikeouts in 37 at-bats by the Pirates on Sunday

9 -- Strikeouts in 32 at-bats by the Pirates on Saturday


"It doesn't count yet. I'm trying to save it." -- Andrew McCutchen, who left the game a triple shy of hitting for the cycle.

Photo Galleries

Pirates Spring Training 2011

Pirates Spring Training 2011

Images from Pirates spring training in Bradenton, Florida.

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